When I was younger one of the worst things you could be called was a “Trekkie.” In fact, in my group of friends we referred to a group of perceived losers as a “Star Trek Convention.” Being a nerd was something you were ashamed of back then. Cool folks would call those beneath them “nerds” like it was a filthy word.
But I lost the privilege of making fun of anyone who loves Star Trek or any other show several years ago. Not just because my own nerdy fangirl has blossomed or because I married a Trek-loving engineer but because I was completely shamed in front of a group of people that society had deemed to be the lowest form of losers on earth – Trekkies.
It was several years ago, before I was a mother or even married. My now-husband is a huge Star Trek fan (his cats are named Spock and McCoy) and when we went to Las Vegas he was adamant that we go to the Star Trek Experience at one of the big hotels. I really didn’t mind going, despite my mocking of Trekkies I secretly had fond memories of watching the original Star Trek and subsequent Next Generation and Deep Space Nine with my mother. (As a side note, I like DSN best but my husband always tsks me and says it was the worst of all the shows.)
So, we went to the the big hotel, lost some money in a Star Trek slot machine, ate at Quarks Restaurant and paid for the Experience. This involved walking along a long corridor filled with pictures and storylines from all the shows. There were dozens of displays filled with costumes and props. I found my husband giggling in front of a big green alien costume in a glass case. It was reptilian with a mouthful of sharp teeth (how did it chew its food?).
“That’s a gorn,” he said. “I sent a picture of it to my friends when we first started dating and told them it was you.” He’s such a sweetie pie.
Finally, we got to the actual Experience which was an interactive ride through several sets of various shows and ended in a virtual reality-type shuttle ride through space. Our group of “travelers” we walked with consisted mainly of overweight middle-aged men. I kept whispering jokes about them to my husband.
We made our way through the sets, complete with actors and storyline and then sat down in the shuttle for the big finale. Our seats shook and moved in alignment with the screen in front of us. But midway through, the ride stopped and the lights came on.
“Sorry folks,” said a voice over the loudspeaker. “It seems that somebody’s seat belt has come undone.”
Everybody checked their seatbelt. I gave mine a sharp tug but it stayed latched. A minute later, it seemed to be resolved because the lights went back off and the ride started up again. But, a few seconds later, the ride stopped and the lights came on again.
“Maybe we had a breech in the warp vector!” One of the trekkies behind me shouted and everyone laughed. Did I mention that we were probably the only ones there not wearing Trek t-shirts?
The announcer came back on. “Seat E5, please latch your seat belt.”
Everybody looked up to find their seat number. But I had already checked my belt and knew it was latched so I didn’t bother checking.
“Jeez,” I said to my husband. “How hard is it to put on a seat belt?”
He didn’t respond with words he just looked up at a spot above my head. I looked up at the number there: E5. I then realized that the everyone had gone silent and was staring at me with their Geordy LaForge visors and wobbly deely-bopper antennas.
I pulled at my seat belt again. Still latched. Then I pushed it together. Click. There was a millimeter of space in the latch that the sensor had picked up on. I sunk into my seat and contemplated suicide. Fortunately, the lights shut off and the ride started again.
The second the lights came on and the doors opened up I shot out of there like a Latter Day Saint at a Book of Mormon show. My husband followed me silently to the monorail. I wouldn’t look at him because I knew he was trying not to laugh and if I made eye contact he was going to explode.
Since then, the zeitgeist has changed and it has become cool to be a fangirl or fanboy. However, it is not now, nor was it ever, cool to be a jerk who makes fun of other people because of what they love – especially when you can’t even correctly operate a fucking seat belt.