Star Trek

A curious girl’s ethnographic quest for stimulation, knowledge and the least common denominator…
(originally published on Austinist.com)

It’s been so long since my last story that I believe you deserve an explanation. I have a confession to make:

I am not a Klingon.

Go ahead. Take some time to let that sink in if you need to. I’ll wait.

Okay?

So, I’m not basing this conclusion on my smooth (if not bulbous) forehead, or my lack of desire to kill Tribbles, or the fact that Klingons (and Tribbles) don’t actually exist. No. I’m basing it on the fact that I, Wendy Mitchell, sole author of this column, attended a party for the release of a new Star Trek MMORPG (Massively-Multi Online Role-Playing Game) in February of 2010, almost eight months ago, and I’m just now getting around to writing about it.

Now let me explain.

See, during the course of one of my several dozen attempts at penning this article, I had the disastrous notion that I would write the whole thing in Klingon. Like, the language. As you can see, I abandoned said notion (there is no holodeck at play here), but not before I’d uncovered a plethora of Klingon wisdom passed down through the[albeit fictional] generations. My brief foray into the depths of the Klingon lexicon brought forth this insightful adage that hit home with a vengeance:

lumbe’ tlhlnganpu’

For you practical types who took Spanish instead, here’s the translation: Klingons do not procrastinate.

And, if there’s anything I do consistently, accurately and often obsessively, it is procrastinate. Procrastinate and digress.
[You can read more useful Klingon proverbs, such as ghIchwIj DabochmoHchugh, ghIchlIj qanob (If you shine my nose, I will give you your nose), here.]I digress. Way back in February, this Star Trek MMORPG stuff was all new to me. There was to be a pre-party for the midnight release of the game, and promised activities included a trivia contest, exciting prizes, and general camaraderie among Trekkies, gamers and Trekkie gamers.It was 10:30 p.m. on a Tuesday, and I was parked outside of the GameStop looking in the windows like it was a stakeout or something. On the drive there, I’d imagined a room full of native Klingon speakers… ladies with poorly-affixed pointy ears… men with their faces painted black on one side and white on the other. Perhaps I would be stopped at the door for not having the proper Starfleet credentials? Perhaps there would be a themed wedding?Nope. Through the glass, I could see two employees and a handful of people in ordinary, civilian dress.

When I made my approach, I was greeted by an employee.

“Are you here for the launch?” she asked.

“Yes,” I told her.

“Great! We’ll be starting the trivia contest in just a few minutes. Would you like to sign up? We’ll be giving away a copy of the game signed by the developers!”

“I think I’ll probably just hang out and watch,” I smiled.

I mean, it’s not like I’m Star Trek-illiterate or anything, I’ve seen a good chunk of the original series anyway, and I might have actually seen all of the movies (the last one was really good, btw). I know that Spock is half-human/half-Vulcan and that he goes into heat every seven years (okay, I learned that last part from Leonard Nimoy’s guest appearance on Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me). I know that Captain Kirk was always a hit with the ladies, and that The Wrath of Kahn is responsible for a hefty percentage of the nation’s annual earplug sales. And, most importantly, I know that boots and monochrome 60’s mini dresses are timelessly chic. But I had a feeling this trivia thing was going to be a bit over my head.

I took a quick lap around the store, trying to look knowledgeable (or at least interested) and trying to resist the gigantic The Beatles: Rock Band display that was calling out to me from the corner of the room. Nothing saysI’m not a real gamer like Rock Band.

I decided my best option was to take the lightning approach: Stand next to the tallest person there and feign invisibility. I chose the awkwardly-lanky Red-Headed Guy (R-HG), claimed my space and surveyed my companions.

The only person sporting Star Trek regalia was also the only other female in the room. She wore one of those mini dresses. It was blue, which I believe signified she was an officer of some sort. Regardless, she was pretty cute in that I’m a female who also knows a whole bunch about Star Trek sort of way. She was pretty much holding court.

One guy who found her especially fascinating seemed to be engaging in a rare dialect of flirtation. It was hard to recognize at first, but once I figured out the syntax, it was pretty obvious. She seemed to be enjoying it. Perhaps the fact that he looked like an older and slightly chubbier version of the kid in those old Encyclopedia Britannica Commercials was helping his case.

Anyway, we were all standing around chatting. You know, standard smalltalk:

“You know, they don’t have a female Borg! I was, like, what is this?! If they bothered to put the four genders of the Andorians, you’d think they’d put a female Borg!” Blue Dress Girl said.

“That’s lame,” R-HG replied.

“Of course they have Tribbles, though,” an insolent Trench-Coat Guy (T-CG) added.

“Aww. I like Tribbles. I can’t help it, I’m a girl!” Blue dress girl giggled. I had to agree.

Encyclopedia Guy (EG) saw his chance, “Look, leave it to me, and I’ll start hunting them for sport on the Klingon homeworld!”

Blue Dress Girl giggled more.

“Funny, too, cause I’ve only picked them up from Klingons,” Random Man added.

“Actually, that’s… that’s… yeah!” R-HG stammered excitedly. “They never even got on starbase! That’s the only place that’s got them. And they multiply when they’re migratory during the [okay, honestly, I have no idea what he said].”

Everyone seemed to agree.

“So, I mean, how do you make a game about Dante’s Inferno?” Blue Dress Girl asked, pointing to a shelf full of the game.

“They didn’t,” EG told her. “They made a game based in hell, and they called it Dante’s Inferno. And we allknow they’re not going to make Dante’s Paradiso!”

This guy was on fire! Definitely the Alpha Geek. No question.

Some people on the other side of the room were talking about the Ghost Rider movie, and EG broke in, “Nicolas Cage had to get his Ghost Rider tattoo covered up to play Ghost Rider!”

I laughed out loud. Loudly. But no one else did. That’s when I realized that was a fact, not a joke. Oops.

“I mean, Nic Cage isn’t awful,” EG continued. “He was cool. Really a Ghost Rider fan.”

“Oh yeah, well what about Raising Arizona?! That was awful!” T-CG blasphemed.

“I haven’t see it,” said Blue Dress Girl.

“I don’t know that one,” EC said.

T-CG lowered his voice to a mumble, “Yeah, well, I didn’t watch the whole thing or anything.

R-HG added, “Wasn’t that a family comedy or something?”

“Yeah, I think so,” somebody said.

Now I am accustomed to being the only person in a room who has not seen a particular movie. In fact, that is typically my role. I smile and say, “Sorry, I have no idea what you’re referencing.” So this was an unprecedented occurrence. I was the only person in the room who had seen Raising Arizona. For real? And did they just use the term family comedy in regular, spoken conversation? Like, not ironically? Not to mention the fact that this guy’s example of Nicolas Cage’s ultimate bad movie choice was Raising Arizona. Like, a classic. Has he ever heard of, say, Con freaking Air?

At this point, I’d like to introduce an important concept in the form of a very short and story entitled:

Our Brains Are Different. No, I Mean ‘Really’ Different (A Daydream)

Act I.

[A glass of water sits on a table]

Wendy: The glass is half empty.

Wendy’s Friend: The glass is half full.
Wendy: You are such an optimist.
Wendy’s Friend: You are such a pessimist.

Act II.

[A glass of water sits on a table]

EG-Like Person: The glass looks like the magical aperitif featured in Deep Universe Earthness [paraphrasing] in scene eleven of the seventh episode, The Way Back From the Glass is Two-Fold and Wins Outright [again, paraphrasing], in which the clear liquid was harvested from the bile of the [some fictional creature] on the planet [some fictional planet], and, upon imbibing, brought about the appearance of the wormhole that lasted seventeen seconds and ultimately brought about the downfall of the [some fictional race] of [some other fictional planet].
EG-Like Person’s Friend: Actually, it’s not bile. [Aforementioned fictional creatures] don’t secrete bile. Technically, it’s a form of plasma.

The End
[Okay, back to the action.]

There is a thoughtful, Nic Cage-induced lull in the conversation.

Chuckling nervously, EG tried to break it. “If I knew I was gonna have to interact with people, I wouldn’t have showed up!” he exclaimed.

We laughed, then yet another collective awkward silence ensued.

Again, EG went for it. “Collective awkward silence!” he said. Out loud. Ugh.

It is at this moment that my mind began to wander into a dark, dark place. “Can you imagine having sex with that guy?” Ithought to myself. I even wrote it down in my notes, word-for-word: Can you imagine having sex withthat guy?

And just as I was imagining his impassioned exclamation, “Misinterpreted unsatisfied sigh!” my train of thought was thankfully interrupted.

The Employee announced it was time for trivia.

“I’ll ask a question and the first person to say the correct answer gets a point,” she told us.

She began reading, “Which of these characters was the last to join the poker game during the seven season of Star Trek: The Next Generation? Is it A: Riker, B: Data, C: Picard, or D: Troi?”

Blue Dress Girl was already shouting, “Thomas Riker.”

“Noooo,” said The Employee.

“Picard,” R-HG guessed.

“Picard’s right!”

“Nice job,” I told R-HG.

“Moving on. “Which two-part Next Generation episode featured Robin Curtis, the actress who played Saavick inThe Search for Spock and The Voyage Home?”

“They’re asking for the name of an episode?” I muttered.

R-HG replied, “Oh, screw that!”

“The Wrath of Kahn?” T-CG said.

“That’s not an episode!” we all said. Duh.

“That’s a movie,” R-HG chimed in, just in case T-CG needed further clarification.

The Employee repeated the question.

“Uh, Best of Both Worlds?” EG guessed.

“Nope.”

“That’s a Borg,” R-HG told him.

“That could be Robin Curtis, too, I don’t know!” he replied.

The Employee offered a hint, “It’s an X-Men character…”

“Cyclops?” someone guessed. There was a big group laugh that I didn’t get.

“Jubilee?”

Somebody eventually guessed the correct answer. Or didn’t. My head hurt. We moved on.

“On Star Trek Enterprise, what sport is Captain Archer most fond of?”

R-HG said, “Golf? No idea.”

“No.”

“Hockey, I think?” Blue Dress Girl guessed.

“No.”

Random Man asked, “Water Polo?”

“Winner!” The Employee said.

“Yeah, he watches it all of the time,” Random Man expounded. “When he walks in his room, you can always see it in on in the background.”

“Wow, I thought I was obsessed with stuff,” R-HG said. “I really feel out-geeked. This is impressive!”

“There’s always a bigger fish out there,” T-CG said in a resigned sort of way.

The Employee continued, “On Star Trek: Voyager, a species was introduced that was so powerful they could defeat the Borg. What was their numerical designation?

Random Man answered immediately, “Species 8472.”

“Winner!”

“Wow!” we all exclaimed.

“Next question. Who was Riker’s fake wife in a dream induced by the lonely child alien Barash?”

“Minuet,” someone answered, quicker than you can say the lonely child alien Barash.

“The Cardassian alcoholic beverage known as a Kanar varied in color from episode-to-episode it seemed. What color was it when the fans were first introduced to it?”

We seemed to be on an even playing field for this one. It was a free-for-all:

“Blue?”

“No.”

“Gold?”

“Nope.”

“Black?”

“Green?”

“No, no.”

“Blue?”

“Red?”

“Orange?”

“Nope.”

“Yellow?”

“No. No.”

“White? Clear?”

“Nope.”

“Black?”

“Purple?”

“Yes! Purple!!”

“Purple!” we all said, slapping our foreheads. R-HG had gotten it. I wanted to high-five him, but he didn’t seem prepared.

“Jeez, are there any other colors?!” I asked. We all laughed, short-of-breath.

“We’d gone through everything short of pink!” EG said.

“Lilac,” I said.

“Maroon,” R-HG added.

Fun.

We finished the trivia game right around midnight, and then The Employee started selling the games. More and more people showed up, made their purchases and left. Guess people play online role-playing games for a reason, eh?

“So is anyone really gonna go home and start playing online tonight?” Blue Dress Girl asked, lingering after making her purchase.

“Yeah, we are,” EG said, pointing to T-CG.

“I brought my laptop with me. And my modem,” T-CG said.

“Why?” R-HG asked. I was with him.

“I always bring it with me. It’s pretty bad. I used to carry my desktop around with me.”

“Oh god,” I said, accidentally.

“I actually had to work out in order to carry my desktop around.”

“Nice one,” EG exclaimed. “Dude, I’m so out of shape that, holding this poster is a workout for me!”

We all laughed.

R-HG replied, “The heaviest thing I carry all week is my paint ball gear. And that weighs, like, four pounds.”

This continued for awhile, each guy one-upping the other on how little he could lift or carry. Like the inverse of trash-talking. Like a world of bizarro your mama jokes. It’s not my kind of thing, but apparently it works in certain circles- like this one…

“Can I get your number so maybe you can play table with us sometime?” EG asked Blue Dress Girl. “We’re looking for some more people.”

“Sure,” she agreed.

He typed it in his phone and then commenced to completely lose his grasp on any semblance of suaveness.

“Okay, so how do I save this? Dammit, hang on,” he said nervously. He was wildly pressing buttons, stuttering. Laughing.

“Wow,” she said. “So tech savvy!”

“Oh! Add to address! No… Wait. Why doesn’t it just say save? Okay, wait. No. Hang on. I got it.”

She was giggling uncontrollably. I have to admit it was kind of cute.

EG finally got ahold of himself. “So, um, maybe I’ll see you online tonight?” he asked her.

“Yeah, sure,” Blue Dress Girl told him. “Maybe so.”

STATS

Gender:
7 male / 2 female

Favorite linguistic principle of the last eight months: 
Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

Number of Klingon words for river of blood and inflicting discomfort upon one’s enemies:

A whole bunch

Number of different intros I have written for this story:About the same