Over the hedge

In a pink chenille robe, face to face with history

ONE spring 35 years ago, the doorbell rang at 9 p.m. My first thought was to ignore it, but repeated rings made me open the front door.

"Hi," the voice said on the other side. "I've brought back what I borrowed earlier today."

There I stood, eight months pregnant in my worn pink chenille robe with my hair in curlers.

When this man had come to our home that morning, I was on my knees, planting ground cover on a slope in our new yard.

We had just moved into a new subdivision in southern California, and I felt I should be neighborly to this stranger who politely asked to borrow bag of charcoal.

"I'll bring back a new bag later on," he assured me.

As I smiled at the handsome stranger, I noticed that the words "Apollo 11" were emblazoned on his cap, but didn't think more about it.

Now, here he was again.

"You didn't have to bring it back so soon," I said.

"That's OK," he said, smiling. "I felt like I inconvenienced you earlier, and I wanted to say thanks for helping us out."

As he turned to go, I asked, "Why does your cap say Apollo 11?"

"Well, it's because I work for NASA."

I peered closer at him. "The cap says Aldrin. What's your first name?"

"Edwin, but most people call me Buzz."

"Buzz – Buzz Aldrin, like the second-man-on-the-moon Aldrin?" I stammered.

"Sure," he said.

He gave me a charming smile and left me standing at the door pondering how a bag of charcoal brought astronaut Buzz Aldrin to my door.

The bag disappeared long ago, but if I still had it, I wonder if I would be tempted to place it on eBay.

On second thought, my moment of history couldn't be auctioned off at any price.

Geraldine Birch

New York

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