With the 50th anniversary year beginning to wind-down, we thought it might be kind of fun to ask some of our authors here at Simon & Schuster if they had any brief Star Trek memories they'd care to share with our followers. We expected a few passing responses here and there that would simply acknowledged the series or, at most, critique the latest films. What we did not expect was an outpouring of nostalgic, heart-warming submissions from authors portraying Star Trek as a childhood infatuation. Here's one from Frederic S. Durbin.
1. How I Discovered Star Trek to Be an International Language: When I lived in Shirone, Japan, I decided to dress up as Mr. Spock for a Hallowe'en party at our church. I actually gave myself a Spock haircut, used makeup to create the right kind of eyebrows, developed prosthetic ears--the whole nine yards--or light-years. The apartment complex where I lived was largely occupied by Brazilians who had come to work in the nearby candy factory. On the evening of the party, there was a Brazilian party going on in the courtyard between all our apartments. To get to the church, I would have to walk right through the gathering, and I wondered how to explain to my neighbors why I was dressed like that. I didn't speak Portuguese, I didn't think any of my neighbors could speak English, and I wasn't sure if they spoke Japanese. So I made my way trepidatiously down my outside stairs, carrying my jack-o'-lanterns, determined at least that I would say the word "fiesta," although I knew that was Spanish--wrong language. I needn't have worried. The moment they saw me, my neighbors all grinned and greeted me with friendly cries of "Hey! Mr. Spock! All right! Hallowe'en!" and gave me lots of thumbs-up. I invited them to the party. Star Trek spans the world and brings people together across language barriers!
2. I have wonderful memories of the reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation during summers in the mid-nineties, when I was home from Japan, visiting my parents. Dad and I would sit in his TV room, watching the episodes, which aired nearly every night. Mom would sit in the next room, quilting, but listening to everything. She knew all the characters and situations, but she experienced Star Trek much as people used to experience a radio show, by sound only, her imagination filling in the rest. When I would show her pictures of the cast, she would say, "That's what s/he looks like? Huh!"
Frederic S. Durbin is the author of A Green and Ancient Light.