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At Air and Space

They were old men.  Their suits gapped at the neck.  Michael Collins wore a hearing aid, and what was left of John Glenn's hair was white wisps against the back of his pale neck.

We sat in the planetarium of the National Air and Space Museum, tilting back at an angle to stare at the ceiling.  The stars were out.

When the speakers entered, nobody recognized Chris Kraft and Glenn.  I stood alone in an only slightly

The stars were out: Aldrin, Collins, and Armstrong

uncomfortable one-dork ovation.  Everybody else stood when the Apollo 11 crew entered; Armstrong, the shy one, the one who I've been told hides from his own fame, was the only man who waved and made eye contact.  Not with me, mind you.  He's not stupid.

Aldrin gazed at the ceiling.   Collins did not.  He didn't have to.  As the first director of the Air and Space

Museum, he approved the plans for the building in which we sat.

We now come to the most startling realization of the evening:  Someone gave the astronauts... nametags.  HELLO MY NAME IS JOHN GLENN.


Chris Kraft spoke about the origins of NASA.  He yelled at President Obama for thirty seconds and then he sat down.

Buzz Aldrin was incomprehensible.  He put up a Power Point slide concerning a proposed timeline to reach Mars or... Guam... or... something.  He is way up in this genius/crazy person range, the light of which the rest of us won't be able to see for about fifteen thousand years, and I was disappointed that I didn't have the chance to speak with him after the lecture.  I had so many questions for the second man to walk on the moon!  Like: "What was it like to be on Punky Brewster?" and "What was it like to be on Head of the Class?"  He yelled at Obama for fifteen seconds and then sat down.

Michael Collins speaks exactly the way he writes, which is depressingly well.  I can take good writing from other writers.  It's what we do.  We're wired for it, and practice a whole lot, and prepare mightily by taking lots and lots of antidepressants.  Left brained Mike Collins did none of this, and the last time I finished one of his books I was so low that I didn't take any of my antidepressants for a a week.

Collins made fun of the enormous gravity well he was standing in there in the IMAX theater, and hurled this picture upon the screen behind him:

"There are three billion people on the small thing," he said, "and two people in the big thing, and the photographer is discreetly staying out of the frame."  Then he told everybody to stop having babies and sat down.

Neil Armstrong had a title for his presentation, and every word in the title started with the same letter, and he had complete paragraphs and a thesis statement and everything.  I am thinking he did not cite Wikipedia as a source.  He didn't yell at anyone or tell us what to do.  He seemed like a naturally shy person who also knows how to speak to a crowd, and he generated within me great waves of protectionism.  That's right.  I will go all Buzz Aldrin on your ass if you mess with Neil Armstrong.

Seen in the crowd:  Flight director Gene Kranz, Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter, these two poor lost souls.


Not seen in the crowd:  Chuck Yeager, who perhaps preferred to allow the Bell X-1 hanging over our heads to do the talking for him.

still spaced at:  marybethATmorningworksmedia.com

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Reader Comments (6)

[...] At Air and Space Share and Enjoy: [...]

Aw! Totally wish I could have been there! I would have made it a two dork ovation. ;-)

Yeah for giving the ovation to Glenn!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstarnarcosis

I was living in The Bend when John Glenn made his triumphant return to space. I will never forget how happy he looked every time they showed him on tv.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteramy t.


An yeah, Aldrin has been puzzling us UFO buffs with his selling the idea of a Mars mission by mentioning an obscure http://dailygrail.com/news/buzz-aldrin-and-the-monolith" rel="nofollow">monolith in Phobos. I would like to ask him more about this, but I'm more than aware of his formidable arm ;-)

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterred pill junkie

I am oh-so-very envious!!!!!

August 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick (BestMan)
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