Monday, January 8, 1990

Alien AuPair

By Sidney Iwanter

Synopsis: Fifteen year old Angus Aupair is so shy and introspective his fellow students know of his existence only through word of mouth and the fact that he has a smile for everyone. Angus writes articles for the school newspaper, the subjects of which are so arcane and indecipherable that several have been published in the Journal of “What’s this All About Alphonse?”. He authors gushy language to his girlfriend Roxanne, who really isn't his girlfriend. Roxanne believes love poetry should contain at least one word that does not require the assistance of the Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary, and so she believes Angus is actually a piece of undigested gruel. Angus's optimistic outlook on life is put to the test the day he looks up and sees a spacecraft hovering overhead with five car sick alien kids heaving their lunch down onto him. By surviving that vomitus encounter (most recipients simply melted away), Angus is offered the position of lifetime, au pair to a family of intergalactic cops. If he refuses, Earth suffers a fate worse than death: every teen will be forced to forever listen to their parent's music.

Look up the word “introspective” and right next to its pronunciation key and those really weird Indo-European root derivation symbols will be the sweet and beguiling picture of fifteen year-old ANGUS AUPAIR. Surprisingly docile and acquiescent for a boy so far into teen-hood, Angus prefers an environment of quietude and contemplation. He finds the dropping of a pin on a shearling coat cacophonous. Non-confrontational in every aspect of his existence, Angus prefers the path less traveled -- a dirt road will do just fine.

On most weekends, Angus can be found sitting under a spreading chestnut tree, dangling his feet over Placid Falls, and composing poetry on his two favorite subjects: pumice and the love of his life, Roxanne. Even with the black flies, the sand fleas, and the mosquitoes continuously buzzing around him, Angus is a contented young man. But no American advertiser will pay good money betting that 9-14 year-olds will watch a well-adjusted kid sit under a tree writing poetry to a girl who barely knows he exists. What do you think this is: children’s television from France?

So let’s start our story the way so many begin today, with an exciting and totally inexplicable supernatural event. The event in question happens the day after yesterday. Follow Angus as he walks through the toxic waste dump just down the street from his nondescript home. Watch as Angus notes a buzzing sound high above his head. See the shock and consternation appear on his face as he realizes that hovering over him, so close he can touch its underbelly, is a flying saucer, windows open, with five green-faced alien children looking down at him. Witness his lack of reaction time (for he never went out for any contact sports) as the five green-faced alien children vomit their late afternoon snacks all over him. Laugh along with the alien children as the spacecraft peels away into the cloudy skies, leaving Angus dripping in liquid stomach churnings.

Before he can wipe the grossness from his face, a sparkling array of colors envelops him, and Angus finds himself in the middle of very tackily decorated mansion furnished in googie art supreme.

The house extends for miles upward and outward in an hommage to M.C. Escher ; yet the walls are translucent and Angus can see right across the street to his home. His mother robotically waves at him. Wasn’t this locale a toxic waste dump seconds before?

Running towards him on the stubbiest of legs are the five little vomitoriums screaming and carrying on like a berserker herd of wildebeests. All cough, wheeze, hack, and sneeze over Angus. Phlegm, mucous, and snot, cover the poor boy. Food spills from their mouths, noses drip like leaky faucets, and something oval and with eyes keeps popping in and out of all of their ears.

A young couple sits blocks away eating piles and piles of pancakes. They wave at Angus but remain seated. “Our children have the sniffles.” You’re terribly patient with them.” Around their feet are assortments of outer space weaponry. We know this is outer space weaponry because that’s what the labels on the shipping crates state. Angus looks around, sees what appears to be the front door a half-mile away, and runs like hell towards it. At least fleeing from school bullies has made his sprinting abilities Olympic caliber.

Arriving home, Angus asks his parents about the new house which, if he remembers correctly, was not even there that morning. What about the new neighbors with the heavy gun emplacements around them? Their malaria infested kids dripping forms of radioactive mucous? Did they also know they were aliens?

They laugh robotically, while moving equally as stilted. His parents tell him that while he was authoring unpalatable poetry down by the fishing hole, to a girl who finds him as unpleasant as rancid tree bark, the new neighbors constructed that garish-looking mansion over the toxic landfill. Angus feels comforted by his parent’s belief in his writing ability.

The new neighbors had, seconds earlier, brought over a plate of their homemade pancakes. They had asked whether Angus might be available for some babysitting chores a few hours a week. Angus had already passed the kids’ first employment exam: something called the vomiting and not dissolving into puke itself test, a problem encountered by previous job applicants. Now wasn't Angus happy that his parents had rubbed cooking oil over his bottom as a baby? Working as a babysitter, the new neighbors believe, would broaden Angus’s horizons and perhaps force him to write poetry that rhymed. His parents had given their approval.

This was all quite strange to Angus. His parents had never volunteered him for anything other than “Scared Geekless Boot Camp.” Why were his parents talking to him in a strange staccato fashion as if they were hypnotized? What was with their new eating habits? Pancakes without syrup. How did the neighbors know his name or that his poetry did not rhyme? It all began to feel like a Scooby mystery.

That evening, the family of seven comes over to visit. The adults introduce themselves as Stephen and Stephanie Foster and throw more pancakes to Angus’s parents, as if they were lions at a zoo. They devour them as zombies devour fresh, live flesh. The Fosters are happy to note that Angus survived the car sickness test. So many hadn’t, and family compensation costs have become more and more expensive. Anyway, their poor darlings always suffer car sickness during long journeys -- especially when they forget to give their children normal bathroom breaks.

The Fosters are ecstatic to learn that Angus is a registered Aupair, and has been for the last fifteen years. Mrs. Foster says being a conscientious parent today is so difficult when both breadwinners must work long distances from home. Many times she and Mister Foster can’t break away from their respective assignments to make it back in time to pick their sweet lovely children up from school, or serve them milk and cookies, or help them with their homework, or sing them sweet lullabies at night.

Their children are well mannered, polite, and quite studious. The position would be a snap, especially now that Agnus has been inoculated with all of their germs. Mrs. Foster and her husband promise that Angus's life would not change one iota if he accepts their offer. In fact, they can guarantee that all of his obligations, chores, and homework assignments would be done on time without missing a single beat. And best of all Angus would get an hourly wage with benefits.

The five Foster kids jump on Angus and crawl all over him like body lice. While this responsibility would be best suited for a teenage girl spinster, the kids already have lockjawed themselves to Angus. How could he break their hearts, all fifteen of them, by saying no?

His parents look up from a tray of non-syrupy pancakes long enough to sign their Hancocks along the dotted line on a contract seemingly pulled out of thin air. With that, Angus is now duly employed. They tell Angus that his first babysitting chore is still weeks away, so kick back and enjoy life. His parents have just committed their son to working with aliens and all they got out of the deal was a bunch of lousy dry pancakes?

That night, as Angus sits doing his homework, the entire Foster Family materialize before his eyes. Both Foster parents are armed to the teeth and look ready to kick some ass, anyone's ass. Mr. Foster apologizes for such short notice, but he and his wife must leave immediately. Work beckons. Could Angus please take care of their little babies until they return? The kids swarm over Angus like maggots on putrefied flesh.

Foster family panic spreads out like warm butter in Angus’s bedroom. The babies are crying. Mister and Mrs. Foster dance and talk hurriedly in a foreign tongue that sounds like words recorded backwards with a disco beat in the background. They drop very large weapons of mass destruction around Angus’s bedroom. Angus remains calm and asks what could possible take them away from home at 11 PM.

Emergency assignments pop up constantly now that they have been assigned to the most violent sector in the entire Universe: the Earth Quadrant. Getting to know the shortcuts through asteroid belts and comet clusters is not as easy as it looks on Google. Right now, they have to settle a domestic disturbance on Jupiter and neither one has any idea which black hole to use. They haven’t even stopped for donuts and coffee yet.

The life of a parent is all about worry this and fretting over that. This new job assignment has come up so suddenly that they still own a house in the Andromeda Hills they need to unload. Finding an affordable home in such an expensive area of the Universe took more time than expected, so they were forced to take the first toxic landfill available on the market. They still have to worry about private schools, private piano, ballet and marksmanship classes to sign up for and that’s just for them. Mrs. Foster begins to weep as she checks all of her body armaments. Mr. Foster comforts his wife in a manly fashion: He throws up his hands and walks to the other side of the room.

Angus has homework assignments in history, government, and earthworms due tomorrow. No need to worry, say the Fosters. They have a wonderful gift for their new au pair. Behind the screaming five kids stands a robot, a silent Angus Aupair. It’s Angus's very own clone, brand new and straight off the assembly line and programmed for any scheduling emergency.

In fact Angus Clone is programmed to do homework, think, talk, and act exactly like the real Angus. Best of all, it comes with its own carrying case. The android is so flawlessly designed Angus’s parents would be hard pressed to discern the difference. Angus Clone will substitute for Angus whenever he is called away for au pair duty. Mrs. Foster promises they will be home in time for Angus to sit at his breakfast table as himself.

Each Foster carries on them a gadget (I like the word transponder, but in their lingo, it’s called a gvetchener). Whenever he’s needed by any of them, the gvetchener is pushed. Angus disappears, replaced in the blink of an eye by Angus Clone; so quickly, in fact, that no one will know the difference. Mr. Foster tells him not to worry. His family has never been push button happy gvetcheners. Both parents warn him not to be swayed by the pleas of their children. They can be awfully persuasive.

With that, everyone vanishes from Angus’s room except Angus Clone. Angus Clone looks at the text books in front of him. Angus Clone looks at the clock: It is midnight. He sits down and closes all work assignments. He picks up the phone and orders six pizzas charged to Angus's parent’s credit card. He text messages Angus's classmates to come on over for a late night pool party. He promises to take them all to Las Vegas for the weekend. Apparently a few bugs exist in Angus Clone that the factory failed to recognize.

Angus walks around lost in the very large Foster home of so many rooms with so much bad furniture. Where are the bathrooms? The refrigerator? Do aliens go to the bathroom? Do they eat anything but dry pancakes? The children sit enraptured in front of a very large home entertainment unit. They hold each other in fear. Angus freaks out himself at what they are watching.

He turns off the set immediately. It is time for bed. Where are their bedrooms? Their toothbrushes? Their P.J’s? The kids point past an old-fashioned picture window that opens out onto the far recesses of outer space to a star very very far away. A spacecraft wafts slowly down from the ceiling. It is time to go home and sleep in their real beds. No one likes this new house. All of their toys are still back in the old one. Their parents will never know. The spacecraft has auto pilot, so all Angus need do is get in. The "brain" will not take orders from anyone other than their parents or their new au pair. But Angus is only fifteen. He doesn’t even have a learner’s permit yet. Will Angus read them the bedtime story of how the six galaxies blew up? That's their favorite. The ship blasts out into space.

Back home across the street, the police have arrived to break up the food fight, disco dance, and pool party. Angus Clone hides in the closest as the police cart away Angus AuPair's parents. When it is safe to come out, Angus Clone sits down in front of the computer and completes Angus’s homework for the following day. Angus Clone might have his faults but being unprepared for class is not one of them.


An ongoing series of events bent on unintentionally destroying the sanity of our main hero. A modern day version of Jekyll and Hyde, minus all the blood but with just as much screaming. Sounds sadistic but workable. Angus Aupair is all about a calm, introverted and rather perplexed kid trying to live through his teen years under a rock. He is under constant siege from both a screws and bolts loose clone who can't do anything right except make a complete mess out of Angus' life and five alien hellions who love him to pieces. Angus is now a parent, a protector, a teacher, and a foil.

In the language of Nervish, the mother tongue of the Fosters, 'au pair' has two specific meanings. Au Pair can describe “a person who takes care of other people’s children in a fashion similar to that of a parent minus the costs for room and board and college.” The second definition is of equal importance: "an unlucky bounder, usually a flustered boy who writes free verse poetry about rocks and girls, who now lives a life so chaotic, dangerous, and hair-raising that heads have been known to explode in slow motion.

The Foster family lied to him. They are a family of slap happy button pushing gvetcheners. Angus Aupair’s au pairing never ends. Walking home, singing in the shower, as he answers questions wrong in class or working feverishly on his homework at 3 AM. Suddenly: BOOM! He’s gone, disappearing so effortlessly that no one notices the Angus Clone replacement. There are those times when someone’s transponder, needing new double AA batteries, slices Angus in two—no blood, of course-- leaving his top part attached temporarily to Angus Clone’s bottom half and those forever dancing feet. Mistakes happen in all lines of work.

His charges: five kids with distinct dietary needs and demands, with homework problems, bully concerns and personality quirks. Kids who become agitated by sounds of paint drying and grass growing. Who wander off to see what’s on the other side of the universe. Whose favorite outdoor game is something called “hooligan tag” involving galaxies blowing up and black holes disappearing with a single Earth human stuck in the middle. And what of the multi-headed strays that follow them home? The Foster parents are not keen on pets, especially those that bring six foot fleas into their new Earth home.

Like any reliable surrogate parent, Angus must subsume his own survival instincts to keep the Foster Kids happy. So when he is not writing up versions of his last will and testament in non couplet rhymes, Angus spends his waking hours running, chasing, leaping, falling, and stumbling over more space time continuum than the Time Bandits.



Once, Angus wrote poetry and contemplated nature. He thought he had a girlfriend. He was totally ignored in school. Then Angus took on the job of au pair to five little tykes. His life is now in total free fall, but he pockets some nice walking around money in a currency good on Capricorn. Angus’s grades are better than ever because he no longer does any of his homework. His classmates watch his dance moves in awe; his teachers fear his intelligence; and the police have begun to follow his every move.


It might be the mirror image of Angus physically, but emotionally his alter ego is really out there, which is quite appropriate since that’s where he comes from. The Clone never shuts up, never stops dancing, and never quits acting like he’s all wound up with nowhere to go. He’s like a rabid used car salesman, an obnoxious telemarketer, a sleazy real estate hustler and the most trying class clown rolled into one. He’s a backslapper and a glad-hander. He is the perfect nudge, weaseling his way into every conversation regardless of topic. He raises his hand to answer questions in such a jerky fashion that he knocks everything within a five foot radius through walls. His work is always spotless and correct.

This kid would be hated by everyone, except he also gives out correct homework answers to anyone who asks. He volunteers for every assignment both in and out of school. He also volunteers everyone else as well. The principal constantly drags him into other teachers' classrooms to lecture on math and science because Angus Clone is a far better educator than anyone on staff. Even the government enjoys listening in on his lectures, as someone high up believes there is a weapon there someplace. Angus Clone stands up for all the little guys at school when picked on by the school bullies. This adds a certain air of suspense when the real Angus perp walks past them on the way to detention for crimes and misdemeanors committed by Angus Clone.


Roxanne knows something is not kosher with Angus. She just can’t quite figure out what’s up. One minute Angus is as fragile as a hot house flower; the next he struts around like an Olympic gold medalist. It’s all very confusing to her, but she plans on getting to the bottom of it. She finds the quiet, shy, and demure Angus who writes mushy poetry to her worthy of being a stalker with no class. However, Roxanne doesn’t mind the Angus who hands out homework answers as if he were a broken gumball machine. She loves his samba dancing skills as well.


PLOVER is lactose intolerant; he can’t digest anything except food from his old neighborhood or, at least, that’s his story. ALUM is so spoiled that when she isn’t given her way, she explodes sending her molecules dancing in all direction. CUSTARD lives by some mysterious book of rules that no one has ever seen or heard of and that includes his parents. SPINNER is not lazy; he just wants to be left alone to write poetry, dangle his feet over waterfalls, and look up at the stars. Angus wonders how any kid could develop a personality that twerpy. BERGAMOT has the worst case of St. Vitas Dance on record. He can’t sit still. He needs to be on the move constantly. Like all of his brothers and sisters, he has no discernable teeth.

The kids have a select group of super powers, the least of which is the ability to teleport anywhere in the universe merely because they can. They do stuff to Angus that could only happen in a world devoid of all physical reality. Angus gets turned inside out, miniaturized, elongated, dematerialized, blown up, his DNA restructured into animal, vegetable and mineral and much worse as the five prank, punk and puke all over him. Angus believes Mr. and Mrs. Foster would much rather stay late on the rings of Saturn handing out parking tickets than come home to their pain in the ass offspring.


Angus is not quite sure whether the kids' father is an undercover intergalactic cop, a villain on the scale of Darth Vader, or Barney Fife. Mr. Foster constantly talks about his work, can barely walk for all the armaments he carries with him, and is always buying cooking utensils on line. Like all fathers, he loves telling stories about his own childhood. Like all children, they don’t care. He has a wonderful sense of humor because everyone laughs at him.


Angus thinks Mrs. Foster has something to do intergalactic weapons testing but is not quite sure because she is too busy selling cooking utensils on line. At home she is a whirlwind of matriarchal attention, driving the kids to soccer practice, piano recitals, and gymnastics classes. She also allows her children to stay up late and watch planets collide and supernovas to explode.


Since Angus started this au pair job, his parents have had the best run of luck in the world, winning the lottery every day. In fact they no longer go to work at all. They sit home and eat pancakes and speak in a glazed, glassy-eyed monotone.


Plover’s lactose intolerance forces everyone to go to his favorite restaurant in the Foster’s old neighborhood; but they immediately run into a slight problem. A villainous force has uprooted the entire building and is holding it and its chief chef hostage until he makes a secret dish newly discovered on an uncivilized planet. Captured by the bad guys, it looks like curtains for Angus and the kids until Plover tells them that Angus can make the secret dish: macaroni and cheese using hamburger helper. Give up the recipe and Plover will have a lifetime supply of his favorite food, the one that keeps moving even when ingested. Whatever Angus makes tastes like macaroni and cheese with hamburger helper. All are saved. Plover brings back to Earth his live food.

Alum’s throws one of her patented hissy-fits and disintegrates just as Spinner sneezes, sending her molecules into all sorts of areas where young molecules are not supposed to go. Most end up magnetized in a nuclear reactor. To put Alum back together again could cause Earth to disintegrate. The kids say cool to that. Angus wonders how history would judge his actions were that to happen.

Angus Clone discovers he has misplaced a few bolts while playing semi-professional football for the local college (remember he is 15 years old). Before he falls apart totally and misses the big pop quiz math exam, Real Angus and the kids have to transport him back to the factory for repairs. The Factory is a zillion light years from Earth and in an area of town that scares the kids witless. Every building houses dentists.

The five kids get into their parents’ secret den full of very large weapons of mass destruction. By the time they are finished playing with the weapons, Earth is spinning the wrong way and gravity is quickly disappearing.

The five kids want to visit their parents at their jobs. Before Angus can do anything about it, the kids hold hands and teleport themselves to a war zone on a planet way up there. Angus has to get the kids back to Earth and working on their homework before their parents find out and shoot Angus into space.


SECTION ONE: You shall be hired for the position of au pair with all rights afforded you under the Au Pair Federation including health and welfare benefits, a room of your own when convenient, private entrance when applicable, and clean towels when available. You shall accompany the parents into battle whenever necessary.

SECTION TWO: You are to be friendly, courteous, kind, and gentle to the children of Unpronounceable Last Name for they are impressionable, naïve and innocent. Do whatever their parents feel is necessary to broaden the children's horizons. You are, however, forbidden to place them in any dangerous circumstances or lead them into troublesome situations without consent from said Parents or Guardians. You will not be allowed to handle any live armaments around the children unless they wish to be part of the battle.

SECTION THREE: The children should be taught fully the ways of the au pair’s home planet’s culture and manners by afternoon field trips when opportunities arise.

SECTION FOUR: You shall have two weeks a year of paid leave and every other weekend off to go home, if it's not too far away.

SECTION FIVE: You are to have no personal visits from friends or relatives without written approval of the Unpronounceable Last Name family, for such visitors could be spies or enemies of the family.

SECTION SIX: You are not to tell anyone about your position as au pair lest you be kidnapped by some other aliens desiring your services.

SECTION SEVEN: Should you fail to live up to the Au Pair Federation’s high standards of responsibility, you will be removed from the position forthwith and placed in solitary confinement on Mars. Your home planet will be DESTROYED forthwith as well.

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