“What passes for sanity on your planet is sending shivers down the spine of the rest of the galaxy.”—anonymous alien
If you mention Men in Black, most people automatically think that you’re referring to those ridiculous movies with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. What most of them don’t realize is that these movies were based on a real phenomenon that has been experienced by hundreds of UFO witnesses and investigators – maybe even thousands since we have no way of knowing how many of them chose to keep their story to themselves.
The general scenario goes like this: Someone sees a UFO or has some UFO related encounter. A day or two later, they are visited by anywhere from one to three men dressed in black suits, ties and hats. Sometimes they even wear black sunglasses and/or gloves. They usually claim to be government agents and their obvious intent is to threaten and intimidate the witnesses into keeping their mouths shut about what they have seen. This sounds reasonable enough on the surface, but here’s one of the biggest kinks in that theory: Sometimes the witness hadn’t reported their sighting to anyone. There have been a few cases where the person didn’t even tell their own spouse what they had seen. How would government agents know what someone had witnessed if they didn’t tell anyone?
There are some variations on this theme. Sometimes they dress in military uniforms and claim to be Air Force officers. This sounds plausible as well, but there are also some problems with this story. In one case, the witness said that the man’s hair was too long for him to be in the military. Another time, the man being visited was himself a former Air Force officer and he was able to immediately recognize that their uniforms weren’t authentic. He admitted that they were good enough to fool most people, but not someone who had worn the genuine article for years.
In some cases, they aren’t threatening at all. In these instances they just seem to be interested in gathering information about what the witness saw. Sometimes they don’t even mention UFOs at all and invent some pretext for visiting the witness in an apparent attempt to gather personal information about them. They have also harassed some paranormal investigators whose area of interest isn’t UFO related at all…or so it would seem. There have even been people who have never seen or had an interest in anything out of the ordinary who have just encountered these men in their daily lives. Nevertheless, even when they’re not trying to be intimidating, the still tend to creep people out with their unusual appearance and bizarre mannerisms and behavior. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at examples of most of the above, with the exception of the most common scenario. There’s plenty of information about those available from a multitude of sources. This is about the ones that fall outside of the typical “intimidating the UFO witness” category. Sometimes these sinister entities can even be somewhat amusing and (dare I say it?) even a little endearing…in a creepy, inhuman sort of way.
Obviously, it goes without saying that they have failed miserably in their mission if their true goal is to silence people about their UFO sightings. All that they’ve actually accomplished is to make themselves yet another infamous aspect of UFO phenomena, hence the movies bearing their name. Sometimes their visits even have the opposite effect of their stated purpose. There have been UFO witnesses who had no intention of talking to anyone about their sighting until they were so angered by the MiB’s threats that they went on record out of spite. Others have done the same out of fear. They believed that these men really were government agents and that by going public with their story they could protect themselves. If they were to mysteriously disappear or suffer an “unfortunate accident,” everyone would know what really happened. A third group who have decided to tell their stories are the witnesses who didn’t think that their UFO sightings were all that spectacular and therefore not worth making a fuss over. What changed their minds was the visit from the MiB. Their sighting may not have been all that interesting, but their subsequent encounter with weird, creepy men dressed all in black who sound like robots when they talk definitely was.
The MiB usually fall into one of two categories as far as their physical appearance is concerned. They are most often described as being small and generically Asian with dark complexions, slanted eyes and pointed features, or pale and abnormally thin to the point of sometimes being likened to walking corpses. The latter type is also sometimes reported as being completely devoid of hair on their heads. That is, they aren’t just bald and clean shaven; they also have no eyebrows or lashes. One witness even reported that his mysterious visitor was wearing red lipstick in an attempt to hide the fact that his mouth was actually just a lipless slit. Their speech is often described as being monotone or robotic. They are frequently seen arriving and/or departing in black cars, usually Cadillacs and often with tinted windows, even when these were fairly rare. If witnesses get a license plate number, it turns out to be nonexistent.
They also often know a lot about their victims – intimate details about their lives that even a government agency wouldn’t know. On the other hand, they sometimes get simple things wrong, like mispronouncing names or mentioning someone’s four children when the person only has three. And they have a habit of disappearing around corners. If they are being pursued, they tend to turn a corner where they are momentarily lost from sight. When their pursuer rounds the same corner, they find that their quarry has simply vanished. If there happen to be other people there, they invariably say that they didn’t see anyone come around the corner matching that description.
One of the more unusual and seemingly harmless MiB encounters took place in January of 1967 and involved the Christiansen family of Wildwood, New Jersey. In November, they had seen a UFO. Two months later, they received a visit from the strangest man that any of them had ever seen.
At 5:30 on the evening of January 9, a man came to their door claiming to be from the Missing Heirs Bureau and said that Mr. Christiansen might have inherited a large sum of money. Mr. Christiansen said that he doubted that, but they let him in anyway and agreed to answer some questions.
Unlike most MiB, this one was huge. He was about six and a half feet tall and weighed around three hundred pounds. Like many MiB, he was pale to the point that the family thought that he must be sick. He wore a black hat and a long, black coat over a white shirt and black pants, socks and shoes. His pants were too short for his size and rose halfway up his calves when he sat down. Both Mrs. Christiansen and their teenage daughter noticed that there was a green wire running up one of his legs from his sock up into the bottom of his pants. His eyes were large and bulged out from his head, and he spoke in a high, tinny, monotone voice that didn’t match his large frame. He speech came in short, efficient clips that made him sound as if he were reciting his lines from memory. His hair was black and very short and there was a round bald spot on the back of his head. When they offered him something to eat, he declined but said that he would like some water in about ten minutes.
He introduced himself, but none of them could later recall his name. What they remembered was that he said that his friends called him “Tiny.” He then proceeded to ask them numerous questions about their family, some of which sounded like nothing that would be relevant to tracking down a missing heir, but none of which had anything to do with UFOs. As the interview continued, the man’s face became redder and redder until he said that he was ready for that glass of water. Once he got it, he used it to take a yellow pill, after which his face returned to its pasty normal.
When he was leaving, Mrs. Christiansen watched him go. She had noticed when she answered the door that there was no car outside and thought that this was odd. She wanted to see how he was getting around. When he got to the street, he motioned to someone and a black Cadillac with tinted windows pulled up with its lights out despite the darkness of their relatively remote neighborhood. Tiny got in and the car pulled away with the lights still out.
The next day, Mr. Christiansen got a call from a woman who told him that the actual heir had been found, and they promptly forgot the whole matter until they were interviewed about their UFO sighting by John Keel the following month. When he asked if they’d had any unusual visitors since their sighting, the stunned looks on their faces told him that they had. He quickly separated them so that he could hear each of their accounts of the event as they remembered it. He concluded that this was one of the more bizarre but least unnerving Man in Black encounters that he had heard.
Another weird but harmless MiB tale from Keel’s files includes the poor, hapless Man in Black who just wanted to get a bite to eat. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t seem to any idea how to do that, at least if he was trying to be inconspicuous.
He ambled into a popular Manhattan restaurant one day and sat down in a booth. He was tall and clumsy with a dark complexion, sharp features and bulging eyes. He wore a black hat, ill-fitting suit that was out of style: two common features in MiB encounters. When a waitress asked what she could get for him, he replied “Something to eat.” She handed him a menu and he stared at it as if he had no idea what it was. “Food,” he reiterated. The waitress suggested a steak, and he agreed. When she brought it to him, he just looked at it for a moment, then looked around at the other diners and figured out that he was supposed to eat it using a knife and fork. He obviously had no idea how to do this, so the waitress, who was a bit confused herself at this point, showed him how they worked. She then asked him where he was from, which seems like a perfectly reasonable question under the circumstances. “Another world,” was the reply. A group of employees then gathered and watched from across the room as the man awkwardly hacked and slashed his way through the meal. How he paid and whether or not he was a generous tipper isn’t given.
One might wonder if such a ridiculous series of events wasn’t staged. But if so, to what end? If Patrick Harpur is right, the Men in Black phenomenon, like the whole multifaceted UFO experience in all of its inscrutable guises, might fall into the realm of the daimonic (not to be confused with demonic), and daimons are all ultimately tricksters at heart. Maybe he was just there to screw with the reality of the staff and clientele of an upscale restaurant that was popular with successful, artsy types like Andy Warhol and Allen Ginsberg. That sounds like something that a Trickster would do to snooty, avant-garde types who are maybe a little too full of themselves. Or maybe he was just a guy from another planet who was looking for something to eat.
Naturally, the MiB have harassed those who have photographed UFOs, but a man in England may have done even more than that. In May of 1964, a fireman named James Templeton was taking photos of his young daughter in a park near Solway Firth, but soon discovered that he had gotten more than he bargained for. When he had the film developed, one of the pictures clearly showed a man in the background in what looks like some kind of space suit. Templeton was certain that this person hadn’t been there when he took the photo, and you would definitely think that this would be something that you would remember. Both the lab that had developed the film and police experts examined the photograph and the negative and concluded that it was genuine. Some maintain that the figure is merely the back of Templeton’s wife along with some fortuitous tricks of light and shadow. That does seem like the most logical explanation, but it doesn’t explain what happened shortly after the photo went public.
After it was published worldwide, Templeton said that he was visited by two men who claimed to be government agents but refused to show him any identification and who only referred to each other as “Number 9” and “Number 14.” Despite this, he agreed to get in their car and take them to the exact spot where the picture was taken. During their time together, Templeton said that they not only asked him questions about the photo, but also seemingly irrelevant ones about such things as his knowledge of UFOs and whether he had seen any unusual birds in the area that day. Their time together concluded with the two men suddenly becoming argumentative and trying to get him to admit that the photo was a fake. When he refused, they got in their car and drove away, leaving Templeton to make his way home from the park on foot.
If that really was just Templeton’s wife in the background and not something out of the ordinary, is it possible that beings who know when someone has seen a UFO (even when they didn’t report it) could not know the difference between a legitimate unexplained photograph and a simple case of mistaken identity? Maybe.
Sometimes the camera is on the other foot. The Men in Black have turned out to be prolific shutterbugs themselves, and many witnesses have seen them snapping photos, including the occasional neighbor or bystander who has no knowledge of or connection to any UFO event. More often than not, they seem to be more interested in taking pictures of the houses of UFO witnesses and investigators rather than the actual people themselves. No one has any particularly good theories as to why this might be.
There have many instances of this, and they’re all pretty much the same – so much so that there’s no single case that I’m aware of that stands out to the point of being worth going into detail about. The standard scenario is pretty straightforward. A strange looking man (or men) dressed entirely in black and driving a black car, usually a Cadillac, pulls up to a house, gets out with a large camera and snaps one or two pictures of the home, then gets back in the car and drives away without saying a word to anyone. When this happens at night, witnesses have said on many occasions that the flash used by the mysterious photographer is unusually bright. For some, this is the only MiB contact that they have, and they almost never consider it to be related to their UFO sighting until some savvy investigator asks them if they’ve had any encounters with unusual men dressed in black. There’s obviously no way of knowing how many people that this has happened to who either spoke to an investigator who was not so savvy or never bothered to report their sighting to anyone at all.
And since this is taking much longer than I thought, this seems like as good a place as any to stop. We’ll pick it up again next week with cases in which it was the MiB who ended up being caught on film, as well as the story which is possibly the best combination of amusing and interesting of any Man in Black encounter…although maybe not so much for the teenage girl who was home alone when it happened. Her concept of reality definitely took a beating that day.