When I was in middle school I was an outcast. I was not the popular kid: I was not the athlete, the kids I was friends with I had very little in common with, and I didn’t even listen to the kind of music other kids listened to. Hell, at one point even the kid who listened to Punk Rock made fun of me for listening to Powerman 5000 and called me a freak. Needless to say in my middle school years I felt very alone and like a “freak.” It was during these years that I discovered a series of shows and movies under the banner of Star Trek that would affect me until this very day. My point of view and opinions are often drawn from Star Trek. Politics, religion, basic human decency, and more all derived from the philosophy of Star Trek.
Back when the CW was still UPN, actually it was probably still the WB at that point, there was a marathon of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes on one Saturday that was hosted by Will Riker himself, Jonathan Frakes. I was instantly fascinated by the and it’s concepts. Granted, it was a “Best Of:” marathon and i would later find even Star Trek had episodes that could bore me sometimes but I was hooked none the less. While I watched this marathon I would learn that my Dad is a Trekkie. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a Trekkie is usually a fan (or die hard fan) of the Star Trek series. He started with the original series, TOS for short and moved on to the Next Generation. I think I was too young when The Next Generation, TNG for short, was on the air to understand so he never introduced me to it. So I think my Dad was happy when I found it on my own and really enjoyed it.
I’d previously seen TOS episodes and never got it, so I think there really is a prime age for introducing kids to Star Trek. So in my awkward middle school years, Star Trek spoke to me and my feelings of loneliness and not having a place to belong. Suddenly, I was part of something bigger than myself. Even though I didn’t personally know anyone but my own Dad who watched Star Trek, I was part of the Trekkie community. With TNG being off the air, I soon became obsessed with Deep Space Nine, or DS9 for short. (You’ll figure out all these shows have abbreviations!) Oddly, I think DS9 was the one Trek series my Dad never got into. I loved the cast of characters immediately. Sisko, DS9 and my own Captain, was a father trying to balance work with being a father like my own Dad and I found an immediate connection. Odo, Kira, Bashir, Dax, O’Brien and even good ol’ Worf drew me into a world where religion, war, politics, espionage, and even general life problems all took center stage. If TNG was my gateway drug, DS9 was what hooked me for life.
Soon after, I realized Voyager existed as well, and many weekday nights were spent with my Dad hoping the Voyager crew would make it home to Earth from the distant Delta Quadrant they were dragged to. At the end of Voyager I was given a problem. For the first time since I discovered it, there was no new Star Trek on TV and DVDs of seasons at the time were VERY expensive. But it wouldn’t belong before there was something new and different, a prequel to the entire Star Trek saga simply called Enterprise. Set 20 years before the original series, Enterprise had no phasers, no shields, and while they did have transporters they were scared to use them! After a few seasons though I found myself in High School and suddenly realized I was “Uncool” for being a Trekkie. Today I can say I am ashamed of myself for walking away from Star Trek.
At the time outside of Star Trek, Pro Wrestling was the only other thing I REALLY shared with my Dad at that age. By High School my brother was off to college and I was suddenly too cool to enjoy the things I’d previously enjoyed with my Dad. As an adult now, wrestling has passed my Dad by but I love the times we can talk Star Trek. Whether it’s the new movies or the classic TV series I will never forget that my Dad brought Star Trek to me which helped me through tough and awkward years in middle school or that it would be something we both would continue to enjoy until this very day. Star Trek to me has taught me a lot but it has also given me something I can enjoy with my Dad for the rest of our lives. Star Trek Beyond and the brand new TV series will both come out this year, so I look forward to spending more time talking Trek with my old man.