Thursday, May 19, 2011

Friends Part I

My friend Joe was like a brother to me. We met at one of those humongous hardware warehouse stores: I worked in the Paint department, and I believe he was over at Electrical. We were casual acquaintances --very much of the "Hello, Goodbye" variety -- and didn't really talk much. But, after one day coming up to me and apologizing for being so dismissive over a warning I gave him a few weeks earlier about a certain coworker who was a back-stabbing bastard, our friendship was galvanized. For you see, Joe was a fiercely loyal fellow, and took offense that I would dare to say bad things about someone he thought he knew so well. So, after being burned by the aforementioned bastard, he came up to me and apologized, and invited me to hang out with him and a couple of his friends (who later became very good friends of mine, as well), as those who are often burned do.

"Is there drinking involved?" I asked him.

"Yes. Beer," he responded.


Joe and I became thick as thieves: I would be the calming force and the one who challenged him intellectually, the godfather to his daughter, the only one he ever really trusted and loved as a brother. I was more Spock to his fiery Bones, with both of us having the slick intensity of Kirk-- which, of course, led to many battles, threats, haranguing, snarling, and the severing of our friendship countless times. But, after a while, one of us would ring up the other, and all was well. Until the next confrontation. Like I said: brothers.

The man was a talented guitarist, and was a vastly better player than I was. He'd teach me what he knew, and I would learn it, thinking that I now knew it all, and then he'd go ahead and dazzle me once again with yet another flashy guitar riff, the rascal. We learned Beatles songs together, working out the vocal harmonies, and at social gatherings it was expected for Joe and I to break out the guitars, and play a little something. And it was also expected for Joe and I to laugh louder, joke more, worry less, and have our cups filleth over with more beer than anyone else.

Joe knew of my fondness of Star Trek, and would poo-poo my trying to minimize my Trekkie-ness. You watch the movies all of the time, he'd say, why do you try to deny you like it? He was right, of course, but at the time I was trying to have dates with women, and, in those days, being an outright geek was social suicide. Yes, I cared about how I was perceived, so shoot me.

In any case, back in '94, I was excited to see the upcoming, first big-screen adventure of the crew from Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG).  By this time Joe and I have been friends for years, and he always felt left out of the Trek loop. What is this show that my friend watches all of the time? he probably thought to himself. Over the years, and when it was just he and I, strumming our guitars, trying to figure out the clever guitar bits, every once in a while I'd share my thoughts on the original Star Trek, and on how, among other things, it taught me about friendship and loyalty, and on how I viewed my friendship with Joe in the same way. We'd then get embarrassed, and play another song. Sissy stuff, you know? But after years of friendship, Joe was now curious about Star Trek, and thought that Star Trek: Generations (GEN) would be a good starting point.

At the time, I wasn't too well versed in the varied details of TNG, as I was always out and photo © 2007 Dimitris Kalogeropoylos | more info (via: Wylio)
06 Star Trek The Undiscovered Country 1991about when the show was airing. Sure, every once in a while I'd catch an episode or get a hold of a VHS tape that had a couple of fresh (to my eyes) NextGen episodes, but I was all about the Classic Trek films in those days. Loved them, in fact. I owned the tape to The Undiscovered Country (TUC), and offered to watch it with Joe, as a sort of primer to Trek; but it was also a way that, after years of friendship, to finally let him into my private arena, and share a personal passion with this man who was my best friend, with the caveat that he was not to bust my chops if he thought it was too dorky. But it was all for naught-- he appreciated the commentary on US/USSR relations, and thought the subject matter as a whole was quite the big screen story. (And the effects weren't too shabby, either!) He "got" it. And so, after being sure he really did "get" it, I told him I'd go with him to see GEN... which was a mistake. The movie didn't have the sweeping class of the Original Series films, according to Joe, and for a non-fan of Star Trek, let alone science fiction, in general, there were too many things that were not clear. I saw his point. Hell, I agreed with him.

We never saw Star Trek together again.

Joe and I have lost touch over the years. He has since re-married, and they had a child together. She already had a young son, and Joe had a daughter from his first wife, so it was a menagerie of children. I couldn't relate: we couldn't have long drinking sessions deep into the night, and the guitar playing would wake up the baby. Phone calls were made with less frequency, and barely returned, until finally, they stopped. Admittedly, I was the one not answering the phone, but I think we both knew that I was doing what was necessary. He had his family, and I mean, real family, not friends who chose to consider each other as such, and I think he didn't really know where me and my bohemian ways fit into this new domesticated scenario of his.

I had lost my friend, and my brother. And for years it felt as if I didn't have a family of my choosing...until last year, at a Trek convention, when I met my Trek Sister, and her entourage filled with ne'er do wells, super-geeks, and quirky chicks; I have since maintained those friendships through various forms of social media (read: Twitter). These people are my friends and my Trek Family... I mean, my real family.


  1. The blood rushed outta my head & I didn't breathe for a minute. I'm touched--no verklempt. Honored to be called your friend, and Trek Sister. I love you!

  2. ummm...quirky chick? Very nice!