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A Strange Letter Regarding Uranus

So today absolutely nothing of artistic value occurred. I got a haircut, bought some new clothes for my "tour," did some puppy maintenance, went to Target and bought a bunch of crap for my "tour," including a couch and a blender for my "tour" bus. Then I remembered I didn't have a bus, just a rented Chevy Impala I am driving down to NY with my wife and daughter, because the brakes went out on our real car. So I returned the crap to Target. Then I thought: what the hell, and also returned all the clothes I bought and had the hair that was earlier cut off surgically restored. So now I am back to Square One. So am feeling remiss. How, I ask myself, is one to blog when nothing happened? And I reply with the timeless answer: Reproduce that odd, yet intriguing letter your friend "Jeff" got earlier this year.

Remember earlier this year, when scientists announced a change in the status of Pluto? Well, a friend of mine ("Jeff") works for Disney, and imagine his surprise when the following letter found its way to his desk, a letter mysteriously addressed to:

÷ ÷ ÷

Mr. Mickey Mouse
Anaheim, CA

Dear Mr. Mouse,

Earlier this month, astronomers determined that the planet formerly known as Pluto is not, in fact, a planet. We at NASA are writing because it is our understanding that your dog ("Pluto") was named in honor of Pluto, which was, at that time, the most recently discovered planet.

If it was, in fact, your intention to honor the most recently discovered planet, we regret to inform you that your dog's name must now be "Uranus."

Hear us out.

Uranus is a perfectly good planet. Uranus is wonderful. Hold on, hold on, we are not joking. Bob, shut up. That's not funny.

Bob is the one who told me to type "Uranus is wonderful." Sorry, really sorry. Bob thinks he is like this big comedian. Not so funny when you lost that satellite, Bob, or at least the Dutch did not think so.

See, now he gets all quiet.

Here are some interesting facts you might not know about Uranus: Did you know that Uranus is tilted? That is true. Long ago, Uranus collided with a planet, and that explains the tilt in Uranus. Did you know Uranus has 22 moons? Right, Bob? Bob says yes. Bob tells me to tell you that yes, there are 22 moons floating around Uranus, Mr. Mouse. Bob says to tell you that he considers himself an expert on Uranus.

Bob, sit up. You are with NASA. Do not keep sliding down on the floor like that. Your pencils are coming out of your pocket-protector, Bob —

Mr. Mouse, did you know Uranus is blue-green in color? Did you know that, in 1977, Uranus appeared to "blink" several times? True story! Several amazed scientists from Cornell University watched as Uranus blinked.

Bob is now on floor again. Christ. Bob, hello? This is a place of work.

What's that you say, Bob? Oh no you did not. Oh Bob, Mr. Mouse is a busy… a busy mouse, Bob. That is not funny, Bob.

Sorry, Mr. Mouse. We here at NASA have had a slight miscommunication. Bob informs us, in direct contradiction of what he informed us like ten minutes ago, that the last planet discovered before Pluto, was not, in fact, Uranus. Uranus was discovered in 1871.

Bob says he thinks it is very important for you to know when Uranus was discovered.

Bob, does this honestly never get old for you?

The last planet discovered was actually Neptune, Mr. Mouse. So, if it was, in fact, your intention to honor the most recently discovered planet, we are happy to inform you that your dog's name should now be "Neptune."

What's that, Bob? No you certainly may not ask a question.

Bob, if anyone is the anus around here, it's you. Go crash another satellite, Bob. Yes, feel free to crash it right into —

Damn, damn it, why do I keep falling for —

Sincerely, with apologies, Mr. Mouse, we love what you do,

Your Friends at NASA

÷ ÷ ÷

So that is all for tonight. To anyone offended by the above, I sincerely apologize. I understand that Some people are not as captivated by Uranus as I am. Ha ha!

Yes, I did that on purpose.

Don't worry, I can stop anytime I like. I am fully in control over any and all jokes about Uranus.

Yikes. For all of our sakes, let's hope that something actually happens tomorrow, so there will be no need for Gitmo trip reports or letters-from-NASA. Instead, as I drive from Syracuse to New York, I will be on the lookout for pithy nature observations and deep poetic insights about America, a la Kerouac.

Til then,

÷ ÷ ÷

George Saunders is a MacArthur “Genius Grant” fellow and the acclaimed author of several collections of short stories, including Tenth of December, Pastoralia, and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, as well as a collection of essays and a book for children. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Tenth of December: Stories
    Used Hardcover $14.00
  2. Pastoralia
    Sale Trade Paper $7.98
  3. CivilWarLand in Bad Decline: Stories... Used Trade Paper $7.95

George Saunders is the author of CivilWarLand in Bad Decline: Stories and a Novella

2 Responses to "A Strange Letter Regarding Uranus"

    Tadd Adcox September 6th, 2007 at 7:25 am

    Mr. Saunders, it is a wonderful thing to know that, for all the great and abiding themes that appear in your stories, you are nevertheless able to be carried away by a good joke about Uranus. And I mean that as a longtime fan of both A, your work, and B, the planet Uranus.

    Maria Dahvana Headley September 6th, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Also a longtime fan of your work. And thoroughly pleased to read about snickering Nasa employees and Uranus jokes. Thanks for getting me to laugh before I've even had my coffee.

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