Sunday, December 5, 2010


One day I was sitting at the computer, googling pictures of Mickey Dolenz, when suddenly I looked out the screen door and spotted a short, middle-aged bald man running around my house in his underwear.

I ran out onto the front porch and waited for him to come by again. Presently the man rounded the corner of my house and came huffing and puffing across the front yard, barefoot, his baggy boxer shorts flapping in the wind. My eyes focused on his face as he approached, and to my shock-it was Phil Collins. "ZOOM! I'M A ROCKETSHIP!" he cried as he thrust his arms forward and jumped up and down into the air, disappearing around the other corner.

"Why?" I thought. "Why is former Genesis frontman and wildly-successful solo recording artist Phil Collins running around my house in his underwear? And why does he think he's a rocketship?" At this point, I was afraid that maybe my mind was playing tricks on me and I was just seeing things. So I waited to see if he would show up again.

Sure enough, here came Phil Collins rounding the corner of my house just as before, screaming "ZOOM! ZOOOOOM!" By this time, several of my neighbors' dogs were chasing him, including two Dachshunds, a Chihuahua, and Mrs. Wilson's poodle, Milkshake. They were yapping away, but they couldn't drown out Phil's frantic exclamations. "I'M A ROCKETSHIP!" he repeated as he disappeared around the corner again.

"Why?" I thought. "Why MY house? Why MY hometown, which is so far away from Phil Collins' native England? Why? WHY?"

"ZOOM! ZOOOOOOM!" I could hear echoing from my backyard as he made his way inexorably around the house. By this time, several of my neighbors were beginning to wander over to see what the hubbub was, and when Phil reappeared, a few of them pointed and said, "Look! It's Phil Collins!" Some of the little kids started chasing him too, laughing happily and pretending to be rocketships. But Phil took no notice of the neighbors, the little kids, or the dogs as he ran, jumping up and down with his arms outstretched, proclaiming once again "I'M A ROCKETSHIP!"


But he didn't hear me, because he had already rounded the corner again. My next-door neighbor Ralph ambled up and stood beside me on the front porch, smoking his pipe. "Isn't that Phil Collins, the singer?" he asked, a cloud of rich, aromatic pipe smoke swirling lazily around his head.

"Yes, it is," I replied.

Ralph puffed thoughtfully. "It looks like he's lost his mind, or something," he pondered. "You know, what with the running around your house in his underwear, thinking he's a rocketship, and whatnot."

I was about to respond, when Phil showed up again. By this time he was seriously out of breath, struggling to continue as his chest heaved and his feet began to drag. "I'M...I'M A ROCKETSHIP," he wheezed. "ZOOM...ZOOOOOOOM..." Suddenly he whirled around and fell flat on his back, his feet flying upward and then landing with a plop onto the grass. The dogs jumped up and down around him, yapping. The little kids stopped and watched, wondering what Phil would do next.

"I guess he landed," one of them said.

At that moment, a van pulled up in front of my house. On the side of it were the words "PHIL COLLINS ROCKETSHIP RETRIEVAL SERVICE." Two men in uniforms got out, picked Phil up on a stretcher, and placed him in the back of the van. Then they got back in without a word and drove away.

My neighbors watched the van disappear down the street, and then they all looked at me like the whole thing was my fault or something. I shrugged. Finally, they all wandered away. Milkshake barked at me a few times, but quickly lost interest and scampered back to Mrs. Wilson's house a few doors down. I went back inside and sat down in front of the computer. There was a picture of Mickey Dolenz on the monitor. It seemed as though he were laughing at me. And to this day, I can't look at a picture of Mickey Dolenz without getting the impression that he's laughing at me about Phil Collins running around my house in his underwear, thinking he's a rocketship.

(originally posted at

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