It’s been an interesting week on planet Earth, particularly since I had old friends in town, just arrived from Mars. “Take us to your leader,” they said, and next thing you know we’re being greeted by the President, the Vice President and both full houses of Congress. We were welcomed warmly because I took the time to read that great interplanetary guidebook you lent me and made a quick stop in Times Square. There, along with the throngs of underage drinkers and other undocumented life forms, we rustled up some very authentic-looking souvenir Congressional ID cards. Then we stopped by Tiffany’s for some custom-made souvenir lapel pins that said Member of Congress.
With those to-die-for holographic calling cards and those becoming little pins, we were waved right on in by the Capitol Police, right past the long lines of hoi polloi and the X-ray machines, faster than the express lane at Disneyland. Pin recognition, it’s called. The older, outmoded technology of facial recognition is no longer sanctioned by their Earthland Security–possibly because members of Congress seem to have two, three, sometimes half a dozen faces to choose from. In any event, unlike the bouncers manning the velvet ropes at New York City nightclubs–who know an A-lister from an out-of-towner no matter what shoes you’re wearing and could care less that you flew in all the way from Mars–Capitol Police simply cannot be expected “to know all 535 members of Congress by sight.”
And so it was that our Martian visitors glided on through the great portals for an entertaining afternoon of line-item laser tag. (Of course, the ease of our passage was no doubt assisted by the fact that Martians, though hairless and goggly-eyed, do bear a fetching resemblance to the humans’ dearly beloved Congressman Tom DeLay, if, that is, he were to be shaved all over and slightly poached.) On our way out of the House of Representatives, we noticed a small scuffle as the Capitol Police wrestled with a dark, angry headful of illicit hair; a “dangerous do” had been trying to smuggle its way into the halls of power. This was a phenomenon heretofore unknown to us, but when the Martians and I homed in on the muffled thudding in the hall, we were able to collect a trove of field notes about the natives.
First, we were able to conclude that a member of Congress is anyone who wears the pin. Anyone who does not wear the pin must go to the end of the line and be searched from head to toe, bowing down and removing shoes and hats and jackets as they enter the great temple. The pin is magic, you see–talismanic, revered, like the bishop’s ring or the Heisman trophy of the sports arena. How thrilled and proud our friends the Martians were to discover that the pin not only granted entry but defined you dispositively as a member of Congress.