I’m clearly not going to be an astronaut. And it’s a good thing I’m not a teacher.

24 Jan
But I'll be damned if I can name them...

But I’ll be damned if I can name them…

Apparently I didn’t pay good attention during astronomy lessons as a child. This was highlighted the other night when I had to ask Alan, “Which one isn’t a planet any more? Jupiter or Pluto?”

He started giggling. “You’re joking, right?”

I was not.

“Unless it’s the Earth, Mars or Saturn, I don’t really have time for it,” I told him.

This made him laugh even harder. “You don’t ‘have time for it’? What does that even mean?” He paused. “Wait – you do know all the planets, don’t you?” he asked.

“Duh,” I nodded. “Every fourth grader knows the planets. Just don’t ask me to say them in order.”

My mind started to think back to the mnemonic we’d been taught to remember the order of the planets. “My mom makes pizza every Tuesday.”

Image Source: https://www.facebook.com/HumocracyI felt 90% confident, but thought perhaps I’d left out some descriptors. When I tried to puzzle out the planets, I came up with, “Mars, Mercury, Mmmm, Pluto, Earth, Tttth.” Which didn’t sound exactly right.

I tried again. “My mom makes delicious pizza at noon every Tuesday in June?”

Clearly, now that I’ve looked up the answer, that looks ridiculous. What planet did I think started with the letter T? Or D? And – now that I think of it – where’s the “S” for Saturn?

(In retrospect, I’ll admit – I think the phrase, “See you next Tuesday,” crept into this and confused me. If you don’t know what that means, try saying it to people and see if you get any raised eyebrows.)

Fortunately, Alan couldn’t hear my internal monologue and didn’t challenge me to name the planets. But he again seemed amused when – a few days later – we walked past the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum and I pointed out the planets they’ve constructed (to scale) in front of the building. “I wonder if they’ve yanked down the statue for Jupiter at the end.” I commented. Then amended, “Or is it Pluto?”

He shook his head, exasperated.

“Wait,” I said. “Let’s look at this line-up so I can get it straight.” So we started with the sun… and then walked to Mercury… and then walked to Venus… and then Earth… and then Mars…

“Whoa,” I stopped. “So we’ve been doing these expeditions to Mars?” Alan nodded. “Looks to me like Venus is much closer. Why don’t we go there instead?” I suggested, feeling brilliant for discovering a shortcut the so-called “scientists” at NASA had overlooked.

Again, Alan looked at me as if I were a stranger. “Perhaps because Venus has a surface temperature around 800 degrees?” he offered. “And an atmospheric pressure almost 100 times greater than Earth’s?”

“Riiiiiight,” I conceded. “That probably wouldn’t be good.” I thought for a moment.

Image Source: http://static.themetapicture.com/media/funny-earth-third-planet-from-sun.jpg“Speaking of – we’re only the third planet from the sun? That’s a lot closer than I was thinking.”

“Hence the television show ‘Third Rock’ with Jonathan Lithgow,” Alan prompted.

Indeed. (Though to be fair, I never watched that show because I thought it was a sci-fi show about aliens who lived on a rock. I had no idea it was actually set on the Earth.)

So clearly I’m a dumb-ass when it comes to astronomy. In case you are too, I thought I’d share the mnemonics I discovered to keep the planets straight. Apparently the one I learned has been obliterated since Pluto has been demoted. Here are the new versions:

My Very Educated Mother Just Saw Uncle Nick
My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Ur Nan
My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nuts

I would like to point out: these make NO sense. Why does your mom have to be educated to see Uncle Nick or serve us nuts? And what’s with “Ur Nan?” Is that a kind of bread? And why must your mom be energetic to do that?

So here are the phrases from when Pluto was considered a planet (pre-2006):

My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas
My very exquisite mother just served us nine pizzas
My very energetic mum swam under north pole

I’m going to guess a MOM created all of these since the “E” adjectives are all very flattering. And I’m going to guess that – like me – no one actually remembered them since they weren’t very vivid. Had I been the teacher, a generation of pupils might have memorized the following:

My Very Eager Mother Just Serviced Uncle Nick’s Peter

Aaaaand… that’s probably why I didn’t become a teacher.

You’re welcome. 

16 Responses to “I’m clearly not going to be an astronaut. And it’s a good thing I’m not a teacher.”

  1. Danielle January 24, 2013 at 7:44 pm #


    I learned “My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets” in third grade (so I guess the educated bit makes more sense in this version…)

    • pithypants January 24, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

      Agreed. I really can’t believe we didn’t try to make it dirty when we learned it. Must’ve been we learned it in third grade, when we were still sweet and innocent.

      • Danielle January 24, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

        Ha! Probably…by the time we were old enough to make it dirty, we were probably too busy making other innocent school things dirty.

  2. soundslikeorange January 24, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    I read parts out loud and now I “have a dirty mind.” Thank you … it was worth the loss of credibility.

  3. thesinglecell January 24, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

    My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Pickled Noodles. That’s what I learned.
    And wait, because I’m about to blow your mind all over again. Neptune and Pluto? TRADE PLACES SOMETIMES. So they took turns being the last planet in the solar system until Pluto got bitch-slapped back to Giant Rock status.

    • pithypants January 25, 2013 at 9:37 am #

      Pickled Noodles? What country were you in when you learned this mnemonic?
      Also? My mind is now officially blown. I’m going to say Neptune had Pluto bumped off.

  4. pajarigirls January 25, 2013 at 12:18 am #

    I hope you have a GPS…your navigation skills sound like mine. PS I called someone Pithy Pants at work the other day, and my sister (the queen of poo) yelled at me for swearing.

    PS, per Schoolhouse Rock, Pluto is and always will be a planet.

    • pithypants January 25, 2013 at 9:36 am #

      I actually have a great navigational skills, if you can believe that.
      But wait – how often do you use a planet to help you navigate? Maybe THAT is your problem?

      • pajarigirls January 25, 2013 at 11:04 am #

        That could be why we ended up in Camden NJ instead of Philly…

  5. The Byronic Man January 25, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    Just make up your own criteria for how something qualifies as a planet, then say that the only ones that meet it are the ones you can remember.

    “My mom makes pizza every Tuesday.”

    Mercury, mars, Pluto, Earth, Ticonderoga.

    Then, when they say “what’s Ticonderoga?” just say, “Seriously? Psh.”

    • pithypants January 25, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

      Well duh. Everyone knows Ticoneroga is planet! (Wait – it isn’t really, right?)

  6. Tanitha Smith January 26, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    “My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets”.
    My teachers obviously aren’t as imaginative as you!

    • pithypants January 27, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

      Your teachers sound like they didn’t want to get fired. How very dull and unimaginative of them.

  7. Sarah January 28, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    Too funny. We learned that “Mara’s Violet Eyes Make John Stay Up Nights Permanently.” Far racier for third grade than an educated mom. And apparently he gets some sleep now, since Pluto’s out of the picture.

    • pithypants January 29, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

      And that’s why you went to Vassar and I didn’t. Because you learned the racy mnemonics. (I’m sure that’s the *only* difference.)

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