“OK, you’ve been wanting to know what to do for vacation,” I said as I waltzed into the room and interrupted the lady of the house (on purpose) as she was intently watching “Dancing With The Stars” on TV. “I have an idea.”
“Let’s go to Myrtle Beach,” she said, annoyed, her eyes remaining fixated on two half-dressed dancers on the big-screen.
“Can’t we go to somewhere besides Myrtle Beach, just once? No, this is better than Myrtle Beach.”
“What is it?” she asked.
“It’s great. It’s an all-expense-paid trip.”
“You didn’t,” she dared, “let one of those weird guys on the phone sign us up for one of those vacations in a mosquito nest in Florida that requires only a short sales presentation with no obligation?”
“No, not again.”
“This is legit,” I continued. “They’re looking for a special couple to take a trip. And get this. The couple must be beyond child-bearing years.”
That broke the spell cast by the dancers on TV. “What!?” she said with a pained expression.
“They want a couple to take a little flight. It’s an experimental thing, and if we like it they hope to sign others up.”
“Where’s it to?” she asked.
Now things started getting sticky. I evaded. “Well, they want us to fly to the Red Planet and tell them how we like it.”
“Where’s that?” she asked as some interest sprouted. “Some new resort in Arizona?”
Now came the moment of truth.
I had just read a news report of an announcement, made a couple of weeks ago, by something called the Inspiration Mars Foundation to send a couple, yet to be chosen, to the planet in 2018.
The lady and I would be perfect. I’ve written on this page a couple of times of her advanced age. She’s way beyond child-bearing.
They want an older couple like us because of fears of space radiation causing infertility. I’ve read of warnings to stay away from microwaves at waist level. I guess the principle is the same in outer space.
Also, she’s been getting restless after a long winter and been talking about wanting to get away. I think Mars would be far enough away.
And we like to watch “Star Trek” reruns on TV on Saturday nights. So what more could they want? So I take a breath and run with it.
“No. They want a couple to fly to Mars. Whaddayasay?”
She searches for just the right words to say at this tender moment.
“Some people would be a little too eager to shoot me into outer space,” she said as she turned back to the TV dancers. “Where’s Maks? I love Maks. I want to see Maks!”
I didn’t care to learn what was a Maks, so I turned back to the story about the first trip by humans to Mars.
OK, I embellished the dialogue between us. But the rest of this is true.
As a kid I went to the old Reeves Theater here in the hometown to see a movie, “Robinson Crusoe On Mars.” The movie was a little different from the classic novel of similar name.
The movie told of the first man on Mars who got stranded and roamed the planet just a whisker from all kinds of dangers.
Then when the hero was almost at his end he found water in a cave that saved his life, and then they came and picked him up in a rocket ship.
After reading about the foundation’s plan to send an older couple to Mars, it struck me that the first trip there looks like it’s going to be more like “On Golden Pond” than “Robinson Crusoe On Mars.”
The plans call for the couple to spend 501 days in a space capsule exploring the final frontier and learning new ways to get on each other’s nerves.
They’ll orbit Mars, complain about how disappointed they are and head back home. Much like a trip to Myrtle Beach.
As for the lady and me, after nearly 20 years together a mere year and change together in a spaceship should be a cinch.
I was searching for how to apply when I came across this little tidbit. Taber MacCallum and Jane Poynter, the husband-and-wife founders of a space-equipment company, are space scientists, eminently qualified, past child-bearing age and itching to go.
“Oooo! - gives me chills just thinking about it,” Poynter told CNN. They’re helping plan the trip.
Gee, I wonder who’s going to get chosen to go?
Oh, well. I wonder if Ripley’s Museum at Peaches Corner has anything in it about Mars? Looks like that’s as close as we’ll get.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.