When you write a weekly column that, at least superficially, deals with current events of local, state, or national interest, sometimes you have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to come up with an idea.
Let's face it, y'all. Some weeks are slow news weeks, and people eventually tire of reading about partisan politics, digging for doodle bugs and how good my mama's fried chicken used to be.
Put your hands down, please. I didn't ask for an amen.
But thankfully, the world is populated by people, and there is no limit, when dealing with people, in their capacity for bizarre behavior. That is why most of the time, finding a topic is like hunting over a baited field or maybe shooting fish in a barrel.
Thank God and NASA, this is one of those weeks.
What is the world coming to? I have heard the expression, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."
I am also familiar with the old adage, "A wise monkey doesn't monkey with another monkey's monkey."
And I know all about love triangles and every form of "he-in' and she-in'" imaginable and I also realize that logic goes out the back window when love and lust walk through the front door. But still!
It just isn't every day that you pick up the newspaper or turn on the television and read about an astronaut being charged with attempted murder and kidnapping - especially one who has driven halfway across the country in a diaper. But as you all know by now, that is exactly what astronaut Lisa Nowak has been accused of this week.
Let this story roll around in your brain for a while. This woman is an astronaut. She has undergone extensive training and, one would think, all manner of physical and psychological testing. She's one of a relatively minute number of people who have visited outer space.
You just naturally expect better behavior from an astronaut - especially if you grew up in the days of our country's space race with the Soviet Union, like I did.
If you are my age or older, you remember how it was back then. The people of my generation revered the astronauts. We have "T-minus six minutes and counting" permanently etched into our collective psyches. We remember terms like "lift-off" and "splash-down" and Friendship 7. We can name all seven of the original Mercury astronauts.
OK. Maybe we can name five or six.
But we remember where we were and what we were doing when Alan Shepard first blasted off from Cape Canaveral and we recall most of the subsequent missions - all the way up to that "one small step for man."
But let's be honest here. Can you imagine John Glenn attacking Gus Grissom with a can of pepper spray and a BB gun?
I guess astronaut Bill Oefelein has the right stuff because he is at the center of the controversy. As you undoubtedly have heard by now, Nowak apparently had her afterburners in a wad because she thought Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman was flying in the same orbit with Oefelein, and Novak had apparently already filed a flight plan for that mission - never mind the fact that she is married with three children.
And police say she was in such a hurry to confront Shipman that she didn't even want to stop and use the bathroom as she drove from Houston, Texas, to Orlando, Fla.
I guess stopping for a glass of Tang was completely out of the question.
The judge in the case released Nowak on a $15,000 bond, which doesn't seem like much in an attempted kidnapping and murder case. But he is making her wear a GPS, 24-7.
I ain't making this up, y'all. An astronaut is wearing a "global" positioning device - which will be fine unless she hops the next space shuttle to Mars or Uranus.
But NASA is on top of things, so to speak. They have grounded Nowak for 30 days - pending the outcome of the investigation.
And speaking of investigations - the one into Nowak's prior activities has turned up information that neighbors called the police to her house in November because they heard the sound of crashing dishes inside, which brings a whole new meaning to the term "flying saucer." I told you this story was like hunting over a baited field.
I can't wait to see what happens next. If you will tolerate one more cheap analogy, I bet it's something out of this world.
Darrell Huckaby is an author and teacher in Rockdale County. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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