“The telescope is extremely powerful,” the little green alien was explaining to the crowd, his heart in his throat. “More powerful than any we’ve ever had before, in fact.”
His mentor nodded, the spoon-like antenna on his head waving with the sharp movement.
“This means that maybe for the first time we have been able to observe the actions, habits and behaviour of humans in a way we have never done before.”
A small “mm” of assent came from his tutor and he took this as confirmation that he was on the right track. Resting one of his three fingers on the strap of his dungarees in the hope that it would hide their shaking, he let out a small calming breath before continuing with his presentation.
“In this presentation I will discuss a characteristic of humans to do with the hair on their head.” He cleared his throat. “Most humans seem to have hair on their head, and sometimes on their faces and legs, however, humans are nowhere near as hairy as the other beings that have been observed in their households, for example. In Baltem’s book on this, he observes that these beings are mostly a lot less clever than humans and can be observed by their hair and the number of legs they have.
In terms of humans, the hair they have on their head is particularly interesting as it seems to define who humans are. They style their hair according to what they like, some even colouring it to be a more interesting colour.” Jolt smiled as he remembered the picture of the earthling he had seen with green hair. The same colour as me, he had thought with a buzz of elation.
“They cut their hair into different shapes, and make it bigger or shorter, or sometimes they change the consistencies, for example.” Pictures appeared in the air in front of him of humans with different hair styles. “Here we can see a human with a shorter bit of hair on the front of their head, while the rest is longer.”
Jolt went on for a while about different styles and their names according to scholars from the planet. His face lit up, his three eyes all sparkling as he spoke. He gestured dramatically, and moved up and down the stage, pointing out various photographs and drawings. The enthusiasm he felt was palpable. “Thank you for listening,” he finished with a smile, and thought to himself that he had this in the bag.
As Jolt listened to more mediocre presentations, his mind wandered. He was in the final round of a competition to allow the aliens a trip to earth to observe humans more closely, and Jolt wanted to win more than anything.
At the end of all the presentations, a purple and blue spotted alien stood up. With a smile on his face, he blinked his one eye and addressed the audience. After a short speech (that was too long in Jolt’s opinion) complimenting all the participants on their presentation he said: “It was a close call, friends. But the winner is…Jolt the third!”
Something was stirring in Jolt’s stomach as he entered the space pod along with four older, more experienced aliens.
“Keep still,” said a yellow alien whose antenna almost touched the top of the pod. “Any preferences?”
Jolt knew immediately what he was talking about. With an excited grin, he held up a picture from his presentation.
One trip through the earth’s atmosphere later, Jolt and the rest of the adventurers were exploring a large settlement of human civilisation, complete with glamours of human bodies. Everywhere he looked, he could see amazing sights – tall buildings, shiny statues, and, of course, people. Tall people, short people, fat, thin, loud, quiet, happy, sad…it went on and on.
Jolt started looking at their hair, interested to see real life examples from his project. Some humans had long hair while some had short, some hair was big and some was small…but the colours were mostly dull, and Jolt couldn’t help but feel that he and his species looked slightly out of place despite their efforts.
Passing by some polished glass of a building, he saw the green hair on his head in the reflection. The grassy hair was styled in a tall quiff, reminiscent of their antennas. It created the impression that a large plant was growing out of his head. As he looked at himself, thinking how great he really did look, a group of young earthlings past, laughing and pointing in his direction.
Looking more carefully at the people passing him in the street, he noticed that many of them were staring at him. Some of them were laughing, though most of them seemed to be suppressing it. As he turned back to his friends he heard someone say “Look at that man’s ridiculous hairstyle.”
“Everything all right?” the alien stylist asked him, his dark blue eyebrows raised.
Jolt turned away from the humans on the street, thinking that maybe earthlings weren’t as wonderful and insightful as they were made out to be back on his planet. “I think I want to go home.” he said.