Saturday, September 18, 2010

Course Overload #21: "Lost in Space"

Does anyone remember Career Day in elementary school? You know, when you’d get dressed up as whatever wacky profession you wanted to be when you grew up, and all the teachers and parents would coo over your general cuteness for three hours, then you’d get to have cookies and juice and take a nap? I remember it being great fun, but then again, we all used to enjoy listening to The New Kids on the Block and watching Alf, so I might be wrong.

"Swing your arms, from side to side..."
Do you remember what you wanted to be? Perhaps a doctor, or a teacher? A race car driver? A ninja? I had a huge variety of occupations lined up for myself, such as a video game play tester, a video game programmer, or a video game character, so it was really hard choosing whether to go dressed as Super Mario or Chun-Li from Street Fighter II. One thing I never considered, however, was becoming an astronaut. Yet, life has a tendency to throw us curve balls. And I have a particular knack for catching them at full speed squarely in my nether regions.

My impromptu career as an astronaut began one fine August day on my drive to school. It was registration day and I hadn’t seen many of my friends in weeks, so I wore my best polyester shirt and gothic cape and set out bright and early. On the trip, I swore to myself that this was going to be a normal semester: no parachuting, screaming ninjas, no booby-trapped trips to the library, and no one stealing my cereal so they have something to pour their vodka over. But as soon as I pulled into the campus, the skies darkened and ominous lighting struck a blazing, fiery path along the sides of the road to direct me to my fate. A heavy rain began to fall, the Internet suddenly stopped working, and everyone stumbled fearfully away from my four wheeled, rolling damnation to protect themselves from my imminent doom. Either that or I was driving on the sidewalk. It’s hard to tell when your back-to-school cape has blown up into your face.

And yet, I was determined to continue. Why should this sudden change in the weather be connected to me, simply because every violent storm, massive explosion and bad movie at the college for the past three years has been? Perhaps the weatherman had predicted an apocalypse that morning while I was in the shower. So I drove on, noticing all the changes that had been made to the campus over the summer. I wondered what other alterations I would come across while approaching the first set of speed bumps.

Those evil, malicious speed bumps.

I’ll admit that I had been going too fast, but that was no reason to be exiled to another solar system. As I hit the first speed mountain, I felt myself being propelled into the air like an underpaid circus clown from a cannon. I sailed high in the sky, my jowls flapping in the wind, screaming and honking my horn. I quickly discovered that my breaks were useless, but I don’t know what I thought they would do; it’s not like I could stop in mid-air because I knew I wouldn’t be able to find a ladder high enough to climb back down to safety.

The people on the ground seemed very impressed with my spontaneous air show – they clapped, cheered and giggled. I know I would have too, because I was surely performing a jump that even Kitt from Knight Rider would be jealous of.

I thought I was safe as my car finally started its dreadful decent to Earth, but to my horror, I saw that I was careening right for the front of the second speed bump. My shrieking began anew as I struck the ground, losing at least 33 percent of my car on impact, and began immediately up the second bump of destruction. I, Matt Frey, after having somehow survived last semester’s outbreak of Whooping SARS, was going to be the first person murdered by a speed bump.

There I was again, being shot into orbit. I could hear the police sirens below me, waiting to give me a ticket if I ever came down for taking orbit in a no space travel zone. “Sirens are so romantic,” I mumbled, starring down at the entire campus. “At least I’ll be able to find a parking spot now,” I added, surveying the packed parking lot.

But that’s when the miracle happened. Somewhere in between Alpha Centauri and Neptune (Did you know that Neptune is a planet?), I caught sight of a blinding light; the most beautiful I had ever seen. I thought that I had somehow flown to God, and I opened my arms up wide to be received by Him. But as I passed though the light, I noticed a conspicuous lack of rainbows and angles playing PlayStations. I hadn’t reached God at all, but I sure was in Heaven: Looking down at my passenger seat, I saw that my laptop’s Internet signal strength read “very low.” My eyes bulged. “Very low!? You mean, I have the Internet again!?” I began hemorrhaging with joy. Yes college students, there is an Internet.

Luckily for me, A few hours later, I stealthily navigated my car (read: plummeted helplessly while screaming for Mommy) into a nearby black hole, avoiding all antimatter and space rubbish all the way through. Surprisingly, I reappeared on campus as if nothing had happened.

I wonder if the college’s administration realizes that their speed bumps were designed by NASA?

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