When the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the lunar surface the last thing they expected to find was that the moon was made of green cheese.
But that's precisely what they did find.
It was Neil Armstrong who first discovered this amazing fact. Picking up a small moon rock he discovered that it was both crumbly and, when examined closely, had a faint greenish tinge. He took it back to the lunar module where he and "Buzz" Aldrin examined it.
'Tell me I'm not seeing things, Buzz. It looks just like green cheese, right?'
Buzz put the lump up to his nose and sniffed. 'Smells like it as well,' he said.
At first they thought that this was some kind of hallucination. Before going out they'd had breakfast, so maybe some joker had spiked some of the drinks with LSD. It certainly couldn't have been the moon's atmosphere because there wasn't one. And they were well protected in their space suits. Maybe it was their oxygen. But everything else seemed perfectly normal...apart from the strange moon rock Buzz was holding. There was a silence as the two men tried to digest the impossible fact that the moon might, indeed, be made of green cheese. Then they realised there was something else they had to digest.
'Who's going to do it?' asked Neil.
'No way!' cried Buzz. 'That stuff might be lethal. Even if it is green cheese, just think how old it is.'
'Yeah,' said Neil. 'But it's in a vacuum. It'll be preserved.
The discussion continued for some time. As mission commander, Neil could have ordered Buzz to taste the moon rock. But he didn't. Collins in the module called over the radio wondering if they were okay so Neil told him they were conducting a delicate scientific experiment. Eventually, Neil decided that someone just had to taste it and he wasn't going to let Buzz risk his life. So he put a piece of the "rock" in his mouth and chewed it. Buzz looked at him in horror.
'Well?' asked Buzz.
'Holy shit!' cried Neil. 'It is cheese.'
They pondered this for a moment. Then Buzz shrugged. 'Okay, but that doesn't mean the whole moon is made of it. Maybe someone dropped that piece.'
'Yeah, sure,' Neil snickered. 'Maybe a bunch of alien picnickers were on here. Or maybe it's those moon creatures HG Wells wrote about.'
'Or maybe the Russians got here first.'
Neil shook his head. 'Russians don't eat green cheese. They eat caviar.'
'Then we need to check,' said Buzz.
And check they did. Only to end up having their worst fears confirmed. Inspecting the landscape around the module they found that other pieces of moon rock were also made of green cheese. And that the moon dust was green cheese that had been finely grated. The discovery seemed to make them go light-headed. Buzz joked they could have spaghetti and sprinkle the stuff over the top.
'Or Lasagna,' said Neil. 'Okay, it's not Parmesan cheese, but we're not in Luigi's Restaurant we're on the fucking moon, right?'
They began to laugh hysterically. Finally they had to hyperventilate to regain control.
It was Buzz who brought it up. 'So what do we tell Mission Control?
'We tell them nothing,' said Neil. 'We tell them everything's fine and dandy and take some of those moon rocks back. Let them figure it out.'
So that's what they did. And NASA's first - and perfectly natural - reaction was to accuse the crew of Apollo 11 of playing a practical joke. But Neil asked them where else could they have gotten that green cheese from? Maybe they sneaked it aboard before take off, replied NASA. Then they sent the men for psychiatric evaluation. Meanwhile, the media were told the mission had been a major success but that, for technical reasons, the astronauts had been unable to bring any samples back with them. Yes, it was very disappointing but it was just one of those things. Meanwhile, back at the laboratory, the "lunar" samples were carbon dated just to prove that this was all a hoax. A sick joke perpetrated by some pretty sick astronauts. Who should either be confined to a mental institution or placed in front of a firing squad. Only to discover to their utter dismay that this green cheese was over 40-billion years old! The tests were done again. With the same result. The equipment was thoroughly checked. It was working perfectly.
Confronted by this evidence, the scientists locked themselves away and tried to come up with some sort of rational explanation. Because no one wanted to go to J. F. Kennedy and say, 'Mister President. The moon is made of green cheese.' But, try as they might, there was only one explanation and it was proving a difficult one to accept. Finally, the leading scientist stood up.
'Ladies and Gentlemen,' he said. 'We must face the facts, no matter how incredible they may seem. Let's just pray there are no other surprises in store for us.'
At this point a timid voice was heard from the far end of the table. 'If the moon's made of green cheese, sir, then what's the earth made of?'