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My Star Trek Memories

 One of my very earliest memories is watching Star Trek with my dad. I must have been 3 or 4, it was before I had started school. This would have been some time in 1979 most likely, after Trek had gained it's second life via syndication. The episode was The Squire of Gothos. My dad fell asleep on the couch while we watched. But it started a life long love of both science fiction and Star Trek in particular with me. I remember immediately after the episode ended, I ran out to the front yard, picked up a stick and re-enacted the sword fight scene with a nearby tree. I watched the show any time it was on from that point forward. 

Another memory of "playing Star Trek" that happened a few years later involved me draping a red shirt over a lamp to create a red alert. The lamp burned a hole in the shirt, and my mother was less than pleased with me. That didn't keep her from buying me my very own Star Trek uniform shirt though. I got blue because Spock was my favorite character. I don't know where she got it, but I am certain it was not an officially licensed piece. It had short sleeves, and it was, well, fuzzy for lack of a better term. It was almost like a short sleeved sweater. But it had the Enterprise insignia on the left breast, and it was the right shade of blue, so I loved it. I wore it to school at least once a week until I outgrew it. 

I didn't know about Star Trek the Motion Picture until many years later. I finally saw it on VHS when they released the long director's cut. But my parents did take me to see Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. This is the very first movie I remember seeing in the theater. Well, in a real theater. I do remember going to the drive-in to see Popeye before this. But it's not really the same experience. This movie is the one that began my lifelong love affair with going to the movies. Luckily for me the experience after the movie didn't spoil it. See, my dad made fun of me for crying when Spock died. Remember, I was a couple of months away from turning 7. Much later in life my dad would remark about Star Trek that he couldn't believe he ever watched that stupid show, which was a little upsetting because it was a good memory I had of him nestled among some not so good ones.

Wrath of Khan would not be my final Trek movie experience, as I would see every Trek movie in the theater (with the exception of Star Trek Beyond, which I did catch on video and enjoyed). I saw the rest of the original cast movies with my cousin, who was my best friend at the time. Mental illness and drugs ended up causing him to drift away from me over the years, and now the only times I see him are at funerals. He will almost certainly be coming up in future posts. I saw Generations in a theater that was completely empty save for me and the two friends who went with me. I saw a couple of the Next Generation movies with my ex-wife while we were married (one of the few things we agreed on was that First Contact was a great fucking movie.)

Speaking of Next Generation, that was a show it took me decades to watch. I had seen bits of the occasional episode when someone else was watching it and I was around, but I actively avoided it. This may seem odd from someone who loved the original series so often and had read dozens of novels and comic books from the franchise. The reason was, the build-up for the show clashed with the actual show in such a way that it kind of ruined it for me for a long time. They talked about how the special effects were going to be so much better, when the early attempts at cgi actually didn't look as good as the models from the 60's. They also talked about how the new show was going to be so much more science based, and not have the unexplainable omnipotent beings from the original show. Then the first episode featured Q. I did finally watch the entire run of the show recently, and it was good (after you get past the kind of boring first season). It doesn't come close to holding the place in my heart that the original Trek does, and never could.

Trek is something I have tried to pass along to friends, partners and my kids, and no one ever gets it. People are just naturally Trekkies or they are not, you can't convert them. (I am old enough that I embrace and relish the term Trekkie, seeing it as a badge of honor and not as a slight.) As mentioned before, I have read not just the novels, but the memoirs and behind the scenes books. I have listened to director's commentaries on the movies. I have watched tributes like Galaxy Quest and The Orville. I have seen most (I don't have as much time to keep up these days) of the new spin offs. But nothing gives the the warm fuzzies like seeing William Shatner drop kick a henchman, or Leonard Nimoy doff a period appropriate hat to hide his ears. I wish that Trek could give everyone the joy that it gives me.


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