You remember the stinky kid at camp when you were young? I was that kid at Space Camp, the summer after my fourth grade year. I thought I was hot shit in my blue NASA flight suit and my Space Camp t-shirt. I had aviator sunglasses too. It was the best time of my life.
The other kids didn’t like me that much; I believe I got stuck in mission control because I was young and smelly. No one said a word to me about it.
It wasn’t like I was the stinky kid on purpose: I’d forgotten my lock combination and I was embarrassed, so I didn’t tell a soul. I was young and had never been in an environment with group showers. Showers were a private thing; I went in once at the camp and told myself I wouldn’t go back. I still feel weird about showering in campgrounds and at the beach.
When we graduated at the end of the seven days of going through “real astronaut training,” there was a graduation ceremony where everyone got silver wings and a certificate. Afterward when I met up with my aunt and grandparents, they were astonished to learn I hadn’t bathed in a week. The family still laughs at this story.
Somewhere packed away with other mementos of a life that is long gone, my mother has it all saved – the suit, the wings, the certificate. All I have are my memories of being the stinky kid.