A post at Topless Robot about the Top 20 Nerd Commandments plucked a painful memory for me. Specifically, this commandment:
5) All nerds must be able to sketch, from memory, the basic outlines of the Millennium Falcon, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), and the TARDIS.
Yes, I drew the TARDIS as my big project for a High School art class. Sadly embarrassing in retrospect.
But then there was the embarrassment of doing something similar on NATIONAL TV.
In 1988, I appeared on the game show Win, Lose or Draw. Midway through the game, it was my turn to draw and I was shown my phrase: Beam Me Up, Scotty. As a lifelong Star Trek nerd, it felt like some kind of strange providence. But in my nerdliness, I could not figure out how to parse up the phrase into chunks that the “celebrities” could then guess. So I started drawing what I thought was a passable Enterprise, hoping the celebrities would get the Trek reference and start throwing out catch phrases.
Last fall I sat in on a six week memoir writing class. We’d be given a couple of topics during class time and just do some free writing for 15 minutes on that topic.
One of the first exercises we did involved first making a list of five wisdom figures, people who’ve assisted us in our quest for meaning, who’ve helped shape our core values. I scratched out a list with a little difficulty and picked one of them to write on. Here it is.
Okay, so he’s got pointy ears. So what? Big deal. Yes, he’s from another planet. Yes, he lacks emotions. Yes, he’s fictional. But Spock is there, in my memory, in my views of the world, in the views of my own life. He stands there erect, hands clasped behind his back in an “at ease” position that I still mimic to this day. Every Sunday as I recite the Apostle’s Creed, I’m standing straight and still like Spock.He’s loyal. Rational. Yes, I have to say it, he’s logical. He appreciates the scientific method. and while he maintains a cool reserve, we all know that underneath he’s got a seething cauldron of raw feelings boiling away, kept under control by a single upturned eyebrow and a healthy curiosity about all things new. Puzzles are a challenge, a way to learn something new. And while he’s been known to throw a punch or two in his time, he mostly handles conflict with a zen-like detachment, coolly pinching an opponent’s shoulder, dropping the villain instantly into a cold, deep sleep. He’s a stranger amidst a crew of irrational humans, trying to understand the foreign language of emotional responses.
Continue reading “Spock Thoughts”
There’s one spaceship that remains my favorite, even after all these decades. I first encountered it in second grade, watching Star Trek reruns after school (while also filling up on Gilligan, Brady Bunch, Lost in Space and others). There was just something wonderfully sleek, futuristic and functional about the design. There were no pretensions to being something that lands on a planet and needs wings nor was it just a cheesy rocket. The Enterprise is unique and I wanted to be on that ship with Capt. Kirk and pals.
When the ship got redesigned for the first movie, I loved it even more. Clean lines, somehow even more realistic and just beautiful. Why you’d need running lights in space, I’ll never know, but it sure looks cool.
So in the second movie, (spoiler alert) Spock dies. Yeah, bummer, but what a great movie! Then in the third movie (spoiler alert) the Enterprise died.
That’s when I cried. The Enterprise seemed like it had always been part of my life. I owned numerous models of it over the years, a whole fleet to fuel my imagination.
Sometimes it seems like Star Trek guided my entire life. It ebbs and flows from my memories, oozing out of my childhood and spurting in fits and starts through college and even affecting my marriage. It’s like a big box around my existence. Sometimes I can touch the edges, sometimes they remain out of sight. But it’s always there.
And before you ask: Kirk. Definitely Kirk. Always Kirk.
Now, to be a bit more clear, while Star Trek definitely weaves a web through my existence, I am not one of these guys. Sure, I spotted right away the “wrong” placement of certain figures on this cake, I’ll admit that. But it didn’t bother me. Well, not enough to say anything out loud.