O Captain, My Captain

It’s become a rather silly tradition here on Simple Tricks to honor the improbably proximate birthdays of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, a.k.a. Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock from the original Star Trek series.

No, wait… scratch that. It’s really not all that silly to honor these men, at least not to me. These two actors — whom the common wisdom holds aren’t even especially good actors, although I, of course, disagree — exerted a profound influence over my developing brain during my early childhood. I think I can say with a high degree of confidence that their science-fictional alter-egos were my very first childhood heroes, along with Lee Majors’ Six Million Dollar Man, Bugs Bunny, and Ernie from Sesame Street. I simply cannot recall a time when I’d never seen Star Trek. My mother has told me she used to watch the syndicated daily re-runs every afternoon while she did the housework, when I was but a toddler. One of my earliest memories is of talking to a little girl in my kindergarten class about a dream I’d had involving Spock. (That girl’s name was Annette, and I still see her around town once in a while… I wonder if she remembers that conversation as clearly as I do, or at all?) Another is of the way the circular patterns in our 1950s-vintage kitchen linoleum reminded me of transporter pads, and how I used to stand on them and “beam” myself to other places in the house or yard. (This was accomplished by standing still for a time while making a buzzing sound, then running like mad to wherever I was going, reassuming the same pose, and buzzing a little more until I “materialized.” Yeah, I was a weird kid. I’m sure my parents loved it.) I could go on with specific memories that range up through high school, college, and well into my adulthood, but you get the idea. Star Trek — the One True Star Trek, as I’ve begun to think of it in the dark years since the 2009 reboot movie added “lens flare” to the popular vocabulary — has always been a very big deal in my life. And Shatner and Nimoy, in a very real sense, are Star Trek, even today after umpteen spin-offs, movies, and a completely new cast.

Plus it just amuses me that these two guys, who are forever connected in the pop-cultural memory bank because of their signature roles, are also same age, within a couple days anyhow. The captain always leads, of course. Today is William Shatner’s 82nd birthday. Nimoy will achieve that same landmark on Tuesday.

I recently had the pleasure of seeing his one-man stage show, Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It, and it is my greatest wish to possess half this man’s vitality in another 40 years…


Happy birthday, Bill!