GETTIN’ HIGH IN THE FRIENDLY SKY
The first hero I ever had was John Glenn. He was the first American to orbit the Earth in a space capsule, Friendship 7.
John Glenn, Weightless In Orbit
Glenn was a member of the coolest gang on the planet, the original Project Mercury astronauts. Let’s see, off the top of my head there were Glenn, Wally Schirra, Scott Carpenter, Alan Shepherd, Gus Grissom, Gordon Cooper, um, uh….
Okay, help me Wikipedia. Oh yeah, I forgot Deke Slayton. Poor guy — was diagnosed with a heart murmur and was grounded before he could go up in a Mercury capsule. Fortunately, he was given clearance to ride on the Apollo/Soyuz mission in 1975.
So, I got six of the seven. Pretty good for 50 years later.
Swear to god, I spent the years from September 12, 1962, when President Kennedy committed America to landing humans (oh, okay, men) on the moon by the end of the decade, to July 20, 1969 in a state of eager impatience.
The only things I looked forward to as much were getting my first drivers license and, aw gee, having my first sexual experience.
Turns out the drivers license thing was an anticlimax. The sex thing, you’ll pardon the pun, was not.
But neither experience could match the night that Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin hopped out of the LEM onto the lunar surface. Honest. I remember that night — I do not remember my first sexual experience. Okay, call me a geek.
Buzz Aldrin On The Moon (Neil Armstrong In The Reflection)
I remember just staring at the moon that Sunday night. I knew I wouldn’t be able to see anything out of the ordinary but, still, I stared.
Yes, I was a space geek. Always have been. In fact, The Loved One and I visited Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center a few years ago. I kid you not, I spent a full 20 minutes just gawking — with my mouth open — at the Saturn rocket hanging from the ceiling of the museum.
Saturday morning when The Loved One and I walked into Soma Coffee, our pal Alex Straiker, the mad scientist of the brain, was glued to his laptop screen, watching NASA’s live stream of of the Mars Curiosity Science Laboratory liftoff.
“Only 22 minutes to go,” Straiker said, appearing about as boyish as a graying, middle-aged man can.
“Aw, cool!” I said, just as boyish.
Nice to know there are at least three of us left in this world.
FROM OUTER SPACE TO INNER CRANIUM
Speaking of Alex Straiker, check out his microscopy images on our Gallery & Studio page.