The Armchair Astronaut Packs for Mars

This post is adapted from my manuscript, The Stained-Glass Kaleidoscope: Essays at Play in the Churchyard of the Mind, currently searching for a publisher.

In my mind, I can still hear the girls on the playground at recess chanting, “Girls go to Mars to get more candy bars, and boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider.”

As a third grader, I was insulted. As an adult, it occurs to me that the girls who spoke them were immune to irony. Their use of the phrase “more stupider” was evidence that these playground provocateurs had probably journeyed to Jupiter on more than one occasion themselves.

If my dad ever heard the same words at recess, they were powerless to prevent him from staring at the punishing planet through the eyepiece of his telescope. Dad has always been an armchair astronaut. [Read more…]