They're the types of odd characters that have become prolific in UFO literature, and for some they are the very stuff which nightmares are made of. Countless researchers over the years, from John Keel and Brad Steiger, to Timothy Green Beckley, Nick Redfern, and your humble narrator here present, have had our own run-ins and enduring fascination with the phenomenon known as Men in Black.
Speaking of my Para-Pal and fellow Mysterious Universe blogger Nick Redfern, his latest offering is none other than a tome that deals exclusively with the strange and so-called MIB phenomenon, called The Real Men in Black: Evidence, Famous Cases, and True Stories of these Mysterious Men and their Connection to UFO Phenomena. Duly, with the release of this well-anticipated book, there will be a good bit of interest in the subject over the coming months... but what's more, we can likely expect there to be new theories and strange evidence emerge as to the true nature of these curious characters. In fact, there are already some pretty wild theories that have been emerging lately, and it would simply be in poor taste if we didn't hash out a few of them here.
The very most recent idea of interest involves the notion that some reports of MIBs related to UFO sightings could deal with (get this) civilian UFO researchers suffering from mild forms of autism or conditions such as Asberger's Syndrome. Doug Skinner, moderator of the John Keel Website, brings to our attention a fascinating series of events that transpired outside the pages of Keel's classic Mothman Prophecies, detailing what may be the further exploits of one of the most notorious "MIB" types to appear in the book. Specifically, in Chapter 8 of TMP, a large, curious-acting fellow called "Tiny" was mentioned, known for wearing a furry Russian-style hat and thick-soled shoes. Skinner notes that, "John sent a detailed report of this encounter to other researchers shortly after it happened. He included some details that didn’t make it into the book, such as Tiny’s penchant for sing-song recitations of verse."
Apparently, one of Keel's contacts, Charles Bowen, admitted having a peculiar experience with a similar weirdo (perhaps too similar to be ignored, as the following transcript seems to relate):
I am now seriously perturbed. In November I received a letter from [deleted] who announced that he was flying over to England to do research in the British Museum (checking on a manuscript about vampires!)... He rang me on arrival, & I collected him at West Byfleet station on Saturday, Dec. 10. I discovered him to be a huge young man — at a guess 240 lbs. — & about 6 ft. 3 ins., fair haired, very thin on top. Wore a check shirt & ducks, riding high above his ankles, & thick soled shoes. He had a shabby overcoat, & sported a Russian style of fur hat! His speech was a monotonous, emotionless, expressionless, mechanical one-pitch perpetual motion. He often broke into poetry by Milton & Edgar Allan Poe, reciting it as though he had learnt it computer fashion. He drank the best part of a bottle of my Martini & got himself well sloshed — & ranted on about poor misunderstood Hitler etc. etc. My family regarded him rather as they might do a cobra, & expressed a feeling of repugnance. I thought he was a schizo.
Indeed, this sounds very similar to Keel's goon, right down to the "Russian style fur hat." Perhaps it's not beyond the realm of the possible that some reports of MIBs could in fact deal with the appearances of weirdos who were actually pursuing the phenomenon in question themselves... and occasionally appeared slightly out-of-place contrasted with the given environment.
In fact, just to illustrate this, I shared a funny story with Nick a little while ago, which he subsequently used in The Real Men in Black, detailing how even yours truly was, on at least a few occasions, was thought to have been an MIB! Years ago, in an attempt to maintain a professional appearance with regard to various research I had been conducting (some of which involved psychic phenomenon and reports of spirit manifestations at a four-star resort and spa), I had taken to wearing suits and, occasionally, apparatus that included an earpiece which connected to a walkie-talkie. This way, I could correspond with others around the building, and their communication would arrive more discreetly in my earpiece, rather than hissing across the speaker of the device in my pocket. Granted, at the time I would have been doing this many years ago, earpieces weren't as commonplace as they are in this modern day of Bluetooth devices and the like, so despite my best attempts at remaining incognito, I still probably managed to stick out like a sore thumb. What's more, the suit I recall wearing on a number of those occasions had been a finely tailored black suit... hey, what could possibly go wrong here?
Needless to say, though most of the hotel occupants who took special notice of me merely asked how to locate the concierge's desk, apparently a few had taken time to share their experiences with seeing "Men in Black" around the building, which they occasionally saw speaking with visitors about "strange phenomenon" and even wielding odd-looking meters and other devices. The stories were related to me years after the fact by Joshua P. Warren (to whom many of the "incidents" had been reported), much to my humor and amazement. Though Josh didn't think my presence in the area could constitute all the sightings, I couldn't rule out that I was, in fact, at least one of the location's infamous "MIBs." Sometimes, even trying to be discreet and non-invasive can lead to the mysterious impression of subversive happenings.
But there are far more ominous representations of the MIB presence. Consider the opening chapter of Keel's classic book, titled "Beelzebub visits West Virginia," which described the following encounter on the doorstep of a West Virginia residence along a dark, lonely country road at around 3 AM:
"He was over six feet tall and dressed entirely in black. He wore a black suit, black tie, black hat, and black overcoat, with impractical black dress shoes covered with mud. His face, barely visible in the darkness, sported a neatly trimmed mustache and goatee. The flashes of lightning behind him added an eerie effect."
Keel went on to describe how the fiend had been refused the use of a telephone that stormy evening... and how tragically, the couple in residence would pass away only weeks later in one of the greatest accidents involving American Infrastructure in history: the collapse of the Silver Bridge, around which the alleged "prophecy" of the Mothman hung like smoke in a still room. "Being a dedicated nonconformist is not easy these days," Keel went on to say, "I grew my beard in 1966 while loafing for a week on the farm of my friend, zoologist Ivan T. Sanderson. I kept it until 1968 when hair became popular and half the young men in America suddenly began burying their identities in a great set of facial hair." With due remorse, Keel stated that he, "would prefer to believe that I did not look like the devil in my late beard. I certainly had no intention of launching new legends when my car ran off the road in West Virginia that November and I plodded from house to house searching for a telephone so I could call a tow truck."
So apparently, even the most astute researchers among us have from time to time been mistaken for Beelzebub or some other freakish devil... maybe even an MIB. Obviously, it happened to Keel, and I've experienced the phenomenon myself so many years after the fact. Therefore, next time you see a UFO, if an odd fellow should appear on your doorstep asking questions about your experience, before you invite him in you may want to ask a few relevant questions: "Do you work with the government?" You might also try, "How did you know I had seen a UFO in the first place?" But above all, be absolutely certain to ask if their last name should happen to be Hanks or Redfern, and if they write for a very popular Australian website dedicated to the strange and unusual called Mysterious Universe.