Lileks: Just how bad do you want to get away?

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 4, 2014 - 3:35 PM

You think you’re fed up with the cold earlier than usual? Four Minnesotans are among the semifinalists for a one-way Mars trip in 2024.

The journey is the idea of a Netherlands organization, which hopes to raise the money by advertising. (Red Bull! The official Energy Drink of sitting in a tent looking at rocks for 30 years.) There was a $35 filing fee, which winnowed out the nonserious applicants.

If getting into a tin can with strangers on a one-way trip to another planet sounds good, that’s because you are 19 and went home for Christmas. Or you want to be remembered as part of a great exploration, the way we all remember the names of Columbus’ crew. OK, bad example. The sixth guy on the moon. OK, bad example.

This can’t end well. What if you’re sitting on Mars and suddenly think, “Did I leave the iron on?” You can’t call NASA for a ride home.

It would be horrible to be 87 years old, the last survivor, almost insane after 32 years alone, and see a rocket touch down and disgorge 40 octogenarians from Maple Grove who are taking a sightseeing tour.

“Oh, they invented a rocket that cuts the trip to a week. People have been visiting New Branson by the equator for years. Our driver got lost, that’s why we’re here. How are things? The Vikings? Oh, 17 consecutive Super Bowls. Are you camping? We did the Moon last year, but it’s so crowded.”

Of course, there’s the idea that you made history. Your descendants can look to the skies and see where you went. There — that small dot, that’s where grandpap is. Brave man, a true explorer — hold on, that’s a plane. Well, he’s up there, somewhere.

Don’t get me wrong: I think we should go to Mars, but as part of a back-and-forth deal where the astronauts come home and get ticker-tape parades. Otherwise, just cut to the chase and send up some skeletons.

But it’s understandable that you might want to get out of town. So, for 20 bucks, I’ll come over and put red-filmed plastic over your backdoor window. You can pretend it’s Mars. And in a few weeks it will be Valentine’s Day, and everyone will think it’s romantic. Actually, it’s a sign I want to leave the planet. Oh, you kidder!

What will you do in March when the weather’s worse? I don’t know. Does Sun Country go to Mercury?

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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