Not My Job: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin On Getting Mooned
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where we reward a lifetime of preparation with a quiz that you simply cannot prepare for. You know that Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon. But that guy in all the pictures from the first moon landing? That's Buzz Aldrin. So here's a lesson for you all: it doesn't matter if you're the first guy out of the spaceship just as long as you make the other guy hold the camera.
SAGAL: Buzz Aldrin was the second human being to stand on the surface of the moon. We are so honored to welcome him to WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Hello, Buzz, how are you?
BUZZ ALDRIN: I'm fine. I'm fine, thanks.
SAGAL: I'm glad to hear it. So we just - I mean, obviously we want to start by talking to you about that experience coming - you know, it's 1969, landing on the moon with Neil Armstrong. You stepped onto the lunar surface, second human being in the history to do so. What was the first thing you did when you set foot on the moon?
ALDRIN: Well, I've told some people this, but we had just prepared for a longer stay, so we had emptied out the urine bags that we had around our waist.
ALDRIN: And so I felt pretty confident in relieving myself, since I had the urge.
SAGAL: Sure. So the first thing you did...
BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: On the moon...
SAGAL: ...was have a tinkle?
ALDRIN: Pretty close to that.
SAGAL: No, no. So I have to ask you about this because this was a famous thing. You and some of the other Apollo astronauts have been dogged by these people who are convinced that you faked it somehow. And there's a famous video of you actually being sort of entrapped by one of these guys. Can you tell us what happened?
ALDRIN: Well, he wanted me to sign his big Bible and swear on it that we did go to the moon or we didn't go to the moon. I wasn't sure what he really wanted. But when I refused to do this because he was just playing around, he started calling me a liar and a cheat. I didn't really care for that.
ALDRIN: So we went back and talked about it a little bit, and I looked for the right moment, and I popped him one in the jaw.
SAGAL: I mean, I've seen this video, and I always assumed it was an act of passion, for which I will not blame you that you just, like, punched this guy. But you actually said to yourself: I'm going to punch him in the jaw as soon as I get a moment? OK, now.
ALDRIN: No, no, it was a lot more instantaneous urge to do that.
SAGAL: Yeah, I can imagine.
ALDRIN: He just kind of pissed me off.
LUKE BURBANK: Do you know, Mr. Aldrin, do you know if this man you punched, if he filled his urine bag?
SAGAL: Now, what's interesting is you - one of the dozen men who've walked on the surface of the moon, and according to your new book, you're in no particular hurry to go back?
ALDRIN: Who says that?
SAGAL: Well, I thought you did.
ALDRIN: Oh, you mean to go back to the moon?
ALDRIN: Well, no, I've done that once. Why would anyone want do that again?
SAGAL: But one of the things that you're - I've notice you're a fan of in your plan in your book is you actually like the idea of space tourism.
ALDRIN: Well, I do because that gets the interest of the public up so that they're paying attention to things that take a long time to develop. They're...
SAGAL: But won't - go ahead.
ALDRIN: There are a lot of people that evidently want to do that.
SAGAL: Won't space, though, get ruined with all the tourists?
ALDRIN: I don't think so. There are a lot of people that get interested in something, and they hear about it, and they read about it, and then they watch it happen, and that's why I had quite an interest in the lottery because you'd interest a lot of people, and then just a few would win a chance to do something.
But the Unilever company Axe has come up with a scheme where they acquired 22 flights in a suborbital company called XCore, and they've distributed those internationally to thousands of people.
SAGAL: So you're telling me...
FAITH SALIE: Axe the body wash?
ALDRIN: That's right.
SAGAL: That the next step in our exploration of space will be led by Axe body spray. Have you ever - Buzz, you're going to - have you ever met anybody who would knowingly buy and use Axe body spray? And are these the kids we want to be sending into space?
SAGAL: You think?
ALDRIN: Yeah, a lot of people are familiar with it, sure. They like for it to attract young ladies to them.
SAGAL: You realize that they're going to get up there, and they're going to try to open the window so they can wave back. You know that, right?
ALDRIN: Well, they may try to do that. That probably wouldn't be a good idea. (Unintelligible)
SAGAL: Well, Buzz Aldrin, we are honored to talk to you, and we've asked you here to play a game we're calling...
BILL KURTIS: Drop Your Pants and Take A Bow.
SAGAL: You've been to the moon, and we believe you when you say that, but what do you know about mooning?
SAGAL: We're going to ask you three questions about exposing one's buttocks for entertainment or political purposes. If you get two right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, Carl Kasell's voice on their home answering device, whatever it may be. Bill, who is astronaut Buzz Aldrin playing for?
KURTIS: Valerie Williams of Gorham, Maine.
SAGAL: All right, Buzz, you ready to do this?
ALDRIN: I'll give it a try.
SAGAL: OK. The first recorded instance, recorded instance, of mooning happened when: A, the year 1120, when 40,000 Chinese warriors mooned their enemies in perfect unison.
SAGAL: B, the year 1460, when the French crown prince responded to an offer of marriage he did not favor; or C, the year 80 A.D., when a Roman soldier in Rome did as Romans had never done before?
ALDRIN: I think it was the Roman soldier that wanted to do something that had never been done before.
SAGAL: You are right.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: It was the Roman soldier, 80 A.D. According to the historian Josephus Flavius, the Roman soldier mooned a Jewish pilgrim. The other pilgrims got upset, and a riot ensued.
SAGAL: Next question, that was very good. Sometimes mooning is a terrible idea, as in which of these incidents: A, when a protester at President Nixon's inauguration passed gas at the wrong moment and was charged with trying to poison the president.
SAGAL: B, when defenders at the medieval battle of Crecy mooned the British and forgot about the archers.
SAGAL: Or C, when scientists at the South Pole posed for a group moon shot, and four ended up with frostbite.
ALDRIN: I would think that the folks at the South Pole did a pretty stupid thing.
ALDRIN: I'm not surprised that they got a little frostbite.
SAGAL: So you're going to go for the scientists at the South Pole?
ALDRIN: I think so. Why not?
SAGAL: No, actually the answer was B, the great arrows in the butt incident at the Battle of Crecy. That was recreated, kind of, in the movie "Braveheart," you may remember.
All right, this is your last question. One of the great mooning performances of all time took place in October, 2011, when what happened? A, the entire MIT football team arranged themselves so their bare buttocks spelled out the symbol for PI, as seen from above.
SAGAL: B, when a protester ran pantsless alongside Queen Elizabeth's motorcade, clutching an Australian flag in his buttocks for 50 meters.
SAGAL: Or C, Pennsylvania High School Debate Team's reenactment of the Lincoln-Douglas debates went quite differently than the original?
ALDRIN: I'd have to go for the Stephen Douglas debates going differently.
SAGAL: I do like that idea. So the idea is that they staged the Lincoln-Douglas debate, and instead of eloquent discussions of the problem of slavery, they just turned their backs to each other and lowered their pantaloons and said aha.
ALDRIN: Yeah, that sounds like high school kids, what they'd do.
SAGAL: I would believe you, but sadly it was in fact B, the protester who ran for 50 meters next to Queen Elizabeth's car in Australia clutching the Australian flag in his buttocks.
ALDRIN: You can't run that far with a flag between your buttocks.
SALIE: Have you tried?
SAGAL: Have you tried?
BURBANK: That was the first place for the flag on the moon.
SAGAL: Bill, how did Buzz Aldrin do on our quiz?
KURTIS: You know, I think we should give Buzz all three, don't you?
SAGAL: Who am I to argue?
ALDRIN: Yeah, I'm all for that.
SAGAL: Buzz Aldrin, of course, is one of the 12 human beings to walk on the moon. His new book, his program for future of space exploration, is called "Mission to Mars." Buzz Aldrin, thank you so much for joining us. What an honor to talk to you.
ALDRIN: Thank you very much. It's been a pile of laughs.
SAGAL: It really have.
KURTIS: Thank you, Buzz. You've been great.
SAGAL: Thank you so much.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.