The aliens came for our butts.
Nobody knew that at first, of course. At first everybody just thought, Woah, aliens.
An enormous crowd formed around the saucer when it landed. There were reporters, police, even the army. The president was patched in via satellite.
A hatch on the bottom of the craft opened, and steam came out, just like in a movie. Following the steam was an alien, as tall and as green as you like, wearing a one-piece silver suit.
A top military official approached. He raised a bullhorn to his mouth, keeping his distance, and said, “Who are you?”
“We are from a planet that you cannot possibly pronounce,” the alien said, “whose closest approximation in your tongue is ‘Tralpathia.’”
The military man cleared his throat. “Noble Tralpathians,” he said, a little bit awkwardly, “why are you here?”
“We’re here for your butts,” the alien said.
The silence, all across the globe, was deafening. The president’s jaw, which had stayed firm through domestic and international crisis after domestic and international crisis, dropped.
“Um,” said the military official. “What?”
The Tralpathian placed his hands on the front of his silver suit, and a brilliant blue light fanned out in front of him. Projected in the light was butt, after butt, after butt.
Kim Kardashian. Meghan Trainor. Nicki Minaj. Swimsuit issues. Music videos. Floating, slightly bluish butts, suspended in front of a confused military officer and a positively drooling Tralpathian.
“We intercepted your transmissions,” he said. “Your television shows, your films, your commercials, your artwork — bouncing through the reaches of the universe. And after careful analysis, the thing that we found adored and beloved above all else is these butts. They appear everywhere. They must be your greatest natural resource.”
All at once, the people of Earth realized just how many butts they’d shot into outer space.
“Ah,” said the military officer. “Well.”
The Tralpathian raised where we would have expected an eyebrow to be. “Is this not true?” He closed his eyes, as if communicating with the others on the ship. “Derriéres?” He asked. “Rears? Asses?”
He paused. “Badonkadonks?”
The military officer started to turn red.
Ultimately, we gave the aliens subscriptions to all of our most popular magazines and sent them on their way. It felt petty to correct their mistake, with all their star-spanning and lightspeed-hopping technology, and telling them about fossil fuels or minerals would have created more problems than it solved.
They wanted butts, and butts they got. If they could figure out a way to harness them into some sort of energy, more power to them.
Which left us standing on the surface of Earth, waving goodbye to the friendly Tralpathians, asking ourselves: “How, exactly, did we come to put so much emphasis on butts that aliens thought they had to be our greatest natural resource?”
In the end, we never really could figure it out.