I thought that my summer had already peaked when I got to ride on a Segway last week; I was so wrong. Today I had lunch with John Glenn and his wife. That's right: first American astronaut to orbit the Earth John Glenn, Senator (who ran for president in 1984 but didn't make it past the Democratic primaries) John Glenn, the very same. It wasn't a huge anonymous assembly-style meeting (though that would come later in the day), either. It was an intimate 5-students plus John and Annie Glenn lunch around a very shiny table in a very swanky conference room.
Though I don't need to tell you, here are some (lesser-known) reasons why John Glenn is awesome:
-Even though his name is plastered everywhere around this neck-of-the-woods, he still finds it startling and unnecessary. He tried to argue them out of renaming Lewis Field to Glenn Research Center. (Though even his negotiating skills as a politician couldn't curb the enthusiasm of the hordes of people who look up to him.)
-He extremely passionate about education. Someone asked him what work from his time in the senate he's most proud of, and he said nuclear non-proliferation legislation, voting in support of every bill favoring educational funding, and pushing towards improving communication with China.
-He and his wife met when they were 2 years old. It's implicit to an observer that they can communicate clearly and completely without even speaking. When he was offered a chance to return to space on the shuttle in 1998, he wanted his wife to accompany him so they could be a husband and wife astronaut team. Annie Glenn said she'd love to go to space, but would never be willing to go through lift-off or re-entry. Nonetheless, she went to most of his "astronaut classes" with him.
-Before John Glenn's flight, no one really knew what would happen to humans in microgravity. They thought that maybe vision would fail, debilitating nausea would ensue, and they didn't know whether it would be possible to eat. John Glenn said that he wasn’t worried about swallowing, though, because when he was a kid he and his friends stood on their heads to find out if they could drink water “up hill.”
I guess being in the Glenn Academy does have some perks, after all...