Star Trek has been a hugely integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. My father – a seasoned and exceptionally knowledgeable geek himself – introduced my siblings and I to the world of Vulcans, Klingons, Romulans, and the like from a very young age; although, I think it was solely I who took to the franchise like a moth to the flame. My father (a loyal and ardent Trekkie) would regularly sit and watch the syndicated episodes when they aired. I vaguely remember the first time I laid eyes upon the being referred to as “Mr. Spock.” This weird-looking man on the tube with pointy ears and oddly-shaped eyebrows was conversing with another man in a yellow shirt (the man I would later come to know as the indelible Captain Kirk). In which episode of The Original Series (TOS) this scene transpired I cannot recall. But I do remember being fascinated (and a bit scared) of the tall gentleman in a blue shirt. Thinking back, it must have been “grinning” Spock in that first episode of mine long ago. Cause as us fans know, when Spock cracks a smile, bad things tend to befall the Enterprise.
My father further cultivated this initial exposure by bringing me along to experience the movies when they premiered in theaters, my favorite of them being – as is the case for most fans – The Voyage Home. This was the film which solidified my love for the franchise. Watching Mr. Spock expound with Captain Kirk about “colorful metaphors” was truly an awesome experience for my 10-year old self – and consequently, still is. But that has always been the universal charm of Leonard Nimoy’s beloved character. His calm, logical demeanor and child-like naivete coupled with that unmistakable voice of his always made for some great dialogue exchanges between himself and his fellow shipmates. His observations and conclusions always brought with them an air of pragmatism and intelligence; if Mr. Spock knew not of a solution, then the situation was definitely going to be a bit unpropitious.
The universe finally granted me the honor of meeting my lifelong idol in 2009. I was aimlessly perusing the exhibit hall of San Diego’s Comic-Con with my sister when she suddenly grabbed me by the shirt and violently swiveled me towards the table on our left. Both of us were frozen. For there, about to have a seat for an autographing session, was Mr. Leonard Nimoy. Now, I will freely admit that I’m a celebrity-whore, having met my fair share of thespians while gainfully employed with Tribune Broadcasting; a proclivity which has made me fairly immune to being star-struck. This particular meeting, however, supplanted all of that experience with the force of a Klingon armada preying down upon a Constitution-class starship. My “immunity” had a zero chance of escaping this no-win scenario.
After I humbly chose the photo with which the good sir would bequeath his signature upon, and kindly asked for a quick snapshot (above), I shook his hand and thanked him for the honor. Mr. Nimoy simply smiled and nodded in reply. Of all the actors, actresses, directors, writers, producers, television personalities, and celebrity-types I have met in my 15-years attending the annual festivities in San Diego, this will remain the most cherished, most memorable, and definitely most surreal of them all.
When I received word on Friday of Mr. Nimoy’s passing, it surprisingly hit me harder than I would have expected. Of course this wasn’t the first instance of living through the passing of someone I admired and grew up with on television and in film – far from it. The reason it hit me hard was because, for some odd reason, I always believed “Mr. Spock” would be around forever. But having had a few days to digest this huge loss for Geekdom, I realized my long-held belief remains undeterred. The legacy of storytelling to which Leonard Nimoy has contributed and left behind will endure. It will continue to capture and nurture the imagination of young geeks, creating legions of budding Trek fans for generations to come. Hopefully, and with a little bit of luck, well into the 23rd century and beyond.
Rest in peace, Mr. Nimoy. Thank you for the memories, sir.