Wednesday, July 20

The Beam Goes Out

Today one of my boyhood heroes died. Many people won’t know him, but to me he represents an important part of who I have become.

James Doohan, aka “Scotty,” was the most unsung of the Four Heroes of Star Trek. In my tweens and early teens, this show was the basis for fantasy, role-playing, and countless deep discussions of philosophy, the arts, and the future. At least as much as the mental wanderings of young men can be deep.

Some specific others will disagree, but being the oldest of four boys was tough. Male role models, both within the family and everywhere else, were tough to come by. I fear it is still true. But from Captain Kirk I learned a sense of wonder and to stand up for your convictions. From Mr. Spock I learned to disassociate myself from a given situation and see things rationally. (Still haven’t grasped that one very well.) From Dr. McCoy I learned to revel in life’s sensual pleasures, hold your passion like a burning torch, and that a smartass can be a lot of fun.

But my friends and I always knew that no matter how cool all this seemed, our primary heroes would have been squealing little grease stains on some forgotten world without Scotty. He was the glue that held everything together. He was the foundation of the house they all lived in. He was the one who lied outright about fixing stuff, saying it couldn’t be done. But get it done he did, and always in half the time he quoted, invariably because he inflated his estimates. I loved him. I loved him because he made me laugh. Because he refused to accept the impossible. Because he was always one step ahead of his superiors. Because he could grin with a screw-you attitude and get away with it. Without Scotty the grunt, the regular guy, the man who knew and still made mistakes, the Utopian future I so yearned for wasn’t possible.

So call me a geek, a nerd, a pansy, whatever. I don’t care. This was an important part of my growing up. It’s a large part of what I am today.

In one of Mr. Doohan’s last public appearances, he was lauded by none other than Neil Armstrong at a Hollywood Star Trek convention. Armstrong said he hoped one day to captain a starship, and if he did, he wanted Scotty on the crew.

Ironically, good ol’ Scotty died today, July 20, 2005, the 36th anniversary of Armstrong’s first step on the moon.

I hope you were beamed to the good place you wanted, Jimmy. Thanks. For everything.


test said...

I wasn't as big a Star Trek fan as you, but I still loved watching the show. And yes, Scotty was great. May he rest in peace.


jazz bird said...

I don't know if you saw this, but I thought it was pretty cool. It seems pretty fitting: