The Lunar Mission

During a particularly intense session with my psychiatrist, I was recently reminded of the summer I journeyed into outer space. As a child, I was left unattended for long periods of time while my parents busied themselves with running the family business. I had few friends, fewer social skills and an overactive imagination. These factors combined to turn me into a passionate reader. I was particularly fond of science fiction and naturally became enthralled with the space program. I remember spending the summer of ‘65 alone and watching the Gemini space launches on T.V. It was an historic era with each launch heralded as a ground breaking event. Summer was long hot and boring. Possibly as a result of sitting too close to the T.V. for too many hours, I decided to enter the space race as a belated underdog and attempt to beat both the Russians and Americans to the moon. Thus began my efforts to build a space ship that I would come to call Friendship II. I rummaged through my father’s garage for tools and building materials. Unfortunately my father was not mechanically inclined and would only attempt those projects which could be completed, in their entirety, with a hammer and selection of profanity. Pickings were slim. I expanded my search and managed to scavenge building materials from back alleys and empty lots throughout the city. The hull was constructed from scrap wood. The electrical system came from a series of discarded appliances. The instrument panel was the dash board of an abandoned ‘59 Pontiac. The project consumed my every waking hour. As the pounding, welding and scavenging continued, the spacecraft slowly began to take shape in the backyard. It was an incredible reproduction of a Saturn series rocket. The large booster rockets (formerly hot water heaters) and air foils gave the contraption a futuristic, art deco look. A dry cell battery powered the flashing warning lights on the nose cone. Finally the big day arrived. The ship was ready for blast off. The sky was clear and the weather was fine. I waited until the neighbourhood adult population completed its daily exodus to their workplaces and cottages. Wearing a mechanic’s uniform and a fish bowl over my head, I waved good bye to my imaginary well wishers who assembled in my backyard and the teeming millions watching the historic flight on T.V. I entered the cramped capsule. Tension ran high as mission control counted down. T minus 10 .. 9 .. 8 .. 7 .. 6 .. 5 .. 4 .. 3 .. 2 .. 1 .. Nothing. Lift off was aborted as I disembarked to survey the situation. Inspecting the spacecraft, I realized that I had neglected to gas up for the trip. I headed towards a neighbour’s car to siphon off some rocket fuel. I poured the fuel into Friendship II. Lacking an ignition system, I improvised by soaking an old rag in some gas and sticking it into the fuel tank. I lit the exposed end and hurried back to the capsule to resume countdown. T minus 10 .. 9 .. 8 .. 7 .. kabooooooo

ooo

m!

The rocket ship exploded is a ball of flames. When the smoked cleared, all that was left of Friendship II was a burnt-out hulk and a three-foot crater in our backyard. Concerned passerby’s rushed me to the burn unit of the Hospital for Sick Children. I suffered second degree burns over two thirds of my body and was placed in isolation due to the risk of infection. I spent the rest of the summer watching T.V. from inside an oxygen tent which I had christened Moonbase I.