Thursday, February 7, 2008

My Favorite Spaceships - Volume 1

There's one spaceship that remains my favorite, even after all these decades. I first encountered it in second grade, watching Star Trek reruns after school (while also filling up on Gilligan, Brady Bunch, Lost in Space and others). There was just something wonderfully sleek, futuristic and functional about the design. There were no pretensions to being something that lands on a planet and needs wings nor was it just a cheesy rocket. The Enterprise is unique and I wanted to be on that ship with Capt. Kirk and pals.

When the ship got redesigned for the first movie, I loved it even more. Clean lines, somehow even more realistic and just beautiful. Why you'd need running lights in space, I'll never know, but it sure looks cool.

So in the second movie, (spoiler alert) Spock dies. Yeah, bummer, but what a great movie! Then in the third movie (spoiler alert) the Enterprise died.

That's when I cried. The Enterprise seemed like it had always been part of my life. I owned numerous models of it over the years, a whole fleet to fuel my imagination.

One day in the late eighties, I appeared in the game show Win, Lose or Draw, with Vicki Lawrence hosting. The "celebrities" on the women's side were two soap opera stars I'd never heard of. Playing as my team mates were Peter Marshall, the 900 year old host of Hollywood Squares, and the guy whose name escapes me at the moment but was the host of Nickelodeon's game show Double Dare, and I didn't really know who he was at the time. My favorite memory of Peter Marshall involved a moment when the cuter of the two soap opera stars bent over in front of us and Peter Marshall elbowed me and then nodded in the direction of her cleavage, smiling and raising his eyebrows in appreciation. (I just remembered that soap opera actress' name: Jackie Zeman. Perhaps that will mean something to some of you out there.)

So it got to be my turn to go up to the big drawing board and start drawing things to make the celebrities guess a phrase. The phrase I got was "Beam Me Up, Scotty." I went blank. I couldn't believe that a Star Trek nerd like me got assigned this phrase. But I had no idea how to illustrate the phrase. I couldn't seem to break it up into pieces in my mind, so I fell back on the first strategy I could come up with: I'd draw the starship Enterprise and hope the celebrities would just start uttering key Star Trek phrases until the right one came out.

They didn't get it. After time ran out, Vicki very nicely praised my drawing, noting that it looked just like the Enterprise, then revealed the phrase to my clueless partners. As we cut away to commercial, the Double Dare guy apologized to me and said, "I'm probably the only guy around who's never seen Star Trek." I wish I could have dumped a bucket of slime on him.

As it turned out, losing that round only set me back slightly. I won the overall game and went home with $2100 which I promptly blew on a new sweater, plane fare back to Texas for a Christmas visit and my tax bill.

And maybe, just maybe, I lost a little respect for the starship Enterprise.

Nah. I still love it.

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