Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Second Man on the Moon

This profile of Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, is really overblown and annoying but I still found it interesting:
After the moon, Buzz cracked up. There was nothing left to do. The media frenzy was worldwide; twenty-four countries in forty-five days—and that was just the beginning. NASA clearly had no further use for him in space; now he was just supposed to be some kind of NASA PR flack. He resigned from NASA in 1971 and returned to the Air Force. It didn't seem like the Air Force knew what to do with someone who had been to the moon. He was an outsider, the egghead from academia who'd just tumbled off the speakers' circuit. He drank a lot. His marriage to the mother of his three children fell apart, and he retired from the Air Force. He went to rehab. He got married again, but that lasted a year. He drank a lot more, fell in love a lot more. His Air Force pension wasn't much. That was when he started at the Cadillac dealership. He sucked at selling cars. Rehab was the first time he ever really talked about feelings. It turned out he had so many feelings. An emptiness so deep. He discovered the melancholy of all things done.

He was in his forties, a conqueror with nothing left to conquer but his own demons. The second man to walk on the moon. Number two.
Aldrin has been such a mess for so long and has told so many stories about himself that you shouldn't believe everything he says, for example about his father and his ex-wives. And of course one of the most interesting things about Aldrin's story is that most of the other astronauts did not crack up after their careers in space were over. It's not a story so much about what happens after you go to the moon, as how some people just never change. You might think that going to the moon would change you, but Buzz Aldrin went to the moon and came back to the same craziness he left behind. Since both his mother and her father committed suicide, it may be that he came back to the same craziness that had been in his family for generations.

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