It’s 7:05 in the a.m. and I’m stuck at a red light. The woman in front of me is putting on makeup, the fella tailgating me is eating a bowl of cereal, and the guy to my right is brushing his teeth. Right away I decide to volunteer this sorry lot for the 501-day Mars mission that’s set to take off on January 5, 2018.
“These guys deserve to spend a year and a half of their lives in a space no larger than a toilet,” I rant to my youngest.
“I thought they were looking for old people, like you and Dad,” he reminds me. “You guys are not thinking of volunteering are you?”
“Sweetie, we like our space. In any relationship, space is not just the final frontier, it’s the only frontier. Your Dad and I are soul mates and all, but it only works because we have three storeys and a yard to wander around in and avoid each other if necessary. Close proximity for such an extended period isn’t healthy for relationships.”
Besides, I get dizzy just taking the roundabout; I wouldn’t be much use flying upside down at high speeds.
Sharing a couch, driving someplace together is wonderful because we get to take bathroom breaks, get some coffee, chat on the phone, stretch our legs, play with Zephyr, see a movie, that sort of thing, I explain to him. Out there in space, there are no breaks, just an endless sort of existence.
The billionaire Dennis Tito must not like middle-aged people, he concludes. Why else would he do something this twisted? You know, take two people who get along and put them in a situation where they’d likely maim each other or worse, before the first week was out.
The kid had hit the nail on its head. Instead of finding happy, married couples, Tito ought to be recruiting embattled couples. You know, the kind who frequently tells each other, “The day I willingly spend an entire day with you is the day I will willingly drink my own piss.” Guess what? Chances are they’ll have to. If that doesn’t draw them closer, nothing will.
It’s while we’re musing the oddities of the billionaire brain that the guy eating cereal decides on a second bowl – with milk – while he drifts into my lane. As I slam on my brakes to avoid a collision with Mr. Honey Bunches, George R.R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings, Book Two in the series, jabs me in the ribs. Forget sending sweet, devoted couples on this mission, it seemed to say, “I’ll go, send me! Please?”
Such an interesting notion.
“The mission may not end in guts and gore if Tito chose someone who had something useful to do,” I tell the kiddo. “Say like finish a book series that’s taken him thirty years to complete.”
“You’re still mad at that guy aren’t you?” He gestures at the book that’s currently on its third read-around.
It’s true; I read the first five books in the series in three weeks flat. While I waited for Martin to complete the last book – to tie up a thousand loose ends, notch up a few hundred story lines, and sub plots – I took another six months to painstakingly re-read every one of those books. Honestly, I worry Martin that will just drop dead one of these days without leaving behind a workable manuscript for the final book in the series.
I need closure
“He has no business starting a series he can’t finish,” I fume.
It’s like ordering a cup of Joe at Starbucks and coming away feeling cheated, over frothed, uncaffeinated and thoroughly unsatisfied. The man clearly has writer’s block. He should go on the Mars mission. Alone. He won’t want for company. He’ll have at least a few hundred of his characters to shoot the breeze with. Best of all, if the isolation and potty-sized living quarters get to him, he could knock off a hundred or so of his characters. I bet he could finish that last book then. In the words of Robert Baratheon, First of his Name, “killing things (just might) clear (his) head.”