I didn't think I could milk another tale from last year's Star Trek convention in Vegas, but while I was watching the Star Trek series after Deep Space Nine, and before Enterprise, and seeing the what-has-been-described-yet-never-really-saw-as "courageous" Mayan Native-American First Officer of the Intrepid-class vessel lost in the Delta Quadrant, this little morsel came to mind.
Now, years ago, I dabbled in the theater arts, and I loathed dealing with the audience after the performance. I never liked chatting with them, and after the play would finish, I'd purposely wait in the dressing room, taking my time to remove my make-up, and if by the time I finished some folks were still outside, I'd open whatever book I was using as research, and read, baby, read. And my reasoning for this was two-fold: I didn't like how they looked at me as if they knew me, and, more importantly, I detested the questions ("Why did you say that that way?" "Why did you do that?"), because the answers were my tools to pull the role off, and I'd be damned if I was going to share my creative soul with them. Besides, who really wants to know what the actor thinks about the story? I mean, really? It's about the viewers' perception, and that, at the minimum, what they leave with after seeing the play should be slightly different than what they brought into it...
I say this because I have a teeny-weensy inkling of what it means to be asshole-ish when it came to dealing with theater-goers/fans. So when I heard that [the actor who portrayed the "courageous" Mayan Native-American First Officer of the Trek show from the late 90's] was a jack-ass on the Star Trek convention circuit, I nodded my head, and thought that it was silly considering that in the grand Trek scheme of things, with all of the wondrous people that populate the Trek-verse, that his character was so vapid, but I didn't really give it more that a passing thought. They say he's a jerk? Okay. Whatever.
Back to the 2010 Trek Con in Vegas: Saturday morning. My friends and I were having our morning coffee before the day's festivities, and were seated at a choice table that was smack dab near the main walkway, giving us a prime location to people-watch. As we were gazing at the folks walking past us, some in costume, others in "civilian" clothes, I saw a Caucasian male hovering around middle-age, who was about average height, average build, with dark-but-graying hair slicked back, wearing a Command Red Starfleet Duty Uniform, and had the same tattoo on his face that the aforementioned Mayan Native-American First Officer had.
We got his attention, called him over, and he told us his tale...
"I was a big fan of [the late 90s Star Trek show with the beautiful theme music composed by Oscar-winning film composer Jerry Goldsmith] and when I started going to conventions, I noticed that there weren't any other [Mayan Native-American First Officers] running around. So I asked the wife—"
"Hold it!" I interjected. "You're married?"
"Yes," he said.
"Okay, go on."
"Yes. Where was— yeah. I asked the wife to paint the tattoo on my face, and I put on the outfit, and thought that I could pass for him. And here I am."
"How long have you had the outfit before you actually put it on?" I asked him. I was curious.
"Not for long. Months, maybe" he responded, and then continued: "I then decided that I also was going to get an autograph from [the actor who plays him], seeing as he was going to be at an upcoming convention in the East Coast."
"Are you from the East Coast?" I asked.
"Yeah, I'm from Jersey. Anyways, stop interrupting me."
"Whoa. You really are from Jersey!" [we laugh together] "Alright, so, you're getting an autograph from [the actor]..."
"I'm standing in line, in full costume: new black boots for the occasion, freshly-pressed uniform, hair slicked back, and, by now my wife has been practicing, so the tattoo looks phenomenal. I figured [the actor] would appreciate my being the only guy dressed up as his character— a character, mind you, that I admire, filled with nobility and spirituality, and had real heart— and here I am, next in line, and I'm nervous but with steel nerves, you know? Been through scrapes and all. But still, you know? Anyways, I walk up to him, photo in hand, looking like a million dollars, and he looks up at me... and grimaces"
"He grimaced at you?" I asked him, mortified for him.
"Yeah, he grimaced at me. He then takes my photo — you know the one, the stock photo from the show, him with his arms all akimbo — and as he's signing my photo, he's shaking his head. I don't know what the problem is at this point, and when I reach out to take the photo, he looks right at my face, and asks me, 'How old are you?' and I tell him, and he looks at me, puts his head down, and I hear him say, 'Jesus.'"
"He said 'Jesus'?"
"Yeah, 'Jesus.' I'm kind of like in shock, like something happened and I missed it, but I knew it was important. I'm walking away from the line, autographed photo in my hand, and then it hits me: Robert Beltran is a dick."