Well, I decided not to apply to be a "Reporter in Space" after all.

I really wanted to do it. It was as though I had been waiting for this invitation most of my life. And I felt as though it was directed at me. Never mind that I hate 727s and even elevators don't thrill me. Space is, well, different.

After all, my father taught me the constellations more than half a century ago. In kindergarten I could recite the planets from Mercury on out, in the right order. And once I learned how to read, there simply wasn't enough science fiction, pulp and otherwise, to keep me sated.

I believed it all in those days, along with the Rainbow Fairy Book and the Oz books. Although when I was about 7, I remember reading a story about a rain forest just outside Baltimore and somehow I knew there was more poetry than truth to that one. I thought about astronomy as a career, but I had a little trouble with long division and that cooled my ardor.

My moment of glory came when Sputnik went up. I was having coffee with some of my neighbors -- intellectuals all, I might add -- but I was the only one who knew what a "g" was, or "thrust." Or, for that matter, orbits, for Pete's sake.

Thanks to the old days of Astounding Science Fiction, I had no trouble at all sounding not only knowledgeable, but, I will admit, a tad patronizing.

As science fiction began blending into science fact, I kept on watching and waiting. Watching "Star Trek," over and over, and waiting for my chance.

The shuttle offer to journalists was clearly IT.

My kids thought it was a great idea.

Even some of my colleagues, not wholly oblivious to the incongruity of this aging, um, lady -- not as old as Walter Cronkite, but closing fast -- flitting around a spaceship, formed the SSSSh Committee (for Send Sandy to Space in the Shuttle).

I had the application -- a daunting 12 pages. And I was all set.

Then I heard that Cronkite and Sam Donaldson and maybe Tom Wolfe had applied.

Give me a break.

I gave up on the spot.

After all, as Damon Runyon so aptly put it, "It may be that the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong -- but that is the way to bet."