“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
I was sitting in a third grade classroom and was already forced to decide my whole life. Adults in the room decided that was the proper place to make such important decisions, at a desk covered in gum and hiding the fistful of glue that I’d planned on eating before this task was sprung upon us.
Some students were quick to let their dreams flow. President! Baseball player! Ballerina! One said woodworking teacher because, apparently, he missed the part where it was what you “want” to be and not what you kind of just settle into after your third DUI.
When it finally got to me, I was ready with my answer: AN ASTRONAUT!
Wow. Impressive. “That’s a young man with serious aspirations,” the teacher undoubtedly thought but didn’t think me worthy of vocal praise, “He wants to study sciences and make discoveries and save the world.”
But, I didn’t. I was just dumb. I was a dumb first grader but had already decided I didn’t want to learn things.
You see, I was under the impression that being an astronaut was easy. I wasn’t shooting for the moon and hoping to land amongst the stars, I was deciding to go blue collar. In my little mind, astronauts were the construction workers of space. I figured nerd scientists in white coats handed all the fancy stuff, they calibrated tank levels and figured out the whatever thrust. They did the report writing and science studying.
The astronaut? Me? My job would be to wear a cool suit and hammer things in space. I’d walk around the outside of the ship and say things like “eh, this is a crap shoot. Three week job,” then I’d head back in to watch the game with the boys. We’d crack beers at lunch while we zipped around the galaxy. I’d look out the window and think of everyone who went to college just to join the rat race while here I was, with a third grade education and a midday buzz, getting to see the universe. Catcalling aliens would be the way I pass the time along with getting tattoos and saying “shit” while I told a joke about a penis, like adults did. I'd be praised for my discoveries even thought I was just the drunk guy jumping around on the moon, it was the smart people who did all the work. They didn't have the face or personality for the camera so the spotlight had to go to someone, and why shouldn't it be me?
My parents would be proud, but not too proud. Kind of like they are now with a blogger child. They wouldn’t lay it on too thick so you immediately knew they had higher expectations for their space construction worker son, but instead they’d lightly sigh and say, “He enjoys what he does. He gets along with his co-workers and it pays the bills.” That’s all they ever wanted, after all.
But eventually I learned that’s not at all what an astronaut is. I learned you have to be smart, dedicated, inquisitive, and smart. You had to do white collar stuff like meetings AND blue collar stuff like make repairs. There were no midday buzzes and Sox starting pitching arguments while you dodged asteroid fields, no alien girls to tell to smile more. So I became a blogger.