For America, this was the pinnacle of our achievements:
This story started as a joke between my husband and I. I've added a conversation to the beginning to give it a bit of context, but otherwise, it's the original story I wrote years ago based on a late-night joke. I don't want to say more because that would just ruin the joke.
Oh, we went to the moon, alright.
“That’s so stupid,” my grandson said.
It took me a minute to decide if I really wanted to talk to the kid, but I figured what could it hurt? “What’s stupid?”
“NASA. We didn’t go to the moon.”
“You shut your goddamned mouth,” I said. My legs started shaking, and I had to step away before I slapped some smarts into that numskull.
“Oooh, Granddad said a bad word,” whispered my six-year old granddaughter.
“The moon landing was totally faked by the CIA to get funding to keep their secret lizard people project running into the nineties.”
My grandson is fourteen years old, and I can now say I have never met a dumber child in my life. I shook my head and said, “You think we didn’t go to the moon?”
“I know we didn’t.”
“Well, you sit down and listen to what those of us who were actually there know happened. “
“You’re a victim of the government propaganda machine, Granddad,” he said while rolling his eyes.
“And you’re a victim of head-so-far-up-your-ass-syndrome you think your shit is art. Now shut up and listen.
“It was a tumultuous time. The space race had heated up, and with those damned Commies getting the first man in space, the Moon was the ultimate prize. We didn’t know what would be out there, but we knew we had to be there first. America was counting on us. Kennedy had promised the Moon by the end of the decade, and by God, we were gonna get there.
“The three were chosen to go into space. The best and brightest of our “space academy,” Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and the other guy. I don’t remember his name now. Use the Google. I’m old. Anyway, he didn’t actually go out on the moon. Where was I? Oh yes, the space race. We chose the three best and brightest for the Apollo 11 mission. Months of training and testing and pushing their bodies and minds to the breaking limits.
“When the shuttle left the ground, no one breathed for the next 75 hours. Would they make it to the moon? Would we finally put those damned Commies in their place? Capitalism and Freedom had to win out. There was no other option. We either beat the Ruskies to the Moon and planted our flag, or we bowed to the Great Red Oppression.
“Three days, three hours, and 49 minutes after leaving Kennedy Space Center, we got a signal. They had landed. The next morning, Neil would step onto the surface of the Moon, and we would laugh in those dirty Reds’ faces.
“The moment all of America was waiting for came in a slow exhalation of a collective sigh of relief. They had made it to the Moon, and they were alive. Now, an American, the prime example of manhood, virility, and strength, was about to open the shuttle door and plant his foot on the Moon. They opened the hatch, and Neil stepped out.
“That’s one small step for a man. Oh shit. A bear.”
“That’s all we heard. We had to send another shuttle up to find out what happened. Once we got the footage back, we saw what no one could believe. We sent them all the way to the Moon. And they got mauled by a damned bear.