I would like you to meet V838 Monocerotis, or(V838 Mon as he’s known to his friends.
Say hey to Mon. Say it out loud.
Mon is a red star in the Unicorn constellation. That’s just cool. Everyone likes unicorns.
`Well, now that we have seen each other,’ said the Unicorn, `if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you.” -Lewis Carrol
See, Lewis Carrol likes unicorns. I first read “Alice” when I was really young, but that particular quote never stood out until I saw it on the pearled unicorn Magic: The Gathering card.
Mon is a unicorn I believe in.
The reason he’s called V838 is simple. He’s a variable star, which means that he has gotten brighter and dimmer in the time we’ve been watching him. That’s where the V comes from. As star voyeurs, we’ve only been looking through his bedroom window for thirty years or so, which means we’ve found 837 variable stars before him. It took him a long time to open his curtains, and that earned him the place 838 in our little naming system.
He opened his curtains to show us something, but everyone seems to want to argue about what it is. You see, we grabbed our binoculars too late, so we only got to see the aftermath, we didn’t get to see the action. What we’re witnessing now is the galactic level equivalent to having the cops in the yard and the neighbors on their front lawn watching. Still in their housecoats. Probably with a dog.
The point is, no one knows what happened, and we’re still new to the galaxy so we have trouble with the language and can’t ask what’s going on. Even the dog probably knows by now, but not us in our bathrobes clutching our arms to our chest as we stare into the binoculars floating in our front lawn that allow us to see across the huge plane that is our neighborhood.
What nobody knows, though, is that me and Mon-we’re friends. I met him when we were both studying Chinese back at Shanxi University. He can’t speak English, but we were able to communicate a bit in Mandarin and you know what he told me?
He was hungry.
That’s it. That’s what the big hullabaloo is all about. He got hungry, and ate one of the annoying neighbor kids that was running around his yard. He would never have gotten caught if it wasn’t for those meddling kids and that mangy dog.
And the kid gave him gas. He forgot to take his Beano before he ate.
As a side note, my uncle used to think that you could grind up Beano and add it to chili. You can, but it doesn’t do anything that way.
Mon says he’s doing fine, and he’s sorry about the commotion, and everyone will be gone soon so the neighborhood-at least his part of it-will quiet down again soon. He also says you should turn on some Ziggy Marley right now.