Goodbye Mr. Spock

spock

Leonard Nimoy passed away last week. We knew and loved him best as Mr. Spock. Mr. Logic. Mr. green-blooded, pointy-eared, emotionless, smarty-pants. We watched as he refused to acknowledge his human half, denying any emotion he may or may not have had.

When “Star Trek: The Next Generation” came on the scene it was interesting to see how the new characters they introduced dealt with the human condition, especially in relation to emotions. We had two characters on opposing ends of the spectrum: Data who, as a robot/android had NO emotions and trying so hard to become a real boy, and then you had Deanna Troi, an empathic, who was a walking therapist, tapping into everyone’s emotions. She never had to ask, “So, how do you FEEL about that?” because she was swimming in it. Two “aliens” trying so hard to show us episode after episode what it meant to be human; to feel pain and love and make mistakes and how it was okay, that it was all okay and preferable to the alternative.

As much as I loved TNG, my heart always belonged to the original, to Spock and even to the halting speech patterns of Captain Kirk. I loved the sparring between the ill-tempered doctor and the maddening logical 1st officer. The three of them – Spock, Kirk, and McCoy – aptly exemplified the real human condition. Our strive for logic and trying to move away from too much emotion, our tendency to get pissed off at everyone and everything just because the people around us are just plain annoying as all get out, and then the middle-of-the-road leading man himself, leaning on logic on the one hand and yet knowing when to tap into just enough of the righteous indignation on his other hand.

Spock taught us more about humanity than all of the other characters combined. I don’t remember a dry eye in the theater when Spock died in “The Wrath of Khan.” What better epitomizes humanity than real love and sacrifice? What better mantra than the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few – or the one?

That scene was a coming of age moment for me. I was embarking on adulthood and a symbolic ending of my childhood. I grew up with Spock and Uhura and Chekov (and crewman number 5 who always managed to get himself whacked in the first scene.) You always knew who was and wasn’t going to make it and in those days the big guns, the main characters, ALWAYS made it. So when we were comfortably sitting in the velvety theater chairs and we saw the barrier of glass between Kirk and Spock and knew what Spock was doing and that Kirk couldn’t get in to save him . . . oi vey . . . Kirk and Spock’s emotion-wrenching, last-conversation-on-earth dialogue was a kick in the gut, a betrayal to our childhood fantasy that people who mean the most to us can’t die, don’t die, or won’t leave us. It was a divergence from the patterns we grew to rely on in our break from reality. But Spock did leave us that day, and our illogical selves (because we KNEW it was a movie and he was a character from a TV series) mourned his passing.

But even as we exited the theater, moved from the darkened room into the bright lights of candy and popcorn counters we breathed a wistful sigh of relief. We knew it wasn’t real and thank goodness we could walk into the light and know that it was all pretend. They had to bring Spock back. We HOPED they would bring Spock back in a later movie.

And they did. We wanted it so much, too much. If they couldn’t bring back our childhood we could at least maintain that childlike wonder of fantasy, of bringing back someone we loved even if defied our day-to-day adult logic.

But now, we have no choice but to say goodbye to our childhood, to own up to the fact that there are no shiny candy and popcorn counters waiting outside, no sigh of relief that it was really only a movie playing on our emotions. There will be no sequels or yet another resurrection of the original Spock.

Leonard Nimoy, as Spock you taught us about loyalty and love and sacrifice – and pain. Without trying, and with wardrobe no fancier than pointy ears and a bad haircut, you had our hearts and our attention. You had a generation practicing not only the “live long and prosper” hand sign but believing we really could knock out our little sister with a Vulcan death pinch. The illogical side cheered us on, chanting in our brains, “It will work! It will work!” But it is the logical side that watches, silent and impassionate, as that same little sister, now thoroughly annoyed, swings around and lands one believable punch right in the nose.

You taught us episode after episode what it really meant to be human; that not only is it logical but expected to feel pain and love and make mistakes.

Mr. Nimoy, through the actions of the one, you impacted the hearts of the many.

You will be missed.

Five Fab Friday – (5 things I’m grateful for)

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  1. That nobody really cares that its not Friday
  2. Elmer’s glue. This puddle of white goo gave me endless hours as a child. Although I never stepped out of my comfort zone to actually eat it as some of my contemporaries were fond of doing at the time I did love lathering it on the palm of my hand, waiting for it to dry, and then peeling it off like an extra layer of skin. We use to collect these pre-body-snatcher creations in our pencil boxes. And yes, as an adult in retrospect I do find this gross. But at the time . . . J
  3. Silly putty and Sunday comics. Pressing down that pink creation and pulling up a mirror image of Garfield. Good times. Good times.
  4. Red toenail polish. This was an acquired taste I must admit. I’ve always grossed out by toes in general (in my opinion they are hideous add-ons). To date I’m slightly queasy but I can walk beside a friend or neighbor in sandals and resist the urge to find a fireman’s axe to remedy the creation.
  5. Bling-bling. I love my bling-bling and living in Houston Texas allows me to fit right in. We love our bling from rhinestones on flip-flops to shiny dresses at a Jeans and Jewels gala event.
  6. I love being able to do whatever I want as an adult, including ignoring the “five” rule in my own title.

To be Invisible: Part II

In my last post I shared Jennifer Seale’s blog about invisibility and the dehumanization of the human soul. She speaks of running to the mirror to check on her hands and face, certain she was “not real.” I too would spend what seemed like hours in front of the mirror, looking into the face and eyes of a child it seemed no one else bothered to see or hear.

I vividly remember sitting and listening at the kitchen table where many adult discussions were held. Some situations and conversations were set down and picked up day after day and I would return each time, “tagging” along, quiet and unobtrusive. It wasn’t uncommon for the talk to cease and someone to suddenly ask, “How long has she been there?”

Ummmm . . . about a week . . .

I have another memory of sitting on the gymnasium floor with a group of girls filling out a paper for an assignment. I turned to the girl sitting next to me—we’ll call her Lebbie Dusk—and I calmly asked her a question about the assignment.

No response.

So . . . I tried again.

Nothing.

Odd. Maybe she didn’t hear me. So I gently leaned over, put my lips to her ear and . . . yelled her frickin’ name at the top of my lungs.

But there was a problem. (Despite the obvious one that you as a reader and me as a [cough] mature adult recognize at this point: I may have been a bit of a pain in the butt-ox). The problem–at the time–was that it does no good for an invisible person to yell. I didn’t exist.

My sister and mother would often have conversations in front of me and, if I asked for clarification or additional detail about the subject they were discussing, it would be a surreal experience as I watched their eyes look down, to the side, up at the ceiling, at their fingernails, at the cat; every where but at me. They knew that there had been a psychic shift, a strange presence that had stopped their conversation but neither wanted (or dared?) to acknowledge it. So they simply didn’t.

Where was my Haley Joel Osment [I see dead people] when I needed one?

Speaking of dead people, I knew I was really out of the loop when I walked into the mortuary to dress my mother for burial. Laying on the table was this woman with blonde hair. For all of my life my mother had jet-black hair (granted, most of those years were from a bottle.)

“When did mom become a blonde?” I asked my sister.

“Oh, awhile ago. She heard blonde’s have more fun.”

This woman was 68.

I will concede that part of this issue may have been my doing. Maybe I was normally too quiet. Maybe I needed to express my views or opinions more. Maybe I just simply needed to speak up.

So I did. I realized I had a voice and in a moment of epiphany I decided it was time I tried to use it.

It wasn’t as successful an endeavor as I’d envisioned it to be . . .

It was the late 70’s, I was in Junior High and once again I was engaged in my favorite spectator sport, that of studying and analyzing the conversations of the adults around me. My dad was having a chat with one of his buddies in our living room (to this date I cannot even remember what the topic was). I’d taken seriously the internal challenge to get more involved, to speak up, let my voice be heard. I was up on my current events. I read the coolest magazines. I was an intelligent girl and now was my chance to prove it.

I waited for the perfect opening, screwed up my courage, took a deep breath and jumped in with both feet. I nearly exploded with:

“I read an article that in 1984 space aliens are going to invade the earth!”

The room went silent.

All eyes were now—finally–on me.

Wow. I wasn’t invisible anymore.

Not sure how much I liked it.

I sensed my dad was thinking something along the lines of, “I knew I should have had a vasectomy earlier” or “Is it too late to put her in that ‘special’ class at school?” His friend had the look of, “If I don’t make any sudden moves . . .”

I don’t think either one really knew WHAT to say so, after a reasonable amount of awkward staring, they turned back to each other and picked up their conversation, giving no more heed to me than a mental note to nail shut some drafty window.

But hey, I may have struck out but at least I swung the bat.

This is why I love being a writer. Writing gives me the venue for others—and me—to hear my own true voice (whatever truth is at that moment, aliens or no). Part of being a writer is being able to sit still, listen, and watch the world unfolding—and at times unraveling—before you. And I can do that in spades.

I see now that I have the best of both worlds. I can be in a room listening to a conversation, very much incognito, gathering information for articles, characters, and scenes. I then go home, sit at my computer, and bring into form first the skeleton, then skin, bones, and all sorts of sinews until I’ve a nice plump story. My words become the trench coat, glasses, and fedora of the invisible man.

So I suppose, being invisible had its moments. It’s been great fodder for blogs and blackmail, not to mention great scripts for creepy movies.

So now when I glance in the mirror I worry more about the growing number of laugh wrinkles than about an unseen child.

And that . . . makes me smile.

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