Did you ever envy a crash-test dummy?
One afternoon, for about 20 seconds, I did.
Then I smacked myself and came back to my senses (which, of course, a crash-test dummy, lacking senses, can’t do).
I flipped on CNN that afternoon expecting another episode in the 24/7/365 Trump Reality Show. I was curious to see if Turtleman and Honey-Boo-Boo might be opening for Stormy Daniels at Mar-a-Lago that weekend. Instead, a giant rocket loomed on the screen and an amplified voice droned; “ten…nine…eight……”
My happy assumption was that I had stumbled onto Turner Classic Movies during a surprise screening of Destination Moon (1950, with John Archer and Warren Anderson). But no-o-o-o. This was another kind of reality show…real reality (imagine that)…heroic reality…not the fake kind.
I instantly became a fourth-grader again, on a morning in May of 1961, listening to the PA speaker in my classroom broadcast Alan Shepard’s 15 minute flight in his Mercury Freedom 7. Our school lunch that day featured Shepherd’s Pie in honor of the feat. It was an impressionable time.
And this day, Elon Musk, an immigrant from South Africa was about to put the US back in first place in the space race.
This day there was no Alan Shepard or any other astronaut on board. Instead, Mr. Musk had loaded his cherry-red Tesla with a crash-test dummy in the front seat. I suspect if you Google “panache” you will find Mr. Musk’s bio there.
Like a spear hurled into the sky, that rocket ripped into space, and that dummy began his billion-year cruise around the sun and Mars. I hope they included a big playlist on the music player.
To be that dummy…
I’m OK now…well, maybe the concussion protocol might in order.
I had forgotten the thrill and inspiration of a US rocket launch and US space exploration.
I don’t want to ever forget it again.
And I still wanna be an astronaut when I grow up.