Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Rocket Man

Last Saturday, I bribed the boys into a trip to Target by promising one reasonably priced toy each.

Elijah was immediately paralyzed by the choices. What thing that I will ultimately say no to should he choose? The strange candy version of French fries? A 70” plasma TV? A gun that is just slightly not a gun and may get past his mother’s no gun stance?

Luca, on the other hand, simply chooses the first thing that enters his field of vision. The kid is an end cap sucker. Hence the piles of un-played-with toys that occupy every corner his bedroom.  Man, that Barbie stapler seemed like a good idea at the time.

While I argued with Eli about the differenced between a $10 limit and a $48 double barrel shotgun, I spotted Luca looking agog. He was standing in front of a real working model rocket.

Luca half-heartedly said, “Can I get that?” Clearly knowing the answer. Who in their right mind would let a 6 year old buy a miniature explosive device? It was a missing thumb HamannEggs blog post waiting to happen.

What Luca did not know at the time was I was really missing my dad at that very moment. And my dad used to shoot rockets off with us on divorce sanctioned Saturdays. They were remarkably like the one Luca was standing in front of.

I had all but written mini rockets off, figuring they were a relic of the 1980’s. Doomed to extinction like pull tab beers and pirated HBO.

I immediately threw it into the cart. “Don’t you want to know how much it costs?” Eli asked, clearly not wanting Luca to have any fun ever.

“I could cost a million billion dollars and I’d still buy it. Shooting off rockets is your birthright!”

Later that afternoon, I gathered the cousins and we all walked in slow motion down to the local middle school to launch our rocket.

There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, seven hundred and fifty miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass. They called it the sound barrier.” – The Right Stuff

I crammed a tiny stick of TNT into the flimsy fuselage plastic body and attached little plastic wires to the bomb. We walked to a safe distance and attached the wires to a little red button.  

We counted down from 10…9…8…7…6…5

Luca hit the button on 5. No sense waiting until zero. With a puff of white smoke and a sound not terribly dissimilar from a bottle rocket, our craft lifted off. It flew up and up and up. And up. And up.

And then went out of sight.

Apparently I bought the “Korean Nuclear Test” version, because I’m fairly sure it left our atmosphere. Or at least flew over The Wine Goddess store.

It did kind of bum out the kids that we might have lost the rocket right after the first flight. Steve suggested we take a stroll east and see if we could locate it. He had a pretty good idea where it may be.

And then we heard sirens.

I’m sure it just a regular Evanston fire. Probably some professor’s bong got knocked over.  But there was a slight chance our rocket crashed through an Audi’s windshield and caused the driver to lose control and smash into the Shell gas station, igniting a fireball that could be seen from space.

We ran home as fast as we could.

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