In science news, a team of researchers has announced an exciting discovery. Using the Kepler Space Telescope, the team, which includes a Notre Dame professor, has found a planet slightly larger than Earth that “possibly could support life.”
Hold the phone. Before you ring them up with eager inquiries about field trips, just breathe. Put your head between your knees and count to 10 because there won’t be tours any time soon. This as-of-yet unnamed planet is 500 light years away, and a light year, we all know, is a mere 6 trillion miles. George Jetson, where are you?
As exhilarating as the idea of a new planet is, I must confess that my first response was a baffled, “Huh.” This was followed by the observation that as the only female here, I’ve been straddling two planets for years. This, of course, was not noted aloud, but was whispered under my breath during a rare millisecond of quietness and solitude.
If you have raised boys, had a sibling that was a boy, married a boy or know a boy, you’ll know what I mean. At times, it appears that there are 500 light years between the species. When half of the human race believes that leaving socks and underwear on the floor is a reasonable method of inventory (“that way, I know how many are in my drawer”), you know. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and there are aliens on your little planet.
The truth becomes clear as Waterford crystal when one attempts interplanetary communication of any sort. Mostly, there’s a lot of static interspersed with grunts (them), squawks (me) and some Oscar-worthy charades. If you don’t believe me, you should join us at the dinner table where one night, a great belch issued forth. When I did the mom thing and squealed, the burper said, “In China, that would be a compliment.” And then beamed as though he’d done something helpful and great.