An End of Innocence

We at “Inside the Headquarters” need to believe some people are perfect. We know they’re not, but we need to have our secret fantasies that they are. Take astronauts, for example. They need to be perfect. It’s a rule. We don’t want their imperfections publicized. We want to believe in something bigger, and those who conquer space have long been our icons.

Some things need to remain private, but decorum and civility no longer prevail. Former astronaut Navy Capt. Lisa Nowak fell prey to the inexplicable hunger for the gruesome. (We know she brought this on herself, but we didn’t want to know.)
Nowak was arrested and charged with attempted kidnapping with intent to inflict bodily harm, battery, and burglary of a vehicle using a weapon after she drove from Houston to Orlando, Fla., to confront an apparent romantic rival. A judge (riding a white horse, wearing a white hat) has tossed the evidence seized from her car and statements she made to police. It seems police tactics were the problem. (Police. Wearing black. Guns blazing.)

Big break for Nowak, but the damage to the astronaut program has been done.
We don’t want to know about Nowak’s until-now undetected disorders. We don’t want to know the details of the sad, sad, trail from Houston to Orlando. We don’t want to see the photos. Here’s the big one: We do not want to know about an astronaut love triangle. Yuck. While we’re sure it happens, we don’t want to know about it with our astronauts (or our parents).

Nowak, who looked so frail, so small (camera angle), so human, looked nothing like an astronaut and nothing like what we want to believe. Thank you, Orlando police (wearing black hats) for shattering one of the few images sacred in our society. It was unnecessary.

Nowak, though tossed from the space program, might quietly leave the service without jail time and with a retirement.

However, astronauts will remain tarnished for a long time to come. It is an end to an era of sorts. An end to an all-too-rare innocence. The death of an icon.

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