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Dignity's gone, so let's get PAID!

Retain our dignity?

Sorry, earthlings, but that ship is already skyrocketing into the stratosphere.

NASA is fixing to put ads on the sides of its rocket ships - yep, like NASCAR - as a way to defray costs and possibly make money.

Traditionalists, of course, are bemoaning the idea unto the heavens.

They claim, among other things, that it would detract from the dignity of the country and of the space program.

Lighten up, Francis.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a Washington Post story that the space agency might be able to "boost its brand" by selling naming rights to rockets and spacecraft and allowing its astronauts to appear in commercials and on cereal boxes, as if they were celebrity athletes.

Any products they endorsed would have to be better than Tang, the sandy substance of an otherworldly hue that we as kids consumed by the gallons because they said astronauts drank it.

No wonder they couldn't wait to get back to earth. The tepid concoction tasted, at best, like someone had tried to stretch a pint of orange juice into a quart by adding too much water.

Allowing astronauts to profit from their celebrity and training as athletes do is a terrific idea, since being an astronaut or an athlete is the first career choice for many children. Pitching products - a cell phone carrier that won't drop calls even from a galaxy far, far away would be a natural - is the next, logical frontier.

Can you imagine how much moon dinero Neil Armstrong could've commanded had he, upon alighting from Apollo 11 and without clearing it with NASA, acted as a pitchman for a product instead of for humanity?

"This is one small step for man, one giant leap for - WOW! Are these Dr. Scholl's custom fit orthotic inserts comfortable! Why, it's like being weightless."

What were they going to do if he had - leave him up there?

Imagine, also, an ad opening up with Elton John singing Rocket Man:

♫"She packed my bags last night, pre-flight -♫

"And slipped in two slices of Golden Corral's scrumptious carrot cake. Yum. It's worth leaving earth for."

Why, though, should NASA limit its reach to just us earthlings? When the spaceships are hurtling through the atmosphere, won't they be seen by beings from other planets?

In the event there is intelligent - or just thirsty - life in outer space, what better way to welcome it than by a potent potable ad on the side of the rocket? "Next time you're on earth, grab a tall, cold Bud. Fifty cents off if you mention this ad."

The taxpayer-funded space program, since its inception the gold standard of American know-how, would have to stick with classy products and companies.

We can't have word floating around in distant galaxies that accommodations on earth are substandard, so NASA must ensure that only America's best companies are permitted to put their logos on the spaceships.

Ads for the Sunset Inn Motel on Highway No. 1 in Rockingham?

Nah, but welcoming the intergalactic traveler to lay her head or heads on a super-comfy pillowtop mattress covered by 800 thread-count sheets at the Ritz Carlton?


Of course, if the brothers from another planet are traveling on a budget, the Sunset Inn could be precisely what they need.

Just ask for Linda Kay, and if the manager isn't hovering nearby, she'll cut you a deal.

Do not, though, ask her "What is the thread-count for the sheets?"

"'Sheets'? You're not from around here, are you?"

Nanoo nanoo.




Meet Barry Saunders

For over 20 years, Barry was a columnist for The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. He also wrote for other publications, such as the Atlanta Constitution and the Richmond County Daily Journal. Often described as powerfully honest and illustratively funny, Barry's writing is both loved and hated by readers- sometimes simultaneously.  


Want more? Get your own copy of one of Barry's published books featuring reader favorites (and not so favorites) from his years writing columns for The News & Observer. Titled "Do Unto Others...And then Run" and "...And The Horse You Rode In On Saunders!", they're full of guaranteed entertainment. 


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