Da and I go to a lot of movie together. It's a tradition that started right after his divorce from my mother. Sometimes, at least at the beginning, we pretended that the movie outings were commemorative or at least occasional: the first few X-men movies because they were released in theatres right around my birthday... the Lord of the Rings movies because they came out around Christmastime and we both had nothing better to do...Hellboy because Guillermo del Toro directed it, and any such movie is an event in and of itself. But the real reason, and the sad truth, is that they were mostly movies that no one else would see with us. Because, you see, Da is gruffly scary and, for awhile anyway, I was mistaken for someone who was cool. We had reputations to maintain. Sort of. And the movies we wanted to see were based on comic books, or sci-fi/fantasy, or foreign and really artsy. We like the stuff we like.
The man raised my sister and I on Star Trek, Doctor Who, Monty Python and the literary miniseries that PBS used to make based on 19th century novels and the works of Shakespeare. Libby and I were already pretty nerdy by nature: I liked looking at bugs and reading far more than little girls ever really do, and my sister was preternaturally good at mathematics and mechanical engineering even before she was in kindergarten. But our parents added that dose of geekiness that has lingered in various ways with both of us.
We were all nerds. Even my mother, who was, and still is, quite beautiful by most standards and who grew up in a very straight-laced, conservative, military household. I think she took up with my father and had nerdy little babies in small part as a way to embrace her natural, and up to then subdued, theatrical form of geekiness. Such was our family. Two former hippies and their two barbarian bluestocking daughters. We owned all the Star Trek movies and series of Doctor Who the moment they were released on video tape, and this was back in the time when the cost of VHS was prohibitive. We reenacted great battles in the back yard with dowel rods and the garden hose. We were read Grimms Fairy tales at bedtime. The real ones. The stories with blood in them.
The place where Da and I bonded was Star Trek, though. He explained to me the history between Vulcans and Romulans, why we knew Spock was evil in the alternate universe because of his facial hair, how Mudd always escaped consequences, generally. It was ... okay. Apart from The Wrath of Kahn, most things having to do with the original series were just fun background. Because, you see, my life was changed in September of 1987. I was ten years old, and Star Trek: The Next Generation had its television debut. I was riveted. Riveted. Da, though being an Original Series man himself, sat and watched it with me. Every week, no matter what else we had to do. Sometimes he'd grumble that Patrick Stewart should have stuck to the stage, and how he had seen Stewart with the RSC several times when he lived in London, and how, had he known then what he knew now, he would have warned the man. I ignored poor Da. Because I had fallen in love with an idea.
Now, I wouldn't say I am either a trekee or a treker or anything even close. I have never dressed as a Klingon and I've never been to a convention and I've never written either a fan letter or fan fiction. I just, as I said several paragraphs ago, like the stuff I like.
My sister escaped all this, bless her. She's more of a Star Wars fan herself. She is more able to hide her geekiness, and she has all but shed her nerd-atude. My husband has a theory: Star Wars fans are less geeky because their fandom started in movie theatres, forcing them out of their basements and into public where they were forced to interact with other people. I think that's sort of an unfair assessment, but Chris is a Star Was fan and therefore biased to say the least. My sister is still a bit of a genius, striking as our mother and as theatrical as both our parents, but she is fairly normal, preferring booze and pirate films over comic books and sonnets. She would never stay up until one in the morning arguing with our father over the Picard/Kirk question. (This is the only time I'll say this: while Kirk was admittedly The Man, Picard was the better captain. I have a whole rap on it, actually. Yes: THAT level of geek. Sorry.)
And Da is maybe a little disappointed in me for loving Next Generation over the original. But lovingly. There is always, when we speak of Star Trek, an undercurrent of playful, passive-aggressive war between us. I will give you an example, which ties us back in to the first subject, Da and I going to the movies:
When Generations came out in theatres, Da and I went to see it opening weekend. It wasn't too bad, though it suffered a bit from The Curse of Alternating Trek Films. About twenty minutes in, Patrick Stewart has his arse handed to him by Malcolm McDowell. As we watched Picard lose his stones on the rocks, Da leaned over and whispered "Kirk coulda taken him." I snorted. Then, fifty minutes later and thanks to one of those mind-numbingly, awesomely awful space/time shenanigans that always happens on Star Trek, William Shatner shows up and takes the bad guy to the cleaners. Of course. Da didn't say a word. He just turned slowly in his seat and gave me a look, one eyebrow raised.
Chris and I, for one reason and another, can't have kids. But we can and do have dogs. We are animal people, him being in the veterinary field and me being a little childish and naturally good with fuzzy mammals. We talk to our pets like people. Sophie-Pig, our pug, is a bit more my baby in the same way that our black lab Dakota is more his girl. I don't know if it's because of the moving things on the screen or because she actually is watching, but The Pig likes to sit with me and watch Star Trek streaming from Netflicks or Hulu on my computer. She likes to lay on my shoulder with her chubby, whiskery face pressed to my cheek, both of us only illuminated by the glow from my laptop. Even considering that household treat the animal companions like people, and even considering our general household geekiness, I still think it maight look strange if viewed from above: a pudgy gypsy and a small, squash-faced beast curled up in the easy chair; the gypsy's lips next to the dog's soft little ear, telling her not to be afraid of the Borg because they aren't real, about how it's okay to think Jonathan Frakes looks like a gorilla, about how the holodeck is suppose to work; and the little beast seeming to listen to every word, following the spaceship across the screen with her little bug-eyes.
I just hope she doesn't grow up to be a Voyager fan.....