The military official who agreed to speak with us did so on the condition of anonymity. We met at an unassuming diner off the highway, one of those nostalgic places where the waitresses call you “hun” and coffee refills are always free. A staticky radio was wheezing out tunes from the kitchen, the kind of cookie-cutter, mass-produced pop music that’s all too common nowadays.

Kids today think they can just pick up a hot pink Stratocaster, peddle homemade demos outside skateparks for a couple months, and all of a sudden you’re shaking hands with Carson Daly and one of the dudes from BBMak. No, a true punk spirit, the kind that propels you to over 50 million albums sold worldwide, that’s something you’re born with.

And finding two other individuals with that same rebellious spirit, well, that’s rarer than an alien abduction.   

“What exactly,” I asked in between bites of a Denver omelette, “happened in Roswell, New Mexico?”  

After all, considering the fantastic comic accident from which all of humankind burst, why is it so difficult to imagine a similar phenomenon occurring elsewhere in the galaxy? Are we so self-obsessed, so enamored of the concept of our species’ singularity, that we refuse to believe there might be intelligent life beyond our stars?

Furthermore, how could your bandmates of 13 rad-as-hell years up and replace you when all you requested was an indefinite break to go hunt aliens for a living? All those platinum albums, the Hot Topic endorsement deals, the iconic music videos in which we bore our souls and genitalia to the entire MTV Generation—did all of that mean nothing?

Or perhaps I, like the church leaders who’ve conspired for centuries to maintain a massive alien cover-up, was a fool for turning my back on what’s truly important in life: the two best friends a rocker-turned-conspiracy-theorist could ask for. I suppose second chances are a lot like UFOs in that my record label believes in neither. 

As the catalog of eyewitness accounts continues to grow, it becomes more and more difficult to discredit them as a whole. In the extreme case of abduction, individuals have provided testimonies with such striking similarities they constitute irrefutable proof that Earth is routinely visited by otherworldly beings. Our government cannot keep turning a deaf ear to these harrowing experiences, just as we mustn't ignore the fan outrage over my so-called “replacement” Matt Skiba.

I mean, Alkaline Trio? Really, Hoppus? What, the guitarist from Simple Plan couldn’t take time off from barbacking at Bonefish Grill? Or perhaps Sum 41 was uncomfortable fracturing its lineup so close to county fair season?

Outer space may present an infinite number of impossible questions, but no question is more confounding than what was going through your head when you gave that sellout keys to the sex Winnebago. To our sex Winnebago.

Despite filing several petitions under the Freedom of Information Act, the Pentagon deemed our requests “legally dubious” and “couched between what appear to be histrionic song lyrics.” If the poignant sincerity of “Miss You” doesn’t convince the military to adopt transparency in its UFO investigations, then maybe it will at least inspire Travis to answer my texts.   

In fact, almost every Western religious text references celestial events of unknown origin that, when viewed through a modern lens, suggest the presence of UFOs.

For example, is the Biblical story of Jacob’s ladder one of divine intervention or extraterrestrial contact? Was an angry, omnipotent God responsible for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, or were the doomed cities leveled by the advanced weaponry of an alien spacecraft?

Regardless of how we choose to wrestle with these questions, it seems to me there’s no more compelling evidence of a higher presence than the unmistakable musical chemistry between three skateboarding-obsessed kids from Southern California. I felt it in every one of Mark’s guitar riffs, Travis’s killer drum solos, each sing-along chorus we penned in the margins of a Playboy swiped from a 7-11. Sometimes it takes years of staring into the sky to see that what you’ve been searching for has been right in front of you, wearing baggy shorts and a novelty trucker hat, the entire time.

God truly is in all the small things.