Melissa’s Family on Television


Courtesy of Hapdorn Television One
Translated by Lanni Hargelstope, ApD

The show opens with two deceptively Scandinavian-looking chairs on either side of a small table, upon which is an arty flower arrangement. Next to the chair on the right, there is a small matching sofa. The set attempts to capture the flavor of a large and comfortable living room in a private dwelling. The backdrop, however, is a curtain.

The chair on the viewer’s left is occupied by a tall black man with very dark skin, handsome features, and a pleasant smile. His name is Minsel Trothe, and he is a regular anchorman from the evening news. He is wearing a forest green suit and a light-brown shirt. The jacket has no lapels, and the collar fits tightly around the neck. His jacket has two pockets with medium-sized flaps. He is wearing a broad gold-colored band around his left wrist.

The theme song fades.

Minsel:
(rising) Abreš gol, θorgeleoma! This is your reporter Minsel Trothe with another “Visitor from the Sky”!

Applause. Tight close-up of Minsel’s face.

Minsel:
Once again, I would like to remind our viewers in Hapdorn Province that educational credit is available for this show for children between the ages of twenty-four and thirty-two who are enrolled in courses in exosociology or anthropology. Contact your instructor for details.

The music swells momentarily. The screen shows a full-figure view of Minsel.

Minsel:
Tonight’s first guest is a young Human woman from Sol 3, and a citizen of a nation called the Federated Provinces of Amerikka. We interviewed her on this show one year ago, when she was just a visitor to our planet; today she returns as a permanent resident of our fair Duchy! Even more exciting things have happened to her since then! She has changed her name in marriage. Please welcome the former Melissa Franklin; Melissa Lahtissimon!

There is applause as Melissa enters from the right, smiling self-consciously. She nervously brushes her long, light brown hair away from her face with her right hand as she walks gracefully across the stage towards Minsel on the left. She is wearing a deep red form-fitting knee-length skirt and matching high-heel shoes. Her jacket has sleeves which extend only to her elbows. It is open in the front, revealing a ruffled blouse with a high neckline and an understated but elegant gold necklace.

Minsel rises from his seat to meet her half-way across the set. They shake hands, hug briefly, and seat themselves. Melissa is seated on the viewer’s right, in the chair between the table and the sofa; Minsel is seated in the other chair, on the left side of the table. Melissa runs her hands down the sides of her thighs, as if to smooth the skirt. Finally, she straightens her back and smiles at the camera, looking somewhat more relaxed than the last time she was on television.

Minsel:
Abreš gol, Melissa!Are you comfortable?
Melissa:
Oh yes, thank you. (She nods her head confidently.)
Minsel:
I guess we have violated the basic premise of our show this evening, because you are technically no longer a “visitor from the sky” !
Melissa:
(Smiling bashfully) Yes, I guess that is true! My husband, adopted son, and I have made our permanent home here in Hapdorn! (Audience murmurs approvingly.)
Minsel:
(Laughing) Well, don’t worry about that. The news department of Hapdorn Television One decided that our viewers would be interested in a follow-up of your interview on our show last year, when you truly were a visitor to our beloved Duchy; and to our planet!

(The audience applauds briefly as confirmation.)

Minsel:
(Shifting in his seat) Melissa, as I said in the introduction, you have married since you were last on my show.
Melissa:
That is right! I married a spaceship purser from Fomin, Halakan…
Minsel:
That would explain your Halakanian married name.
Melissa:
Yes. Unlike in Thorgelfayne, where you keep your surname for your whole life long, Halakanian newly-weds choose a new last name when they get married.
Minsel:
I see. (Turning to the camera) That, viewers, explains why Melissa and her husband share the same surname. And speaking of Melissa’s handsome husband, let’s bring him out right now! Thorgeleoma, Melissa’s handsome husband, Harshan Lahtissimon!

(The orchestra strikes up the theme song, and the audience applauds in anticipation of Harshan’s entry. There is some activity behind the curtain on the right side of the set as Harshan clumsily seeks the opening. He emerges bashfully victorious, to the accompaniment of scattered, good-natured laughter. He crosses to the center of the stage, and bows nervously to the audience. He’s athletically slender, and has very handsome, piercing blue eyes. Minsel rises to greet him with a hug. Harshan seats himself on the end of the sofa nearest to Melissa’s chair, and Minsel returns to his seat.)

Minsel:
(To Melissa) Was your marriage to a Homelander your reason for settling on Homeland rather than your home planet of Earth?
Melissa:
(Smiling, and tossing back her hair) No! In fact, we had initially planned to settle on Earth!
Minsel:
Why was that?

(Melissa and Harshan glance at each other to determine who will respond. Harshan turns to face Minsel.)

Harshan:
After Melissa tried and failed to learn the Halakanian language (Harshan looks hurt as someone in the audience aborts a brief hysterical guffaw), it seemed to be the only compromise. (Defensively) Halakanian is classified by linguists as a “synthetic” language, which makes it exceptionally difficult for the non-native speaker.
Melissa:
(Briefly raising a hand, as if taking a pledge) Believe me, I tried!
Harshan:
(continuing) So we didn’t feel that settling in Halakan was a good idea. Earth was our second choice, since it is Melissa’s home, and it had been my job as a spaceship purser to adapt myself to alien environments.
Minsel:
What changed your mind and brought you to Homeland?
Melissa:
Darryl did! (Facing the audience) While we were on Earth, we adopted a nine-year old orphan with a severe hearing loss. His name is Darryl. When we discovered that most of his hearing could be restored here through surgery, we decided to emigrate.
Minsel:
That’s all it took? Why couldn’t you have just come for the surgery and returned?
Melissa:
By coming here, we would be exposing Darryl to things that are unknown to Humans or that Humans consider to be science fiction. This would have given him severe readjustment problems at his age. If he returned to Earth and insisted on the reality of his experiences, he would have been subjected to everything from taunts to psychoanalysis! It all boiled down to this: a trip with Darryl to Homeland would be a one-way trip.
Minsel:
(Rubbing his chin thoughtfully) I see what you mean. It wouldn’t have been practical to anesthetize him for the whole trip! (General laughter)
Harshan:
(Hunched forward, with his elbows on his knees) I wish I had thought of that! (Melissa gives him an astonished glare) He was really excited and very active during the whole trip. (slapping his thigh) He nearly wore me out!

(More laughter. Melissa beams.)
 

Minsel:
And of all the nations of Homeland, what made you decide on our beloved Duchy as a place to settle?
Melissa:
Well, a number of factors. First of all, there is the practical matter of the surgery: it would be done here. Then there was the consideration that Thorgelfaynese is the only Homelander language that both Harshan and I can speak. But most importantly, Thorgelfayne is the nicest place I’ve ever been to, and it’s where I’d like to spend the rest of my life.
Minsel:
(Over growing applause from the audience) I think we can all take that as a compliment.
Harshan:
(Flatly) As far as I am concerned you can take it as a statement of fact. (The applause reaches a crescendo.)
Minsel:
That brings up an interesting question. What about nationality?
Harshan:
We have never discussed it. I’m still a Halakanian citizen; and Melissa and Darryl are citizens of the Federated Provinces of Amerikka; a nation on Earth.
Minsel:
(Carefully venturing a thought) That doesn’t seem very practical, since we don’t have diplomatic relations with any Human nation. (He leans back in his chair and spreads his hands.) There’s no embassy or consular office to turn to in time of need.
Melissa:
Actually, you have a very good point. We just never thought about it before. Since we don’t plan to return to Earth—except maybe for a visit (Harshan looks nervous) —I see no reason why we shouldn’t be Thorgelfaynese. (Waving her hand as though to conclude this line of discussion) But we will have to give this some thought.
Minsel:
(Changing the subject) Has Darryl had any difficulties adjusting to Thorgelfaynese life?
Melissa:
I should say not! He’s made lots of friends and has done very well in school. He’s done everything he can to fit in, except change the color of his skin!

(Laughter from the audience)

Harshan:
We even suspect that he has forgotten his native language!
Minsel:
(Consulting notes) That would be Inglitch?
Harshan:
That’s pronounced “English”
Melissa:
Things have gone so well, that you tend to forget the unpleasant things; but, now that I think of it, there were a few problems at first.
Harshan:
(Warmly) Oh, yes! Christmas!
Minsel:
What is that?
Melissa:
It is actually a religious holiday, but it has developed into an occasion of intensive gift-giving, with children the main beneficiaries. We were already on Homeland by Christmas time; so, for Darryl’s benefit, we celebrated it here.
Harshan:
We are very proud to report that Darryl shared his gifts with all his friends!
Melissa:
(Laughing, with her hand over her face) It was very embarrassing at the time, since I had to explain it to all the parents; but I was very pleased that Darryl had learned to share.
Minsel:
Has he had any other adjustment problems?
Melissa:
(Reminiscing) He did get into a fight at school with another child about the planet Earth. Apparently the other child maligned Earth and Humans, calling them an unredeemable sub-Homelanderoid species; or something to that effect.

(The audience gasps sympathetically.)

Minsel:
(Wincing) Children can be distressingly immature!
Melissa:
Well, that is the function of childhood! (scattered chuckles) When the teacher broke up the fight, Darryl was on top; so the children considered him the winner. The class was disciplined for egging on the fight, and Darryl and his opponent were required to be “buddies” for a month.
Minsel:
That’s something new since I went to school! How were they punished by being buddies?
Harshan:
They were moved so that they had to sit next to each other in the classroom. They were required to work as a team in swimming class, and had to hand in all assignments jointly; that is, they had to work out the answers together and hand in identical papers in their own handwriting.
Minsel:
That’s quite a lot of togetherness!
Harshan:
The teachers considered it a very serious problem, and rightly so. Anyway it worked. The two boys became friends.
Minsel:
(Crossing his legs) Now I want to change the subject to something more personal.
Melissa:
(Breezily) Go ahead!
Minsel:
I understand that you have been hospitalized twice in Hapdorn, once during your visit, and once just this last week. Perhaps you would like to compare Thorgelfaynese hospitals with the hospitals on Earth.
Melissa:
Oh, gladly! (She shifts in her seat. Harshan looks apprehensive.) The first time was for shock. Harshan boarded an airplane at Hapdorn airport, to fly to Fomin on business. Shortly after take-off, the inconspicuity shield caught fire and fell off! (Sympathetic ahs from the audience. Melissa faces the audience.) At the time, I was convinced that the aircraft had exploded and that Harshan was killed!
Minsel:
(Tentatively) Does that sort of thing happen on Earth?
Melissa:
Not to anyone I know, but it has been known to happen. (The audience makes incredulous noises.)
Minsel:
So your misinterpretation of the event was understandable.
Melissa:
Well, I didn’t know about aircraft safety on Homeland, or inconspicuity shields, or anything like that. What was I to think? Anyway, I went into shock and had to be hospitalized. Naturally, I don’t remember much about the hospital. It just seemed like a normal hospital at the time.
Minsel:
What about the second time, last week?
Melissa:
(Her tone is more intense.) That’s when I had the heart attack.
Harshan:
(Gasping) I didn’t think they told you about that!
Melissa:
(Patting him lovingly on the hand.) Sweetheart, they didn’t have a chance. I was the one who told them it was a heart attack. The medic was grateful for the clue. (Facing the audience again) Heart attacks appear to be relatively rare here, so he wouldn’t have hit upon the proper diagnosis as quickly without me. (Harshan looks a little stunned.)
Minsel:
How could you possibly have known it was a heart attack, even as you were having it?
Melissa:
(Shrugging her shoulders) Easy. My grandfather had several of them, and I witnessed one of them. I’m very familiar with the symptoms!
Minsel:
How is your health now?
Melissa:
Actually, I’m healthier than before! In fact, there are no restrictions on activities or travel at all. And getting back to your original question; I think the hospitals are much better here. The rooms are nicer, the staff is friendlier, and almost all medical equipment is kept out of the patient’s view, to minimize emotional distress. Nice as it was, it’s even nicer NOT to be in the hospital!
Harshan:
(Weakly) No restrictions at all?
Melissa:
None. (They stroke each other’s arms. Melissa moves closer to Harshan.) And you can forget that silly idea about never visiting Earth! (Harshan blushes. Melissa kisses him. The audience reacts with a mixture of joyful laughter and applause.)
(The laughter builds to a crescendo as a child wanders through the curtain onto the stage. It’s Darryl.)
Darryl:
Mommy, Daddy; can we go home now? (Uproarious laughter. Darryl becomes aware of the audience and runs to Harshan for safety.)
Minsel:
(To the camera) I see we have an unscheduled guest! (To Darryl) Well, young man, I presume you are Darryl!
Darryl:
Yes!
Minsel:
Did you know that you are on national television right now?
Darryl:
What? (His eyes grow very large) I’m on television?
Harshan:
Yes, space cadet; I’m afraid you are!
Darryl:
Wow!
Minsel:
Darryl, why don’t you tell us all which you like best: living on Earth, or living here in Thorgelfayne.
Darryl:
(Immediately) Oh, Thorgelfayne. (As an afterthought) Earth is pretty nice I guess, but this is where I want to be. School was hard at first, but it’s okay. (expansively) I’ve got my mother and my father, and all my friends at school. I never had all that on Earth. (The audience makes vague sympathetic noises.)
Minsel:
I understand that you have completely forgotten how to speak Inglitch!
Darryl:
(Casually) Nah, I remember how. I just don’t want to. (Brightening) I can hardly wait to catch a Hugmup!
Minsel:
(Over general laughter) That’s very nice of you to say that. But you can’t catch a Hugmup.
Darryl:
(With one finger in his nose) You can’t? (He looks disappointed.)
Minsel:
No, they have to catch you! (laughter) But that can’t happen till spring. They’re hibernating in the mountains right now.
Darryl:
I know that. We had that in school! (In a hopeful tone) How long until spring? (A ripple of laughter.)
Minsel:
Not long. After all, it’s almost Blue! (In an obvious reaction to a cue from off-camera, Minsel turns to the camera.) Thorgeleoma, that’s all the time we have tonight! I would like to thank Melissa, Harshan (with a smile) and Darryl Lahtissimon for being on our show tonight.

(The audience rises to give Melissa, Harshan and Darryl a fervent standing ovation.)

Minsel:
Thank you very much for an informative evening. I am greatly honored to have had you on my show.
Harshan:
The honor is entirely ours.
Voice:
Please join us next week as Minsel Trothe interviews Horimat Oritikajs of Zerpick. Horimat first visited the Imperial Duchy of Thorgelfayne by accident when she got lost on her first visit to Homeland. She now operates a travel agency on Zerpick, which specializes in package tours to our beloved Duchy.

** END **