the final frontier: saying goodbye to Leonard Nimoy

When you think about what makes Mikel Andrews the man he is, Star Wars inevitably comes to mind. But there is a small window of time that not a lot of people know about. Just an awkward phase in middle school where I experimented.

With Star Trek.

Obviously there’s a huge rift between the fans of the Trek and the Wars, but personally, I’ve never really understood it. One’s science fiction, and one’s fantasy. Two totally different things. Take out the similar setting, and the two couldn’t be more different.

But, truthfully, I have gone out of my way in life to associate myself with Star Wars. It’s cooler. It’s more fun. Star Wars is the lovable family dog of space movies, and Star Trek is the bristly cat.

Today, however, I set aside my preferences, to remember Leonard Nimoy, the man who played Spock. The man who invented Spock. The man we say goodbye to today.

Let me take you back a few years.

In my heart of hearts, I knew Star Wars was cooler, but that didn’t stop me from latching onto Star Trek in 7th grade. In 6th grade, I was this lovable scamp with a stylish bowlcut, a backpack full of Star Wars books, and a Girbaud shirt that I leaned on a little too heavily.

7th grade, however, remains a very different story. I was chubby. That’s putting it nicely. Let’s just say I was really into Hawaiian shirts that year. I had just turned 13, so puberty was about 8 or 9 years away. I was a depressive loner so desperate to be in the “in crowd” that I barely have any memories that don’t involve me scheming a way into their lunch table. Or parties. Or their section of the wall at school dances. Sobbing over not receiving an invite. Befriending teachers. Typical teenage girl stuff, right?

But there was one thing that was mine: my weird fascination with Star Trek. And not even The Next Generation, which I think was still airing or at least being talked about amongst the normals. I was straight up into the original cast. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. The original bromance. I watched the Star Trek motion pictures over and over and over, and when I wasn’t watching them, I was reading the books based on them.

I remind you, this was almost exclusively confined to my 7th grade year. I always found that weird.

Today, however, when I heard the news of Mr. Nimoy’s passing, I felt a little tug in my chest that I hadn’t felt in a long time. An immortal had fallen. And it hurt.

I remembered an aspect of that time of my life I had sealed away. I was obsessed with Spock. Any episode, movie, or book having to do with Spock was at the forefront of my fandom. I remember rubber-banding my fingers to train my hands to do the “Live Long and Prosper” gesture.

Hey, man. Desperate times called for desperate measures, after all.

I stopped short of shaving my eyebrows at an angle.

I don’t know what it was about Spock. As aliens go, he was pretty lackluster, and as characters go, he was pretty plain on the surface. But his icy logic struck a chord with me.

In hindsight, I think it was his ability to control his emotions to a scientific degree. The struggle always brimming beneath his surface to appear cold and calculating. At a time when my hormones and emotions were exploding like fireworks, here was  a guy that could bury those things, achieve greatness, and live nearly forever.

Nearly.

Plus, Spock’s comebacks were always the best. Sometimes just a flick of an eyebrow could convey more than dialogue ever could. He was the Jim Halpert of the Enterprise.

(I know what you’re thinking: He’s the Dwight. I disagree. My essay on comparing the crew of the Enterprise to the cast of The Office is forthcoming. Right now, we’re paying tribute to greatness. Bear with me.)

Maybe that was it. Maybe in 7th grade, my emotions were my own worst enemy, thus making Spock my hero. Sure, Han Solo was cool–that was the problem. He and I would never relate on a certain level. Spock, trying not to burst into tears over a personal tragedy, was basically my theme song. And still is, some days.

Well, the woman with the notepad is telling my time’s almost up, so as I get up off this couch, I will bring it back around.

Mr. Nimoy, you gave me strength during a time when nobody else could. Your contributions to the realm of science fiction have been numerous, and your contribution to a kid trying to get through math class were even greater. Thank you so much for sharing your character with us.

You have been, and always shall be, my friend.

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