Secret Pop

Nov 21, 2002

Forgotten in the flames

I never even knew that Gus Grissom had died in a launchpad fire until I heard the news about his widow's tiff with NASA over the ownership of his suit. What's wrong with me? Where was I? I remember exactly where I was when I saw the Challenger explosion. I actually get choked up just thinking about it. A few years ago, in a class, there was a video about the investigations and inquiries following Challenger, and Richard Feynman (a personal hero of mine) was shown breaking through what my dad would call "the mumbo jumbo" to explain what really happened with those blasted O rings. I remember having difficulty keeping my emotions in check just watching the video. It's still so vivid in my memory. I guess I used to dream about going up into space. Maybe Challenger did a little damage to that dream. That, and the realization that those jumpsuits they all have to wear are never very flattering to a woman's shape.

I miss Richard Feynman. I wish I could have met him. I met Carl Sagan, but that didn't make up for it. I lent my copy of Surely, You're Joking, Mr. Feynman to my high school physics teacher, who was also my debate coach and a general pal, and he ended up reading it in the bath and getting the lower half of the book all swollen and ripply with water. I don't know if I was more disappointed about the condition of the book or the idea of my teacher in the bathtub with it. Oh, how I long for the cares of my adolescence.

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