Russ Batenhorst

Russ Batenhorst

Excuse me, Mr. Branson? Mr. — no, wait — Sir Richard Branson?

I know you’ve been pretty busy lately so I don’t really want to interrupt.

Just want to let you know that I’m right over here if you need me. Or want to be a really nice guy.

I know you had a busy Sunday because I was keeping track of it. Even streamed your company’s You Tube feed on my i-Pad out in the kitchen while I was scrambling some eggs.

I saw you take your Virgin Galactic aircraft right up to the edge of space — or just into space, I guess we should say.

It’s the spacecraft you’ve been working on for years, on which you have spent billions for either: 1) the scientific advancement of all mankind as we continue to use space travel as a very viable way to do research and formulate tremendous advances to help us all; or 2) a joy ride to weightlessness because … well, because you can.

I also know that you’re readying that spaceship for tourists.

Your hope is that next year your company will begin carrying everyday people — you know, the one’s who can afford to buy a $250,000 ticket — for the same one-hour joy ride you just finished Sunday.

So, anyway, I’m ready to go.

Just right over here if you get the chance to visit, and feel inclined to give a hack writer, who once a week babbles on for 700 words and calls it a hobby, a free ride.

I don’t expect a quick answer.

Like I said, I know you’ve been busy.

Oh, I don’t mean the trip to the edge of space, that was over Sunday morning. It’s just all those demands on your time since.

I think I’ve seen video clips or read excerpts of 10 or more “exclusive” interviews you have given since then, which makes me wonder about the term exclusive.

Sure, it’s an “exclusive” interview if you’re talking to just that one person at the time.

They exclusively have your attention at the moment. But is it really exclusive if you turn around and do the same thing for scores of others?

But I digress. Back to my desire to take one of your flights.

I, too, have always been infatuated with space flight and dreamed of being an astronaut.

It’s a dream slightly trampled on though by the reality that most astronauts are in prime physical condition, can stand tremendous strains on their bodies for the launch, have amazing scientific minds for the total involvement of their flight and have been working on their goal for decades.

That is until I saw your flight Sunday.

It looked just slightly less taxing than half the rides at Disneyland.

The video showed you and three others pressed back in your seats when the rocket kicked in, but since you were already 50,000 feet off the ground, it wasn’t the jolt of a ground lift-off.

Space Mountain put me much farther back into my seat.

You appeared for much of the rest of the flight to be more comfortably seated than I am on a Delta Airlines flight to Chicago, and you even got to unbelt for four minutes of weightlessness floating around the cabin.

The Tower of Terror gave me a few seconds of that feeling.

The landing looked like a piece of cake, too.

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you had a stale package of pretzels and bought an electric nose hair trimmer from Space Mall magazine while you were up there.

So, I think I can handle that.

I know there’s going to be a “lottery” for two people to get a free flight, but given my track record in keno, bingo, scratch cards, craps, horse racing and decades of Catholic school fund-raising raffles, I think I’m better off to just beg for your kindness.

Because, believe me, the other option, paying 250-grand, ain’t happening.

So, if I hit a soft spot, and you’re interested in talking to me, I’ll be more than happy to grant an exclusive interview for us to get to know each other better.

Just let me know soon, as I have letters to Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk ready to send out next.

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