Where No Kid Has Gone Before
Aug 3, 2018
Neil Armstrong has nothing over me. At the age of 10, I captained a spaceship that flew to each and every planet in our solar system, discovered and often conquered alien civilizations, killed monsters and, with the cool confidence that only comes with expert flying skills, navigated the unpredictable hazards of the asteroid belt. Neil Armstrong only went to the moon.
Across from the street from the three bedroom apartment, shared by the seven members of our family, lay an expansive park with multiple swing sets, slides (the huge, dangerous ones where some unfortunate kids broke their backs every year), gymnastics rings, a high bar, trapeze bars, merry-go-round (a push one), sand boxes, basketball courts, a kiddie pool and a big public swimming pool. Taking up a half a city block it seemed as big as the universe in itself. In corner of that huge expanse of play space our rocket ship awaited its crew.
The picture of the monkey bars above is an exact replica of our ship. Fully manned it held a crew of five, but any one of us could pilot it just fine alone. We almost always started with five. First, the captain and pilot were the same person because we couldn't imagine a captain not wanting to drive. The most coveted battle station was the gunner, especially when one of our crew brought over their toy WWII era 30 cal. Machine gun that was, thanks to our scientist, specially modified to fire in a vacuum. The most important crew member was the navigator who's main job was to decide the next enemy, monster or obstacle we would next encounter. The already mentioned scientist not only modified our weapons but also discovered the Achilles heel of each of the monsters we would eventually kill. Lastly, in the tradition of the 1950's science fiction movies we had a girl on board whose role was actually to be the girl.
Only our girl was never the kind that fainted or screamed when a monster looked into the porthole. The girls who traveled with us could hold their own in any fight, if not beat any one of us boys to a pulp, even the gunner with his cool weapon. Our parent's called them tomboys but we admired them because they were, like us, made of bones and nails and puppy dog tails. No offence to the girl in the picture, but our female crew dressed in shorts, jeans or overalls, their elbows and knees covered with scratches, bruises and scabs, the same as us boys.
We conquered all until our mission was ended by the biggest monster of all. She was heard first, creaming at the top of her lungs, "Supper's ready!" We could never slay that breast. Usually, the mission carried on, minus one crew member who was eaten by the screaming alien, with the next in line taking over command.
Neil Armstrong, eat your heart out.