Growing up, my father consistently relied on the same threat when he found fault with behavior or actions that displeased him.
Fists balled and facial muscles contorted, he would vigorously shake a finger in my direction and scream, "You're looking at a one-way ticket to the moon, buster!" tossing in a few muttered obscenities for good measure.
Knowing that my dad did not have the financial resources or scientific acumen to "launch" his threat, so to speak, I half-heartedly vowed to be a better son, at least until he exited my bedroom.
Ah, the adversity of rearing kids in the 1970s. Today, children who don't obey their parents may be just a paltry credit card payment away from living out their remaining days in space, thanks to the Mars One project.
Since April, Mars One, a Dutch-based organization, has been accepting applications for transportation to the Red Planet. More than 100,000 would-be astronauts worldwide have already applied, even though, much like Wilford Brimley and his geriatric cohorts from Cocoon, they will never return. Mars One does not provide round trip transportation.
True, my 16-year-old daughter doesn't currently meet the age requirement -- candidates must be 18 -- but she will be eligible when the expedition begins in 2022. And the $38 application fee? I can't find those kinds of bargains on eBay. Which is why I am furiously racing to meet the August 31 deadline by filling out the questionnaire and scripting the one-minute video that will accompany her entry, for once I perused the Mars One website and read the ideal astronaut characteristics, I knew she would be the perfect choice.
For example, she is adept at extending her boundaries, a trait she attempts to master every weekend when her mother and I set curfew.
Mars One seeks "curious" individuals. No problem there. Why, just the other day, I caught her looking under her bed for what was either an alternate life form, her iPod touch or both.
She is excellent at "transferring knowledge to others." I have the cellphone bills to prove it.
She understands that "the purpose of actions may not be clear in the moment." How else to explain her doe-eyed, some might say catatonic, stare when quizzed on the current state of her homework, the laundry or the pile of dishes in the sink?
Now she just has to dazzle Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp and the selection committee with her video. Yes, she is somewhat camera shy but will do just fine reading the cue cards I have eagerly prepared:
"I would make an awesome Mars One astronaut because, as my dad frequently mentions, I already know EVERYTHING about living on my current planet. If I see anything gross up there, no worries. My friend Crystal just got her fifth piercing, and I didn't even freak when she showed me.
"For those remaining on Earth, I will happily send back lots of videos and photos courtesy of Vine and Instagram. Sure, most of the pics will get photobombed by the other cool astronauts who accompany me, but you should still be able to see a little bit of Mars in the background.
"Cellphones do work on Mars, right?
"Finally, the best part about living up there is that I won't need money to do anything. Do you have any idea what I had to pay to see Imagine Dragons last weekend? Maybe I should have taken my parent's advice and gotten a job this summer. I was going to, but then some friends wanted to hang out at the beach, and, well, you know how that goes.
"If I'm selected, please let me know what time to arrive at the launch pad. And please don't leave without me when I have to run back home and retrieve a forgotten item. I never go anywhere without my Starbucks card. Later."
I'm going to miss my little girl. But at least I'll finally get my car back.
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