On Thursday morning, the papers announced that Gary Chocolate-Bear and his family would be the first Chocolate-Bears in space.
“Congratulations on the moon trip, Gary”, said Ronald Tewilliger, the Chocolate-Bears neighbor, as Gary was leaving for his job at the sewer factory.
“Thanks, Tewilliger”, replied Gary, and he drove into Tewilliger’s mailbox with his Hummer. The Hummer was Gary’s first big purchase from the endorsement money the Chocolate-Bears had received for winning the space contest. Oh, and he hated Tewilliger. That part is important since it would seem odd, based on their brief exchange, for Gary to have reacted in such a manner, unless it was an accident, which I’m telling you it wasn’t. He hated him. It doesn’t matter why.
The space contest, or the Space Race, as the Chocolate-Bears had come to call it, was just that: a race. So it really was neither strange nor clever that they referred to it as such. As it turns out, millions of Americans were doing the same thing, including most of the press. But by a rare coincidence, none of these people happened to know the Chocolate-Bears, nor did anyone in the family read the phrase in print, or hear it on television, so they were unaware that their "beats were stale", to quote a great, fictional doctor and part-time deejay.
Now, as I said, this contest, the contest won by the Chocolate-Bears, was a race, and in particular it was a race from Boston Harbor to the beaches of Peniche, Portugal, sponsored by Crest. The contestants were not allowed to use boats or planes, or any means of transportation other than their own limbs; however, they were allowed to carry with them as many tubes of toothpaste as they could manage. And it was this gift of hygiene that cost the lives of several hundred entrants, including the Chocolate-Bear’s youngest, Trudy, who, like her fellow departees, used her fingers to brush instead of swim. Mrs. Chocolate-Bear lamented the family’s loss in a brief, impromptu, floating funeral, claiming that “it was worse’n when somebody gits hit by a truck wearin’ durty drawers”, because, let’s face it, no tooth has ever been cleaned with a finger brush no matter how vigorous the scrubbing, and to meet one’s fate with a scuzzy mouth is probably the worst thing that could ever, ever happen to anyone, anywhere. But the Chocolate-Bears had entered the Space Race with great determination to win, and at all costs. And they did. I said that at the beginning of this story, and again in the first sentence of this paragraph.
And now the four Chocolate-Bears, previously known as the five Chocolate-Bears, were going to the moon. The moon, where seldom man has tread.
And they did.
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