The worst thing you can be at something is second. It doesn´t really matter if it´s the 100 meter sprint at the Olympics or a trip to the Moon. Just ask Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. This American astronaut was the second person ever to take a walk out there but everybody mostly remembers the legendary words from Neil Armstrong: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. After that Aldrin’s footprints on the Moon’s soil of course seemed not nearly as important. Ironically he gained nearly as much fame by following the 12 step program of the Anonymous Alcoholics. Of course we’re sorry we lost this hero to sobriety but he will always remain the first drunkard on the Moon.
Buzz Aldrin (1930) had his finest hour of course in 1969 when he became the second human being in history to walk on the Moon. Although we think he and his companion Neil Armstrong were sober at the time, there is some evidence that suggests otherwise. For example the fact that Aldrin’s first act on the Moon was pissing his space suit. And that famous first quote on the Moon by Armstrong could just as well be a drunk man talking. As where Man and mankind in this context mean exactly the same. Would he have said “one small step for a man”, the quote would have made sense. Aldrin also said in interviews that he ‘forgot’ to take a picture when lifting up from the Moon and back to Earth and this is something he regretted for the rest of his life. But okay, let’s asume the crew was sober and just a little nervous and overwelmed on the Moon.
Back on Earth however this was slightly different for Aldrin, who lived up to his nickname and kept a constant buzz going. When he left NASA in 1971 he wanted to pick up his military career again, but that stranded a year later. From that point Aldrin started to drink even more. Some say he reached for the bottle because he couldn’t deal with the fame and publicity after his space adventure. Himself he claims that it was the early retirement from the U.S. Air Force and the painful divorce from his first wife Jean Ann Archer. A nice anecdote is when a movie director wanted to let Aldrin star in a film. They met at a bar, but got drunk before any contract was signed. They agreed to meet again the next day. Buzz got to the bar early at 12 pm, a solid 5 hours before the others. When they walked into the bar the former astronaut was already plowed again.
In 1978 Aldrin was forced by his fiancé Beverly Zile to give up his favorite hobby. When she told him to get rid of all his alcohol, he rejected of course. Sadly she went behind his back and threw away all bottles herself. Aldrin was more or less forced into rehab and has been clean ever since. Zile became his second wife but of course there was no ‘happily ever after’ in this marriage after she forced him to quit drinking. In 2011 he completed his divorce hattrick by leaving Lois Cannon. Since Aldrin claims he hasn’t had a drink since 1978 we can’t blame alcohol for his misfortune in relationships, a comforting thought. We like to remember the Buzz Aldrin as the hero he was, the first major drunk on the Moon.