If I were an astronaut, I would eat a million steaks. Big, thick, juicy steaks with lots of ketchup and steak sauce, and a big pile of delicious tater tots, and three vegetables–probably spinach, English peas, and asparagus. I’d want a big, big salad too, drenched in Thousand Island dressing, because with a million steaks you’d need an enormous amount of salad. When asked how I wanted my million steaks cooked, I’d say “Well done, dumbass.” And that’s what I would do if I were an astronaut.
I know this without even thinking about it because I’ve been asked that question a lot over the years and I got tired of stammering, “Uhh, I’d, uhh…well, I’d uhh…” so I finally sat down and figured out exactly what I’d do if I were an astronaut so that I could reel off the answer immediately, with supreme confidence. This has helped my social life immeasurably and made me the toast of sophisticated parties all over town. Now people make it a point to ask me what I would do if I were an astronaut, and my “I would eat a million steaks” speech has become legendary among the denizens of high society.
The one drawback to this, of course, is that I run the risk of becoming predictable. So every once in a while, when someone asks me the “astronaut question”, I pull the old dipsy-doodle on them and respond with something totally unexpected. Just last week, the mayor and his wife invited me to a fancy dinner party in honor of some important fatass from out of town, and during the lobster entree Mrs. Mayor coyly inquired, “Err, porfle–what would you do if you were an astronaut?”
Everyone leaned forward expectantly, waiting to be instantly gratified by my “I would eat a million steaks” response. Instead, I answered the question by stating: “If I were an astronaut, I would blast off in rocket ships and go on missions in outer space. I would wear a spacesuit and float around in zero gravity. Why, I might even go to the moon! And I would eat pasty astronaut food from little squirty tubes.”
Shocked, Mrs. Mayor looked around in embarrassment and then pressed me further. “What, err, what else would you do?” she asked. “That is, what else would you…you know…eat?”
“Oh!” I said, feigning a sudden realization that my “million steaks” speech was being set up. Mrs. Mayor breathed a sigh of relief and sat back to hear it at last. Instead, I picked up the lobster I was eating and held it up. “I would also eat one of these.” I handed it to her and then asked her to pass it around so everyone could see it. She did so, reluctantly, and then trembled with dismay as the lobster made its way around the table. The guests regarded it as though it were an aborted cow fetus. When it got to the important fatass from out of town, he flatly refused to handle it, so the lady who was now stuck with it began to weep openly.
Mrs. Mayor tried one last time to rescue the occasion from total disaster. “Are you…absolutely sure…that if you were an astronaut…you wouldn’t…perhaps…eat anything else?” A freakish grin of insane, desperate hope contorted her face.
“Such as?” I asked casually, munching on a sliver of carrot and waving it around.
“Wouldn’t you…” she gasped, almost croaking, “…wouldn’t you…eat…a million steaks?”
Silence filled the room. Everyone sat stock-still, their bodies tensed like coils. I held up my index finger. A billionaire railroad tycoon from Philadelphia grasped his chest with a hideous groan and fell out of his chair. Nobody noticed. I drew a breath. The lady holding my lobster fell face-first into her plate with a clattering thud. I opened my mouth to speak. The air crackled with so much static electricity that everyone’s hair stood on end as though they were all wearing fright wigs.
“Eat a million steaks?” I repeated with a chuckle of smug derision. “A MILLION steaks? How monumentally absurd, ha-ha. Why, it would be both impossible and ridiculous.” With a thinly-disguised snort, I glanced sideways at Mrs. Mayor and rolled my eyes. She suddenly fell backward in her chair with a tremendous crash, her feet sticking straight up over the edge of the table. The mayor didn’t move–he’d already lapsed into a catatonic state several minutes earlier.
Everyone else at the table began to vomit, the tension finally too much for them to endure. They vomited convulsively for what seemed like several minutes, some hurling their liquified lobster dinners up to ten feet or more. Soon the air was filled with crisscrossing trails of flying vomit which splashed all over the people sitting opposite each other. A smartly-dressed waiter emerged from the kitchen with a silver platter of after-dinner apertifs, turned on his heel, and disappeared back into the kitchen.
I rose from my chair and walked slowly through the hail of vomit, a glazed look in my eyes. The front door opened for me and I wandered out into the night as once-gay party streamers drifted starkly in the chilling wind. I could still hear Mama’s warning voice echoing in my mind: “They’re all gonna LAUGH at you!” But I showed them. I showed them all.
Hope you don’t mind–I couldn’t think of anything to write about this week, so I posted this old composition from my eighth grade English class entitled “If I Were An Astronaut.” (I got a B minus on it.) I never became an astronaut, but I did keep eating steaks as often as possible. I don’t know if I’ve eaten a million of them yet, though, because I lost count back in 1987.