The very moment Neil Armstrong set the first step onto the lunar surface on July 21st1969, I kicked my mom very hard. As I was not yet born, she forgave me. From that very moment on, I wanted to be an astronaut. I’ve never kicked my mom again. I still want to be an astronaut.
Armstrong is my very private hero. They don’t make heroes like that anymore. Today’s heroes pose in Armani underwear, are married to a Spice Girl and play soccer. Or they have a hoodie on, and rap, covered in fake gold blingbling. Or they have a hoodie on, and do something in social media, like invent Foursquare or Facebook. Honestly, in my book, it takes more that writing a mean line of code to become a hero.
Think about it. Early astronauts, the world’s finest. Tall, intelligent, strong, quick. They tested new airplanes, wrecked them and were home for lunch. What appeared like freckles on their tanned skin were the rusty ends of their iron nerves. Early astronauts could calculate with a watch, repair a spacecraft with some bubblegum, a toothpick and a strawberry condom. They could drink like a Hummer, save damsels from distress, fix their own car (imagine a red Thunderbird), and could fly a lawnmower if they had to. Astronauts were Buck Rogers.
Armstrong was a poet. You set foot on the moon, and you come up with, “This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Brilliant. But how about this line: “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” Feeling small makes a giant hero.
“To boldly go where no man has gone before.” Gagarin went into space, in a tin can. Armstrong went to the moon in a modified Volkswagen Beetle. And back. Armstrong was the Stig’s famous brother.
The social media world was in frenzy this week, tweeting and posting that Armstrong died. Bull. He is out there, warp speeding through the sky, fighting Klingons, dusting the International Space Station, playing hide-and-seek in the asteroid belt with Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White and Roger B. Chaffee.
See, astronauts don’t die. They go into deep space to regroup.