Rocket (Wo) Man

Editor’s note: As part of Coma News’ community outreach, the following blog excerpt is one of a selection of local online postings we will re-publish by residents and business owners.

By Sadie Cracker

In 1986, I was in Mrs. Keelings third grade classroom at Coma Elementary, when Christa McAuliffe became the first teacher to
launch into space.


I remember the lift off and how excited we were that there was the  possibility that we could be anything.
And across from me was a kid who would one day be my husband, Michael, and he said, “She’s no rocket man.”

But there she was, soaring beyond our atmosphere. A rocket propelling her toward space. She was just a teacher. Nothing really special about her she just had a dream that there was more beyond this planet and everything that tethers us here to the ground.

And then something went terribly wrong. Right in front of us, the rocket blew apart into so many pieces.

My teacher started crying and quickly turned the TV off. I knew it was bad but I didn’t really understand.

Now, I tuck in my son Mark as he holds a replica of the space shuttle.

“I’m gonna be a rocket guy, Mommy,” he says.

‘Mars ain’t the kinda place to raise your kids’

And now I know the risks. Whether he goes to the stars or stays right here and rockets through his life, I know the risks. Just like Christa McAuliffe knew ride there’s no certainty to this life. So many things beyond our control. I tuck him and his brother in for my one night out. My one night each week to relax and feel human.

At Bear’s Biker Bar my father Stan argues with Bear about the space program.

“There’s no more Buzz Aldrins,” said Dad. “No more explorers.”

“They are just privatizing it, dummy,” Bear said. “They’ll go farther. Nothing to hold them back.”

I would be afraid to go to outer space. I’m afraid to get on a plane or do anything where I’m not in control. What if the boys lose me? After they’ve already lost their Dad, what would they do?

The door opens and Charlie the librarian walks in. He’s got a keyboard. It’s Elton John-Bingo Night at Bear’s Biker Bar. Charlie can’t play the keyboard but he knows I can.


Is it a loss if you were trying to reach the stars?

Charlie taps the mike and welcomes everyone. There are eight people in mission control tonight.

The new reporter at Coma News walks in. His name is Jonny. Everyone knows about him. It’s a small town.

My Dad looks up from his argument about the stars and puts out his hand.

“Hey Buddy.” He says not remembering he’s already met the guy.

“Hey Stan.” says Jonny.

Dad points to me.

“I’m-”  I say.

“She’s single.” says Dad.

Embarrassed I shake my head.

Charlie announces the first song, “Rocketman,” and then introduces me on keyboard, even though I haven’t agreed to play tonight. Bear starts to clap. “You mean rocket woman” he shouts.

“Sadie isn’t an astronaut,” Dad says to Jonny. “She’s afraid of heights and everything else.”

I gulp down my beer and go to the keyboard.

“She hates to fly,” Dad says. “She’s single.”

I nod at him and launch into “Rockeman” with Charlie.

And I think it’s gonna be a long, long time
‘Til touchdown brings me ’round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home
Oh, no, no, no
I’m a rocket man
Rocket man
Burnin’ out his fuse up here alone

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