Monday, July 20, 2009

Thoughts on Apollo 11 @ 40

Forty years ago today, Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin walked on the surface of the moon for 2½ hours. Those 2½ hours changed the lives of both men and, of course, mankind.

This event occurred three years before I was born. I'm part of the generation that saw the first launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia. However, I remember the landing better. It took place on April 14, 1981 at 1:20 EST. I remember this because it was my Dad's 40th birthday. There was a time when we would watch every single Shuttle launch and landing and record it on the school's Beta Max.

When I think of Apollo 11 and the moon landing I think of Bob Costas and Marilu Henner. Why them? I'll explain. But a word of warning. The story is a wee bit bawdy. Yet I think you will find it amusing just the same.

Costas used to host a show on NBC called Later. I enjoyed the show because it had no band or audience. It was just Costas one on one with a guest for an entire hour. I had been exposed to Costas as a result of his work in baseball on NBC's Game of the Week.

One night he interviewed actress Marilu Henner. Of course, she is best known for playing Elaine Nardo on Taxi - one of my favorite TV shows ever. By this time she was on Evening Shade with Burt Reynolds.

Henner apparently has the uncanny ability to remember what she was doing on every day of her life. Costas, however, was skepitcal of Henner's claim and decides to test her. He picks out a random date - July 20, 1969. The day of Armstrong and Aldrin took one small step for man. But Henner becomes flummoxed and flustered and demands to know if someone put him up to mentioning that date. Now Costas is perplexed.

Long story short. It turns out while Apollo 11 was landing Henner was being taken to new heights. It was the night she lost her virginity. But here's the best part of the story. Without missing a beat Costas retorts, "At least we know Neil Armstrong wasn't the culprit."

That interview must have taken place about twenty years ago. I still find it funny now.

I should mention that I met Marilu Henner at Macy's here in Boston almost a decade ago. But that's a story for another day.

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