Saturday, June 05, 2004

Spock Smoked

Leonard Nimoy circa 1976I was mad at Mr. Spock. My dad and I went through a phase where we attended all the exhibition shows that came to town when I was ten years old. We went to the auto show once and I saw the Batmobile and TV’s Barbarino, John Travolta, on the same day. This was a special day at the 1975 Kansas City electronics show and Mr. Spock, Leonard Nimoy, was scheduled to appear at three o’clock to talk about Star Trek. Despite all the precautions taken by show vendors to minimize electric shocks, there was no way to anticipate the shock Mr. Spock was about to deliver.

He wore a khaki jacket and slacks when he arrived with his electronic show entourage in tow. That wasn’t what I expected. I wanted him in his Federation uniform with the trademark pointy ears. He smiled right away though and I thought he looked friendly and approachable as he desended a staircase in the exhibition hall. I decided I’d accept Leonard Nimoy as himself. He stopped and put his hand to his mouth and took a breath. I swallowed my gum when he exhaled and a plume of smoke shot out of his nostrils.

Spock smoked! I was mortified. He huffed his cigarette like a madman. I missed the sight of the cigarette at first glance. He cupped the cherry like he was sitting in a foxhole in the Ardennes. Dad said only ex-cons and hardcore smokers did that. I couldn’t believe it. Barbarino hadn’t smoked when he came to town. This was outrageous.

He stopped at a staircase landing that overlooked the showroom floor. “Sorry I’m late. My carton of Camels got lost in the transporter.”

We went right to the Q & A. Leonard confirmed there was a Star Trek movie in the works and joked that Robert Redford would wear the pointy ears for the big screen. That got a small chuckle from the Redford fans in attendance but not from me. I couldn’t separate the character’s virtues from the actor’s habits. After some questions from the audience that included one from a knucklehead who asked about an episode of Mission Impossible, Leonard Nimoy flashed the Vulcan peace sign and left the building.

I never forgave Mr. Spock for smoking until now.

I forgive you Mr. Spock and Mrs. McAllister too. She was my 4th grade teacher at the time. That’s right, I saw you in the Roesland Elementary teacher’s lounge one day after lunch. Don’t deny it, Virginia Slim.

And God Bless you Barbarino. You set a Municipal Auditorium no-smoking standard that remains unequaled to this day. Come back anytime, and feel free to bring the Batmobile with you.

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