Monday, June 11, 2012

How much would you pay to talk to Spock, back in the day?

My cousin Sheryl turned me on to the JRR Tolkiin's, The Hobbit when I was in 10th grade. She went to another school and was a year behind me, separated by three months in our ages. I read it, and not surprisingly, I loved it!

Then I read LOR, Lord of the Rings. I didn’t so much love it as I had expected Bilbo, not this jerk nephew of his, Frodo. Also, the writing was different. It was harsher, more grown up; it wasn’t a cute kids tale anymore. People died! Important people.

It was hard starting The Hobbit, too. I should admit that. It was too much like a little kids tale. But it grows on you. But by the end of the first book I was a fan of the trilogy. In fact, I because a Tolkien-phile. I read everything of his I could get my hands on. I looked him up. To this day I have a collector's edition of the Trilogy with a hand written page in them indicating all of Tolkein's awards and academic achievements.

But what does this have to do with Spock?

For years, I thought trilogy was pronounced triology. The only other mistake of that magnitued I made back then was that I thought Leonard Nimoy's name was Nimory. What a mental midget.

A few years before I read the Trilogy, my little brother by five years, Kim, and I got to talk to Nimoy when he and Shatner were in Seattle for the Jerry Lewis Telethon in the late 60s. We wanted to talk to Capt. Kirk. He was after all, "The Man" (or "The Captain" if you prefer). And so we waited on the phone for forty minutes! It was long distance and my brother and I, both breathless, and our mom, all waited on different phone extensions.

Finally the phone guy who answered the phone at the Telethon said, "You know, Mr. Shatner is just too much in demand. It's going to be hard to get him online. Everyone wants to talk to him. Would you like to talk to  Leonard Nimoy, Spock", instead?"

Our mom, knowing this was costing us maybe as much as the little she was going to pledge, convinced us to talk to Nimoy. We were a bit crushed. We said okay, but we were a bit disappointed. Then we realized, were going to get to talk to Spock!

So he gets on the phone and says, "Hello boys, how are you doing?"

I'll never forget it. That Nimoy/Spock voice. Amazing. We were on the phone with Spock! Hearing his voice locked up our own voice/brain/life and no one said a word. Finally our Mom said, "I think the boys are in shock. Say something boys. Mr. Nimoy is busy. Talk to him."

Nimoy just chuckled. I'm sure he was used to it by now. So he just stated talking, getting us finally to and tentatively speak to him. We talked to him for a few minutes and then he thanked us for our pledge and mom talked to him for a second; and then... it was over.

Later, when we got the phone bill, our mom almost had a heart attack. She said maybe there is a way around this. So she called the phone company and complained at there being a forty minute long-distance bill to the Telethon.

She called the phone company and reasoned with them, "Why in the world would we call and talk for forty minutes when all we were doing was to  call to make a quick pledge"

That sounded rational to the operator. So they removed the charge from the bill and we got a free forty minute phone call to Seattle to talk to Spock, for free. She thought that was cooler than our getting to talk to Leonard Nimoy and would mention it from time to time. She had gotten one over on "Ma Bell"!

Later we were pretty proud of ourselves too, as by the end of the series, Spock had somehow become the hero and we wanted to see him in every scene. Kirk was still cool too, though. But from what he has said, Spock becoming so popular annoyed him too. As he put it, he was hired to be the star, not Nimoy! But Kirk would always be my screen dad. I had a few of those back then. But where Kirk was a surrogate father figure, as he was for the entire crew of the Enterprise, Spock was my surrogate. I wanted to be Spock, to be like him. Emotionless, analytical.

It was some years later when my mom, annoyed with something I said, as I was being cool, detached and calculating, and probably accurate, she said: "You think like a machine. It's like talking to, to... Spock, or something."

I was so proud.

In later years however, after the military, while I was getting a degree in Psychology, I realized being emotionless wasn't all it was cracked up to be. "Bones", Dr. McCoy on Star Trek, had a point, as did Kirk in their arguments with Spock. And it was something that Spock noticed on screen, too. Human emotions, when handled properly, went a long way toward making good decisions, in addition to being strickly analytical.

And so I came up with my belief that I needed to follow my mind, but allow that to be governed by my heart. To follow only one, or the other, has landed me in problems time and time again. But a proper consideration by both, always seemed to give me the best answer to my problems.

Well, to wrap this all up, I will end this article with this, also from 1968, Leonard Nimoy doing:

"The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins".

"Live long, and prosper."

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