The Perks of Being a Space Cadet


When I was a kid, I used to drive my grandmother crazy playing what she liked to call the What-If Game. Basically, I’d sit by her side proposing various scenarios until she’d had enough and sent me off to play with a friend, sibling, or toy.

To say this was my favorite game in the entire world is an understatement. I loved making things up, imagining what could happen “if.”

What if Tom caught Jerry?

What if my Barbie doll could move all by herself?

What if that tree in the backyard fell over and crashed into the house and the roof fell down and we were all stuck there, pinned to the floor, for a week?

My grandmother was good for a couple scenarios but her answers were never as outlandish as my questions. What if my brother ate all the cookies in the entire store? Well, he’d make himself sick, she’d tell me. What if I grew to ten feet tall overnight? She’d get me to clean the ceiling.

Faced with such reasonable answers, I’d try to prompt her for more. “Yeah, but what if I was one hundred feet tall?” “What if he ate all the cookies in the whole world?”

This was about the time she tried to distract me. Looking back, I can see how exhausting this probably was for her. Had it been up to me, I never would have stopped. Actually, I never have.

Wherever I go, whatever I see, inspires its own set of questions. I go through life with my eyes wide open, and my mind on something else. I’m sure a physician could produce some unflattering diagnosis to explain this, but then, of course, he’d want to treat it…and we can’t have that.

As is the case with most people, the bulk of my day is spent in monotony. I get up, make breakfast, clean up after breakfast, get the kids to school, get myself to work, and repeat the same schedule of tasks there that I’ve been doing for ten years. Afterwards, there might be shopping to do, or errands to run. I might have to write out some checks, and send out some bills. Of course, there will be more cooking and cleaning.

For the most part, I daydream through the bulk of it. I’m not overly annoyed that I’ve stood in line at the store for half an hour because, in that time, I’ve made a romantic connection between two figments of my imagination. The commute to work gave me a chance to figure out how my character was going to escape her enemy, and working on our budget inspired me to begin working on a draft for a story I’d been putting off.

Are there drawbacks? Well, yes. I’m the person you honk/swear at/flip off because they haven’t noticed that the light turned green. But aside from annoying others and occasionally looking like a complete idiot, the positives outweigh the negatives. To tune in and focus on menial chores one hundred percent of the time would be exhausting. It sort of makes me understand why so many people are constantly in a bad mood.

That, or aliens from the planet Sha’lah-uhn-nhu have contaminated the water supply (I only drink fancy bottled water) with a mind-control serum to incite a world war that will eventually lead to a destruction of all humanity and enable them to…

Okay. I’ll stop.

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