Thursday, July 25, 2019

One small step for man

I was seven years old when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to walk on the moon. A lot of people remember that day as if it were yesterday. I wish I could. Sometimes I have problems remembering what I was doing yesterday as if it were yesterday.

Like kids these days who can’t recall a time without the Internet or cell phones without unlimited data, I grew up during the golden age of space exploration and don’t recall a time when man wasn’t trying to throw himself off this little planet just to have fun doing backflips in zero gravity.

Armstrong and Aldrin, Michael Collins, John Glenn, Jim Lovell, and Alan Shepard – these were our heroes. Men who blasted off in rockets and floated back in capsules; who walked, drove and even played golf on the moon; and who paved the way for future astronauts to “slip the surly bonds of Earth.”

Yes, I know that former President John F. Kennedy really didn’t care all that much about space – that beating the Soviet Union to the moon was his sole reason for inspiring us to go – but we did it. We made it there and even came back. And there should be no doubt those initial forays into outer space inspired a whole generation of young students to make a career out of science, technology and math.

All of that was on my mind the other day when I opened the cabinet doors below my kitchen sink and spied a tiny mouse peeking through a tiny hole in the wall.

I motioned to my wife to come and take a look. She was reticent at first, but after the little rodent poked its little pink nose through the hole again – probably testing the waters to see if they were safe – she declared, “Ah, he’s so cute.”

“No, he’s not cute,” I declared right back at her. “It’s a mouse. And where are the cats?”

We looked over to the dining room area and both cats were lying near each other on the floor. Under the table. Sound asleep.

“You just can’t get good cats these days, can you?” I said.

Of course, none of this – the intruding mouse or “we’re on vacation” cats – would have ever been an issue if we’d all been living on the moon, in little Moon Base Alpha subdivisions, like we were supposed to.

C’mon, NASA. We made it to the Moon. We dug up some rocks (obviously a ground-breaking ceremony) and rode around in a vehicle with the top down (the beginnings of a moon interstate?). The next obvious step was to build condos, a Buc-ee’s and an amusement park just around the next crater (Hey! I’m going to Disney-Moon).

There would be no need for cats up there because any rat that made it to the moon would obviously be running around in a cage for scientific purposes. There’d be no need for cats, dogs, pot-bellied pigs, cockatoos or pet pythons. And if we felt lonely for pet companionship, we could just step outside, pick up a moon rock, and paint a smiley face on it. Pet rocks don’t shed in the summer.

But no. Fifty years after humans took their “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” we are no closer to living the life of Riley up there on the Moon today than we were back then.

Which is the sole reason many of us are stuck down here trying to figure out how to get rid of little mice running around under our sinks.

What a lazy cat!

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