I’d forgotten about my reverence for Carl Sagan until my daughter played a mash-up video for me. I think I’d seen the video before, but her excitement about Carl Sagan brought back memories of my excitement about the man.
I must have liked his series, Cosmos, or something. I don’t remember why I liked him so much. It might have been because I was teaching science at the time and especially liked astronomy. I don’t even remember what decade it was, although the 1980’s is a safe bet. It could have been the 1990’s but I don’t remember having kids when he was my hero.
Anyway, whenever it was, I thought he was a demi-god and when I heard he was going to be at an event on the Mall, I made sure we went too. The event was commemorating the 1963 march on Washington — one of the half-decade anniversaries — probably the 25th because we would have had both Clare and Andrew by the 30th anniversary.
I had pretty high expectations back then. I assumed that since Carl Sagan was going to be on the Washington Mall, I would see him. He may have talked, I don’t know. Probably. He was famous and all. We’d planned on meeting up with friends but, in the days before cell phones, never connected. There were a heck of a lot of people there.
While listening to one speaker I looked up and realized I was standing next to Betty Thomas. And when I say up I mean UP. She is very tall. (Since Hill Street Blues ended in 1987, I’m more and more sure this event was in the 1980’s). Betty took no notice of me, but I felt like this was really an event since she was just part of the crowd.
Later, Dean and I walked around. I politely took, and mistakenly looked at, a pamphlet from someone who was part of an organization I’d not heard of: PETA. No more meat for me until 1990 when I became pregnant with Clare.
We continued walking and saw a crowd of people ahead. As we got closer, I saw that the crowd was gathered around a dark haired man. As we got even closer I realized it was Carl Sagan. I stood on the outskirts of the crowd, wanting to tell him of my admiration, but being too afraid. He smiled and walked and talked with the crowd. I looked away and began walking — perhaps trying to find Dean or maybe just following him. I looked down at the ground — it was crowded. I didn’t want to fall. I bumped into someone. Looking up I saw I’d bumped into Carl Sagan. I muttered my apologies and ran away, heart beating faster than it probably should.
So, that’s the story of Carl and me.
Here’s the mash-up video if you have not seen it (I later fell in love with Bill Nye):