Human beings eat and drink a lot of strange things. The discharged unfertilized ova of fowl, for example. The eyeballs of sheep. The yellow sticky secretions of small insects. Coffee beans extracted from the droppings of animals. The chemicals excreted by yeast. Fungus dug out of the ground by pigs. And so on.
I thought, suppose there were aliens out there. Suppose they came to earth, seeking not friendship, but gourmet delicacies. Being aliens, they’d probably have even more bizarre feeding habits than us; and things which we find disgusting or inedible, they might find delicious.
So I thought, just suppose the aliens landed. And suppose what they really loved, their favourite food, their nectar of the gods, suppose it was dog shit. The excretions of canines.
I mean, why not? It smells funny, but so does caviare. It’s full of bacteria, but so is yoghurt. We find it inedible, but then, we find eucalyptus leaves inedible, and koalas love them.
So, the aliens land, and they want to gorge themselves on dogshit.
I thought: How would the world’s press handle this one? Would President Clinton invite the aliens to a state banquet? Would it be shown on CNN?
Imagine: Every single pavement would be cleared overnight. Children would be able to play in the park or on the beach. Dog owners would be scouring the ground behind their pets, pooper scoopers and jam jars in hand. People would get involved in the extraterrestrial trade, as middlemen.
Perhaps there’d be a black market. People would walk up to you on street corners and ask you if you wanted to buy any shit. If something was really valuable, you’d say “This is shit”. If it was a priceless antique, you’d say “This is some old shit”, as the well-matured stuff would doubtless be popular with the aliens too, simply because of its scarcity.
People would learn to recognize different varieties of shit. Maybe the aliens would be crazy about labrador, but not at all keen on poodle. People would sniff at pavement scrapings knowledgably before deciding whether to make a bid for them. There’d be magazines like “What Shit” to cater to the specialist collector as well as the volume trader.
So I thought about all this, and I concluded: This’d be a great idea for a low-budget movie. I should at least write a short story about it.
And then later that day I thought again: Mmmmmaybe not.
And the next day I thought: That was the most stupid and puerile idea for a short story you have ever come up with.
And a few weeks later I thought: You should post it anyway.
And then today, I thought: I’ve a nasty feeling this is something I’ve inadvertently half-remembered from an article by Roger Carasso.