"Are you going to get Patrick Stewart's autograph tomorrow?" she asked me.
"No," I replied. "I get too embarrassed with the whole autograph-asking thing."
"Well, I am," she stated, with a tone that told me she's been itching to share that with anybody she came in contact with. "I'm going to get his autograph," she continued, "and then I'm going to ask him out on a date. I hear he's single again. And that he likes younger women..."
(This woman was in her early 40s, Caucasian, rail-thin, brown-haired, but still had her looks, and most important of all, she didn't have a crazy glint in her eye. I know crazy: I've worked with crazy, I've talked to crazy, I've loved crazy, so I'm a bit of an expert on crazy, and this woman didn't seem looney-tunes. And yet.)
This conversation between her and I was taking place at the Space Quest Bar, located inside the Hilton Hotel, and near to where Star Trek: The Experience used to be. There was a wall covering the gaping hole where it once stood, and my friends and I were tipsily scrawling our names on it.
We weren't the first.
There were other names on that sad, flimsy drywall— names that literally spanned the four corners of the globe. There were names I couldn't pronounce, a few were barely legible. And while some of the names were of individuals wishing one and all a prosperous and long life, most of the names were of collectives; groups of friends who chose to be immortalized together, as well as names of families, with infantile-scribbling towards the bottom of the wall, ostensibly done by kids who were allowed to do their stuff. Yet there were more than names on that wall: there were also drawings and poetry, with a smattering of quirky stickers and mysterious post-it notes. But, yes, it was the names that stood out to me. A heartbreaking amount of names.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, wore on seasons 4 and 5. The costume was spot-on, and I told her so, to which she replied:
"Why, thank you! I hope that Patrick likes it."
She wouldn't drop this "Patrick Stewart" business, which meant that there will be no invitation for her to come back to my hotel room that night. There began within me a burgeoning sense of sorrow for her and her quest. And yet now I question if it was for her, or for the Wall of
I said goodbye to "Mrs Stewart," wishing her luck. I don't know if she ever did ask the British actor out on a date, nor do I know if, after all of these months, that wall is still standing. My friend took a picture of our names on that wall -- I still have it somewhere -- and it is the one photo I own that is truly "worth a thousand words."