I’m not sure exactly why I feel so bad about Leonard Nimoy’s death, but I do. Writing is one way to get rid of these feelings, some of them anyway, so here I am on my laptop. Hope it works.
I met Nimoy only twice, once during a benefit at the Rape Crisis Center in Santa Monica, for an interview way back in the early 80’s. The second time was on the lot at my former employer, KTLA-TV in Hollywood.
It was my custom when arriving at work to begin a daily process of excessively high caffeination, so my first stop would be the coffee urn on Stage 8. On this particular day, I went through the doors and into the foyer between stages 7 and 8, and there, all alone, stood Mr. Spock. That is to say, Leonard Nimoy. I stared at him. He looked back at me. I thought he was taller than he actually was which had no bearing on anything as I introduced myself and asked if he wanted a cup of coffee. He assured me he did not and said he was waiting for someone, so I went into the studio for my caffeine fix.
When I came back out, he was still there. It felt so strange, seeing him standing there all alone that I felt compelled to again ask if there was anything I could get him. Did he want me to show him where the vending machines were? Was he sure he didn’t want a cup of coffee? “No, I’m fine” he assured me once again.
I left feeling it was one of the strangest encounters of my professional life, if only because I so rarely bumped into a Vulcan on the lot at KTLA. At least, that’s how it felt, as I had been following Spock, since the very first airing of the original “Star Trek” in the fall of 1966.
I had just started my Freshman year in college when “Star Trek” went on the air in September of 1966. There were two tv viewing rooms in the dorm, one for men and another for women. That’s the way it was in 66. They were full to overflowing for two tv shows each week. One was “The Monkees.” The other was “Star Trek.” So I guess I was an original “Trekkie,” although I lost interest in the series in my next year of college and didn’t really get back on board the Enterprise until getting hooked on the movie series and then the reruns of”Star Trek The Next Generation.”
I think that I, and so many others, were drawn to the original series because it had so much going for it. Good stories, mini-morality plays really, great characters well acted and futurism, something that probably has always been a draw for young people. Boy did the network that cancelled that original Star Trek series (NBC) blow it big time, walking away from a key demographic like that. But walk away they did and now Spock, Bones and Scotty are all dead and gone and so far, writing about it hasn’t made me feel one bit better.
It has though, forced me to remember another chance encounter, this one with DeForest Kelley while waiting in line to by movie tickets here in the San Fernando Valley. For no particular reason I turned around and there was “Bones” looking back at me. This is Los Angeles, these things sometimes happen, and it’s my policy not to pester celebrities. However, bumping into Kelley like that left me feeling almost as strange as my encounter with Spock.
For those of us who came of age in the 60’s, the passing of Scotty, Bones and now the powerful character of Spock, is undoubtedly a reminder of our mortality. But they did at least leave us with their stories, our memories linked both to the series and its place in time and space and a vision for something better than we currently have. A more elevated version of humanity. Not something to be overlooked.
Thank you, Mr. Spock. And goodbye Mr. Nimoy. Thanks for reminding us that logic plays a necessary role in the human condition.
Okay, now I feel better.