Sunday, December 12, 2010

Night Out with Buzz Aldrin

On Wednesday night, Jeff and I were at the DLR Holiday Party visiting with friends, and Buzz Aldrin showed up. The French interns that we had been chatting with got their picture with him, and then started chatting, and Tommy and a few of us joined the conversation. We talked mostly about the U.S. human spaceflight program and where it was headed. Buzz was saying that it's important for the U.S. to have a very specific goal and a vehicle to achieve that goal. He doesn't like the current plan with includes a multi-purpose vehicle.

After chatting for a while at the party, our friend Phil spear-headed a plan to head to a bar around the corner. We invited Buzz to go along, and he said yes! Actually, it was a pretty interesting group in general. There was Phil, my cowork Tommy, me, Jeff, Jaisha, and the two French interns, but also Buzz Aldrin, Laurie (who is the #2 ranking person at NASA), an official from the white house, and the French attache. I ended up sitting next to Buzz Aldrin and across from Laurie, which was definitely an interesting place to be. I got the chance to talk to both of them quite a bit.

I bought Buzz's drink, so I can tell you that his drink of choice is a sugar-free Red Bull mixed with cranberry juice. We chatted about a wide range of topics. We talked about Yuri's night (April 12th, the day the first human, Yuri Gagarin, went into space is a big space-holiday) said he didn't understand why Americans would want to celebrate the first Russian going into space. I suggested that it wasn't because he was Russian, but it was just because he was the first human, and we're all human. Buzz said 'that's communist.' (Though I think he was being sarcastic, maybe.) In any case, he thinks that instead of celebrating Yuri's night, we should be celebrating Yuri's, and Al's (Alan Shepard, first American in space), and John's (John Glenn, first American to orbit the Earth) night.

Jaisha asked him about being on Dancing with the Stars, and he told us that he went to the most recent finale and talked to Sarah Palin. He told her he likes Alaska. I also asked him about his appearance on 30 Rock, and whether he watches the show. He said that when he first read the script for the episode, he thought it was really stupid, but he figured they were paying him, so he'd do it. But then when he actually watched the episode he thought it was hilarious. (In 30 Rock, the main character, Liz Lemon, always talks about her perfect, imaginary boyfriend: Astronaut Mike Dexter. In one episode she finds out that her mom actually dated an astronaut at one point, but then broke up with him and met her dad. Then she finds out that the astronaut her mom dated was Buzz Aldrin. In the episode she meets Buzz Aldrin, and he tells her that her mom made the right choice, etc.) He also told me that the show wasn't aware of it, but actually his dad had worked at 30 Rockefeller Center (where the show takes place).

Other random things I learned about Buzz Aldrin: He has a bracelet made of clear skulls that have red, white, and blue eyes, which he apparently got from a Chinese person, and it's supposed to be good luck (or keep away evil, or something). He also wears a lot of jewelry, including a star and crescent ring and two watches. And he has two cell phones, including an iPhone.

And he gave me his business card. Which is pretty cool.



We stayed at the bar until around midnight before everybody headed out. Buzz is off to Atlanta and then to Qatar, so we probably won't see him at any more Christmas parties in DC this year!

We were chatting about the whole experience the next day, and one of my co-workers made an interesting point. There are lots of celebrities, but as one of the first people on the moon, Buzz Aldrin is probably one of the only people alive today whose name will be familiar to people in 100 or 200 years. It's like going to the bar with Christopher Columbus!

1 comment:

graduatedlearning said...

Mariel! That is so incredibly cool!!

Did you talk about MIT at all? He got is Doctor of Science there.

Anyway, wow, I'm so jealous, that is so amazing! I do wonder if the communist comment was sarcastic or serious...but you should definitely have more "nights" to celebrate people going into space!