(This Dave Barry column was originally published Sunday, December 1, 1985.)
Dear National Aeronautics and Space Administration:
I read in the paper the other day that you're looking for a journalist to send up into space, now that you've launched members of every other major minority group, and I just thought I'd drop you a note to let you know that I'm your boy.
As I understand it, you want somebody who can communicate to the general taxpaying public what a swell idea the space program is, because your regular astronauts tend to describe the wonders of space, no matter how profoundly moving they are, as "real good." If they were to suddenly encounter a host of angels up there, suffused with the brilliant, multicolored, ever-changing light of a thousand simultaneous sunsets and singing a song of such sweet sadness that the entire universe seemed to sway, your current astronauts would look at it and say, "Houston, we got real good angels here."
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You would not have this problem with me up there. No sir. I would train for the mission by working with a thesaurus underwater so as to be sure I could be articulate in a weightless environment. And just in case I got sick during the actual mission, I would carry little emergency cards with articulate quotations printed on them, so one of the other astronauts could take over for me:
HOUSTON COMMAND CENTER: Dave, as a journalist, do you have any remarks for the taxpaying public about how beautiful it is up there, or anything?
ME: Roger, Houston. When I look around me at these vast velvet voids, I feel a sense of barrrugggaaahhhhhh.
HOUSTON: A sense of what?
ANOTHER ASTRONAUT (reading off of a little printed card): Houston, what Dave here was trying to say was that when he looks around him at these vast voids of velvet we got up here, he feels, quote, a sense of almost unearthly celery, unquote.
HOUSTON: Almost unearthly celery?
ASTRONAUT: No, hold it, that's "serenity." Sorry about that, Houston. We got reduced visibility up here right now on account of Dave blew his lunch real good all over the cabin.
Another reason to choose me as the First Journalist in Space is that I have an excellent idea for adding some zip to those TV broadcasts from aboard the Space Shuttle, which have been, let's face it, about as exciting as French-kissing a plumber's helper. They mainly consist of the old Floating Clipboard Trick, in which a bunch of astronauts with nicknames like "Scottso" and "Doke" gather in front of the camera and demonstrate that when they let go of a clipboard up in space, it continues to float there, which would be extremely fascinating to us taxpayers except that we have been watching this trick for maybe 20 years now. Nevertheless, Scottso and Doke just keep on doing it and grinning like cocker spaniels on a hot day, as if it were powerful entertainment. So what we need is some new space programming, and I have just the concept: "Space Shuttle Bloopers and Practical Jokes":
ED MCMAHON: Scottso is supposed to go out into space and perform a very difficult repair on a broken satellite, but what he doesn't know is that we have spiked his air supply with nitrous oxide, the "laughing gas" you get at your dentist's office!
DICK CLARK: So Scottso will literally be "spaced out, " ha ha! Let's listen in as Houston tries to talk to him.
HOUSTON: Scottso, have you removed the access panel yet?
SCOTTSO (singing): My boyfriend's back, and there's gonna be trouble . . .
DICK CLARK: Ha ha! Scottso appears to be singing My Boyfriend's Back, a 1963 hit recording by the Angels!
ED MCMAHON: Also, he's taking off his helmet.
HOUSTON: Scottso, we think maybe you should . . .
SCOTTSO (singing): Hey la, hey la, my boyfriend's baAAAAACCCK
ED MCMAHON: Don't you kids try that at home.
Another thing. As the First Journalist in Space, I'd try to answer the questions that ordinary people have about the space program, like: How do you go to the bathroom in space? I mean, wouldn't everything just sort of float around, if you get my drift? So do they use some kind of suction device? If so, could it be adapted for use here on Earth, specifically by my 5-year- old son? Because although like most middle-class families, we have gravity in our bathroom, it doesn't seem to be enough for my son, aim-wise. He is batting around .250, in terms of how much of his output actually winds up in the commode. I think this is an area where the space program could really benefit us taxpayers.
Another common taxpayer question is: what about sex in space?
HIM: How was it, for you?
HER: Real good.
So there you have my qualifications for being orbited. The only potential problem I see is that when you conduct your routine security investigation into my background, you're probably going to encounter certain slanderous rumors regarding an incident in 1963 when I was a counselor at Camp Sharparoon and somebody snuck over to the barn belonging to the rival camp, Green Acres, and painted their horse red. Let me just say in my defense that (a) there was never any concrete proof connecting me in any way with this repulsive heartless cruel deed, and (b) I had no idea the horse would get that upset.
Also, I know absolutely nothing about how Jeffrey Burbank's mother's Renault got in that lake.
Well, that about covers it. Give me a ring when you want me to start. In terms of uniforms, I take a 39 regular.
Dave "Bucko" Barry
(c) 1985, Dave Barry
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