mood Space Trip

by Daryl Lease

Published in Issue No. 16 ~ September, 1998

If you receive an envelope in the mail containing six to 10 strands of my hair, please do not be alarmed.

It’s just me practicing for my trip to another galaxy.

Yes, I know that sounds a bit odd, but once I explain my travel plans to you, I am confident you will rush to your bathroom mirror, pluck six to 10 hairs from your head and exclaim, “I wanna go, too!”

Here’s how:

A company in California called Encounter 2001 recently announced it will launch a rocket into outer space three years from now. If all goes well, company officials say, the spacecraft will eventually end up in another solar system. For a mere $49.95, plus $9.95 shipping and handling, we can all be a part of the trip. Organizers say the fee will entitle us to say howdy, in a high-tech way, to the folks who live in the galaxy next door.

The company plans to prepare a compact disc containing messages from up to 4.5 million Earthlings. You can send a voice recording, drawings, musical scores or pretty much anything you want. (I plan to submit a recording of myself flapping my lips with my index finger. Blib-blib-blib-blib. Please do not steal my idea.)

In addition to your special message, you can also send along a sample of your DNA. According to Encounter 2001, all you have to do is send six to 10 strands of hair. The hair will be “processed, stored and prepared” to become part of the spacecraft’s payload, according to the company’s Web site.

So far, 4,000 people have signed up for this journey. Among them is 43-year-old Jason Klass, who intends to send songs from a musical he co-wrote with his girlfriend. He has big plans for his DNA, too.

“We can’t have children,” he recently told Reuters new services, “and in a deep philosophical way, this may be one way for my genetic makeup to live on, with a minute chance that it may be recovered by another species and we might be re-created. And I could fall in love with my girlfriend all over again on another planet.”

That’s very sweet, but I think voyagers should be aware that some planets may not be lovey-dovey toward humans. In fact, there’s probably a good chance that Jason II and his cloned girlfriend could wind up being Earthling pets on a distant suburb of Venus. (Now, there’s a musical for you: When our star-crossed lovers meet again, they find themselves separated by a chain-link fence. Their owners – 10-foot tall, six-armed, 19-legged neighbors named Ooblat and Nitbloo – remain unaware of the couple’s longing to be reunited. The curtain rises)

Despite uncertainty about where my DNA might end up, I would love to be part of Encounter 2001’s voyage. For years, I have told loved ones that when I die, I want my ashes put in an envelope and mailed around the world in a chain letter. I figure I can do some posthumous traveling, plus have a little fun. I envision the text of the chain letter saying something like this: “Do not break the chain, or you’ll experience really, really bad luck. Just ask Wally Walloola of Dale City, Va. He ignored this letter and the very next day LOST HIS REMOTE CONTROL AND HAD TO START GETTING UP TO CHANGE THE CHANNEL.”

Encounter 2001’s intergalactic chain letter is far superior to what I had in mind. And this way, the only sting I will feel is when I pluck my six to 10 hairs.

I’m not sure what folks in the next galaxy will make of our package if it lands on their doorstep, though. I’m betting their first reaction will be something along the lines of: “Eeuuuw! What the blazes is this? Why, it’s … it’s matted Earthling hair! Oooh, and it’s wet! Yuuuck!

My personal hope is that the life forms who find the Encounter 2001 spacecraft will take all 27 million strands of hair, assemble them into a fright wig, load it onto a rocket and send it back to some future generation of Earthlings.

I don’t know about you, but I’d pay 60 bucks to be a part of that.

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Daryl Lease is a columnist for The Free Lance-Star newspaper in Fredericksburg, Virginia.