I was 13 when I fell in love with “Star Trek” and its studly captain, James T. Kirk. This is a true fact. This is also a known fact, as I’ve written about it before. Among the truest, factiest things I’ve written about it is something most people would go to their graves without revealing: namely, that I had a dream about William Shatner the morning before my mother died in 1994. In it, I recited her obituary to him. Yes! Fact-o-licious! Depressing and cringe-inducing, but also kind of funny, right? You have to admit you’re laughing; I am.
Anyway, the Shatner revelation is sort of fitting, as my mother cared approximately zilch what other people thought of her, and she once predicted that I’d reach a stage in life when the same was true of me. I was around 15 when she made this insightful prognostication, so you can just imagine how I received it. As I recall, I moaned out long, ballooning vowel sounds along the lines of MooooOOOOOOOooooooOOOOOm, followed by eyerolls so dramatic that mama had to yank them back with a crowbar.
How right she was about me. How little I care, these days. And how I would love to deliver this news to my former self. Imagine if I could just sail back in time to the late 1970s and drop in unannounced on Teen Amy (sounds like a horror film, doesn’t it?) as she pores over her “Star Trek” novels and drips saliva all over her hot-hot-hot Shatner pictures. I’d say, HEY KID, LOOSEN UP, and MAMA’S RIGHT, YOU WON’T GIVE A SNOT and LOOK AT HOW GRAY YOU’LL BE AT 50. I might also add, SHATNER MORPHS INTO A REALLY ODD DUCK AS HE GETS OLDER, but this might traumatize the poor pubescent lass. Besides, the same could be said of me.
And now that I think of it, being a Trekkie and a Shatnerphile was good preparation for life. It gave me a chance to define myself early on; it gave me a sense of myself, a secret inner understanding that became less and less secret over time.
At first I was just a nerd. Then I was a self-aware nerd, a nerd willing to admit as much to herself in the quiet of her cluttered bedroom. Then I became a nerd who bonded with fellow Trekkies. Finally, after talking about Tribbles or Klingons or Spock pinches in larger groups and not liquefying from embarrassment or public opprobrium, I became a nerd who didn’t much care what other people thought of her nerd-dom. If not a proud nerd, then an open nerd. A nerd without apologies. A nerd for life.
And one more thing: Mama had a crush on Shatner, too.