Astronaut, doctor, super hero, veterinarian, pop star, race car driver, policeman, secret agent, athlete, teacher, firefighter, zookeeper, and President of the United States. Exciting careers, right? Rewarding and if you're lucky, so are the pay checks. In my pre-teen years nothing on that short list grabbed my attention. Thanks to hours spent reading National Geographic and encyclopedias, the better questions to have asked me would have been:
4) retail sales
5) fashion business
6) bank teller
"So, Miss McCrillis, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
"A writer and an etymologist."
Gerbil-ish eyes peered at me over indigo reading glasses. "You mean...an entomologist."
He ignores my rebuttal.
"So. You want to work with bugs."
"No, sir. I want to work with people who write dictionaries. Etymology is the origin and history of words. Entomology is the study of insects."
And then Mr. Niggle uttered a phrase I'd heard before I walked into his office and have heard innumerable times since.
"That's not normal."
I wonder how many more check marks he would have put in the Not Normal column of my interview sheet if I'd added,
"and I want to be a pilot, like my dad. And be a Thunderbird pilot."
"The closest you're ever going to get to a runway," said my dad when I told him of my dream to fly for the USAF, "is from the Air Traffic Control Tower. " A sad truth at the time. Women began training with the squadron in 1974, but the first one to fly with the Thunderbird Air Demonstration Squadron is USAF Major Nicole Malachowski, call sign “FiFi”, in 2006. She had the privilege of flying with the team for two years.
If I'd had my way in the early 1970s I would've flown jet fighters, rocketed across the skies as close to Mach 1/the speed of sound/roughly 700 mph, as the super fine aircraft allowed. My travel log would be filled with names of countries I flew to and the people I met in each one.
And for a certain high school guidance counselor, I'd keep a list of native bugs.
Did you make them happen?