When I Was Spock and Paris [nostalgia]

While growing up in the ’60s, television introduced me to Star Trek and its characters. One character who attracted me to the program and kept me watching with keen interest was Mr. Spock, played by the late Leonard Nimoy. Spock was fascinating, not because of his pointed ears and slanted eyebrows, but because of his analytical mind. He was the starship’s leading science officer, exploring data of every phenomenon presented on the weekly series, and solving mysteries. He was the Sherlock Holmes of Star Trek.

I was already an avid reader of Sherlock Holmes and tried to watch every televised movie starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. Puzzle solving fascinated me. I studied codes and ciphers, wrote my own language, and pretended I was Holmes … until Star Trek came along one September Thursday night in 1966. After that, I was Spock.

My brothers and I playacted our favorite TV shows outdoors (Mom never allowed us to play indoors). There, every summer, autumn, winter and spring, we playacted characters from Daniel Boone, The Wild Wild West, and The Man from UNCLE. Star Trek was our favorite, so my brothers were Kirk, McCoy, Sulu and Scotty, and I was Mr. Spock, turning our backyard into the starship Enterprise and boldly going into our wild imaginations sparked and fueled by a TV show that had the best characters ever. Even after the show’s cancellation in 1969, I was still telling them whether our missions and actions were logical or not.

After Star Trek, Nimoy joined the cast of Mission: Impossible. I was already a fan of the show because of its espionage stories, so I was thrilled when “The Great Paris” arrived. Paris (whose real name was never revealed) was an actor, magician and a master of disguise make-up artist; he sometimes helped the team crack codes, enter the enemy’s lair, and foil the bad guys. Though not as good a character as Spock, I gave Paris a more analytical mind when my brothers and I playacted the show.

When I read Nimoy’s I Am Not Spock in 1976, I was 19 and still Spock … well, still thinking analytically and trying to see logic in the crazy world around me. Nimoy’s book, in quick summary, is about an actor who takes seriously his profession and does what he feels is right for both him and the production he is employed with. It was then that I took art seriously. I studied it every chance I got and became determined to do well at the craft, all the while determined to do what I felt right for me and the art I was doing. This became true for my writing too and became my mantra in life. Nimoy repeats this philosophy in his later book, I Am Spock. And just like he did for all those years after the first run of Star Trek, I too hear Spock’s voice in my mind commenting on humanity’s irrational aspect … especially now while the world seems like a crazier place than ever before.

Rest in peace Mr. Nimoy. And Mr. Spock, may you live long and prosper.

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