Last year, I wrote an article entitled Little Miss Magpie. It told of how, as a writer, I collect characters, based on people I have met during the course of my day-to-day life. In the piece, I referenced another article of mine, Doctor Who and the Epitome of Exaggeration, in which I explained that, again as a writer, overheard conversations can be like gold dust and provide the key to entertaining or hilarious dialogue.
Another good source of material for a writer are urban legends. Whilst most of these tales revolve around trying to scare the pants off people, there are a few that are not only amusing, but downright hilarious. One such story is that of Neil Armstrong and Mr. Gorsky.
The story goes that when Apollo 11 Mission Astronaut, Neil Armstrong, set foot on the surface of the moon, the world heard him utter those now famous words. “It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” This was followed by several remarks – nothing remarkable, just usual communication traffic between his fellow astronauts and himself and Mission Control. However, just before re-entering the Moon Lander, he was heard to say, “Good luck, Mr. Gorsky.”
NASA thought this casual, but nonetheless apocryphal remark concerned perhaps a rival Soviet Cosmonaut, yet several checks showed no one of the name Gorsky as working for either the Soviets or NASA. Over the years, many people questioned Armstrong as to what exactly he meant by his words, with some even going so far as to suggest that it was code for some wild conspiracy theory. Each time he was asked, however, Neil Armstrong would simply smile.
Then, on July 5, 1995, while visiting Tampa Bay, Florida, a reporter once again asked Armstrong the now 26-year-old question. “What did you mean by Good luck, Mr. Gorsky?” This time, Neil Armstrong responded by saying that Mr. Gorsky had passed away, and so he felt he could now answer the question. He then went on to explain that when he was a kid, he and a friend were playing baseball in the yard, when his friend hit a fly ball which landed in his next door neighbour’s yard. His neighbours were Mr and Mrs Gorsky. Climbing over the fence, Neil Armstrong could hear raised voices coming from the Gorsky house. As he bent down to pick up his baseball, he overheard Mrs Gorsky shout, “Sex! You want sex?! I’ll give you sex when the kid next door walks on the moon!”
Though long since debunked as nothing more than an urban legend, it nevertheless never fails to make me smile. After all, as Mark Twain once said, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”