I remember the Challenger explosion like it was yesterday, not in 1986. I had just turned 9 years old. Instead of class, we were all gathered together in one big room and it was exciting! No work right now? We’re going to watch television? In the middle of the day?
My teachers moved quickly. When the shuttle exploded, the TV was off in a matter of seconds. None of us quite understood what had just occurred, but it became evident over the rest of the day as we listened to the whispers of the adults around us.
It happened early on a Tuesday morning, and my mother, who was the first assistant to the open heart surgeons at Ormond Beach Memorial, didn’t get home until late that night. By the time we spent any time together, it was dinner on Wednesday evening, a full 36 hours after the disaster. And plenty of time for my mother and her co-workers to come up with, hear, and share multiple jokes about the explosion. In her line of work, a morbid sense of humor is mandatory for psychological survival, but her need to share those jokes is pure genetics. My dad didn’t want to hear them, so I think that the Avitable you know and love was probably born on January 29th, 1986, when my mother decided to share those jokes with an extremely smart, socially awkward 9-year old boy, who, in turn found them absolutely hilarious.
So, in honor of the anniversary of the Challenger disaster, here are some of my favorite jokes at the time:
Q: What color were Christa McAuliffe’s eyes?
A: Blue. One blew that way and one blew the other.
Q: What were Christa McAuliffe’s last words to her husband?
A: “You feed the dogs, I’ll feed the fish.”
Q: What were Christa McAuliffe’s last words?
A: “What does this button do?”
Q: What was the last thing to go through crewmember Michael J. Smith’s mind?
A: The control panel
Q: What does NASA stand for?
A: Need Another Seven Astronauts
Q: How many astronauts can fit into a Volkswagen Bug?
A: 11. Two in the front seat, two in the back seat, seven in the ashtray.
Q: How do they know what shampoo Christa McAuliffe used?
A: They found her Head & Shoulders on the beach.
And now you know the Origin of Avitable.