Tonight I am making my debut on stage with the band Robots from the Future. The first time I heard about RFTF I formed the mistaken impression that the band consisted of Keith Lodermeier, Reynold Kissling and Mitch Miller, played new wave nerd art rock, and had been around for a few years playing shows and putting out CDs. I believed that the description of the band at http://robomofos.com was mere marketing hype:
Robots from the Future is a group of pan-sexual, shape-shifting android butlers, born in the future, residing in the present (your present) in Minneapolis, MN, and they love run-on sentences, and running on sentences. You’d think that beings with the ability to travel great distances in space and time wouldn’t have a primary location but robots get lazy. Just think of all the crazy implications they’d have to deal with once they got back to their own time. They can engage in coitus with their ancestors and not have to deal with having never been born—or being born more than once—if they just stay put in the past. That’s how it works.
It was not until I saw them perform at Cause a while ago that the truth was revealed to me. After their set I spent some time speaking to Keith and told him that I enjoyed their performance. Keith politely inquired if I would be interested in performing with the band on keyboards. Seeing as how I was the proud owner of not one, but two (music) keyboards, ten fingers, and a fairly decent amount of alcohol in my bloodstream I said “sure!”. Little did I know what would next befall me.
It started innocently enough. An email, a list of songs, a couple of CDs, then a practice with Keith to go over the parts. But the second practice is when things got weird. I arrived as I normally would, keyboards and gear in tow, and knocked on the door to the practice space. The door opened but it was no longer the practice space I remembered from the first visit. The room was at least three times too large and there was a tennis court that had definitely not been there previously. Keith was nowhere to be seen, but his hair was there, shining silver and moving as if attached to an unseen body. Suddenly the room reverted to a more typical practice space and there stood Keith as if nothing had happened.
“Oh. Ryan. You, ah, weren’t supposed to see all that quite yet,” he said.
“What was all that? The room! The tennis! Your hair!”
Keith let out a long sigh and said, “Transdimensional room, tennis is the official sport of the future we come from, and my cloaking system doesn’t work on my hair. I was trying to fix that. Look, if you’re going to join this band, I will have let you in on all of our band secrets, eventually, but there is something you must first do.”
“What?”, I asked.
Keith replied by placing his right hand around his left wrist and with a fluid motion, twisting his hand off. He held the disembodied hand out towards me, it’s finger pointing at my forehead. Circuits and electricity glimmered in the stump of the left wrist.
“You must be transformed as we have been transformed from the flesh of man to a robot. Only then will you be able to truly comprehend the scale of our mission to this time.”
I froze. The room began to change again. I turned for the door but it had disappeared. Behind me, two lights shimmered and Reynold and Mitch appeared brandishing laser rifles. There was no escape. I was trapped. I wanted to play with the band. I had my keyboards with me. I had learned most of the parts. And I was curious about these strange alien beings. But I did not wish to be transformed into an actual robot. For me, the price was simply too high.
“You never said anything about being turned into a robot!”, I protested.
“It’s right there on our website. Are you saying we are liars?” Keith’s eyes blazing with a cold blue light.
“No, no,” I stammered. What to do? I had to think fast. I turned and looked to Mitch and Reynold for some sort of salvation, but they had laid down their lasers and were now engaged in playing some sort of robo-tennis and seemed entirely disinterested in the proceedings. Then, an idea struck me. I had seen enough Futurama. Could I?
“I brought beer!”, I said, and hoisted a 12-pack. The robo-tennis stopped. The blue light faded from Keith’s eyes. All three robots said, “Cool”, in unison and each extruded a bottle-opening appendage from a different location on their bodies. Practice resumed and they agreed to allow me to retain my human form under two conditions. First, I let them replace my mushy organic brain with a shiny new metal positronic one. Second, that I let them upgrade all my internal organs and bodily structure with new indestructible robotanium pieces. These seemed reasonable enough concessions to me. At least they weren’t making me into a robot. Thank god for compromises. Who says robots from the future are unreasonable? You should see my new bottle opener. Very convenient.