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The Straight Dope



I was E-mailed the following story. Is there any way you could confirm this?

"When Apollo mission astronaut Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, he not only gave his famous "one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind' statement, but followed it by several remarks--[mostly the] usual COM traffic between him, the other astronauts, and mission control. Before he reentered the lander, he made the enigmatic remark, "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky.'

"Many people at NASA thought it was a casual remark concerning some rival Soviet cosmonaut. However, upon checking, there was no Gorsky in either the Russian or American space programs.

"Over the years many people have questioned [Armstrong] as to what the "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky' statement meant. On July 5, in Tampa Bay, Florida, while answering questions following a speech, a reporter brought up the 26-year-old question to Armstrong. He finally responded. It seems that Mr. Gorsky had died and so Armstrong felt he could answer the question.

"When he was a kid Neil was playing baseball with his brother in the backyard. His brother hit a fly ball which landed in front of his neighbors' bedroom window. The neighbors were Mr. and Mrs. Gorsky. As he leaned down to pick up the ball, he heard Mrs. Gorsky shouting at Mr. Gorsky, "Oral sex? Oral sex you want? You'll get oral sex when the kid next door walks on the moon!'" --Ted Maas, via the Internet

I couldn't reach Neil Armstrong, not that I killed myself trying. However, NASA denied this story categorically and, I might say, somewhat huffily. (The guy didn't so much as chuckle when I read it to him. Whatsamatter, nobody appreciates a good blow-job joke anymore?) Finally, not that it proves anything, this apparently first showed up on the Internet on rec.humor. But I personally believe every word, dangling participles and all.


Regarding my November 3 column on the Social Register, Gregory Nigosian refers me to geographer Stephen Richard Higley's recent book Privilege, Power, and Place: The Geography of the American Upper Class, which maps out where rich folks live based on their listings in the 1988 SR. Great book, not least because it explains what "dilatory domiciles" means: listings that the listees turned in too late to make it into the main book (DDs appear in the summer supplement), along with changes of address.

Higley confirms what everybody suspected: the SR is heavily skewed toward old money and the east coast. The seaboard states from Maine to Virginia account for two-thirds of the listings, with nearly one-third located in just two states, New York (5,838) and Pennsylvania (4,200). New money is grossly underrepresented. California has 2,517 SR households, fewer than Massachusetts (3,231), although it has five times the population. Texas has just 424 SR families (it is hard to imagine Ross Perot at the polo club, although the '94 book lists several other Perots). At the bottom of the list is North Dakota with one SR family, no doubt the toast of Fargo.

Higley does not have much useful advice on how you can get into the SR. (Evidently you can just apply, like you can probably just apply to be pope.) But he does point out that it's pretty easy to get kicked out. There were 38,000 families in the 1984 book, but a great purge the following year reduced that number by 3,500, and more have hit the road since. Sad evidence of this comes from H.M., an SR listee from Chicago. H., who according to his listing is actually H. the third, got in because his mother's side married into a Mayflower family. But his four sisters were delisted because they married members of the steerage crowd, thereby diluting the gene pool. H.'s mom thinks he'll get the boot too once he marries his sweetie, whom H. rather ungallantly describes as NOKD--"not our kind, dear." If he doesn't, though, we might begin to see a suspicious pattern, know what I mean? We hope H. will keep us informed.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Slug Signorino.

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