My memories of Mr. Nimoy

2015.03.02 | Random

It’s been a couple days since the world lost Mr. Nimoy, and not many people who know me now, know that I have a deep connection with Star Trek.

Sometimes it’s embarrassing to let people know this information, especially if someone willingly laughs at you for being in an inconsolable state of drunken shock when the news finally settles in one’s heart.

Yes, this has already happened to me.

But I thought, ignoring the ignorant, I’m finally able to put words to digital paper to talk about my connection to a television show and an actor who has been a part of it.

Every time we lose one of our heroes, a little notch is taken out of our souls. It makes us less than whole and it’s just a matter of being patient enough to walk through the pain and brush off the wound so we can keep going.  God help me when Mr. Koenig reaches this point. Seriously. I’ve packed away some Xanax and a paper bag for the day. But that’s a different story.

I’ll just begin by saying that my personality is probably 50% Star Trek and 50% parental upbringing. Where my parents faltered, a television show about survival, equality, peace and the love of science took their place.

Star Trek is also how I started my fascination with writing.  My father, having moved away after my parent’s divorce, knew I was lonely the first time I left my home state to visit him. At 12 years old, he bet me 50$ I couldn’t write a book by the end of the summer and having fallen in love with Star Trek the previous year, the math was simple. I wrote about what I loved.  I turned in, I don’t know, 200 pages of hand written Star Trek melodrama with a stolen nemesis from Flash Gordon to boot.  Funny how I never got paid for that until many years later.  But I did get paid. I was given an immense gift. A way to escape all worries, a safe place to explore and just be myself or anyone else I wanted to be.

Fast forward many years, after educating myself in theatre and film, I ended up as an assistant stage manager / production assistant at South Coast Repertory for the play Six Degrees of Separation. Marnie Mosiman, an actress in the production was/is an amazingly talented woman who just happened to be married to John De Lancie.  I figure if you’re a trekkie/er, I don’t have to explain any identities, nor explain the internal storm of raging excitement I hid every day of the production.

After some unusual days in rehearsal, (John de Lancie was pacing in the hallway with what appeared to be fumes hovering over his head, at least that’s what I was imagining when I sent our unsuspecting production intern out to figure out why he was upset or here for that matter), I came to the realization that this entire production would probably be touched by Star Trek, my secret love, my comfortable tattered sweater I wear when no one is around.

I wasn’t wrong. Many faces of Star Trek came through the backstage doors during production, and each one was a pleasure to talk to and not about Star Trek. I wasn’t stupid, I was cool, or at least I thought I was. I kept my ST questions behind the doors of convention hotels, safely locked away in their proper place. Don’t be the GEEK, Stacy.  Inside, I was a spaghetti and meatball mess of course, but it was fun throwing off some actors from the show (ST: VGR) because normally no one recognized them under all that make up.

Then one day, I think it was during the last week of production, Marnie let loose that Mr. Nimoy, THE ONE AND ONLY LEONARD NIMOY, would be gilding the halls of South Coast Repertory with his presence on the last show of the production. Many amazing actors have walked through the halls of SCR, but in my head, none compared.

I’m pretty sure when she told me,  I held my breathe and smiled, saying ‘lovely, that’s great, I hope I get a chance to meet him and his wife’.   Marnie promised she’d try to help make that happen.

Cut to the final show of the production. I can barely think or carry on a conversation with anyone I work with, and thankfully by that point, most of my cues were so ingrained, I couldn’t forget them.  The last show was as great as the first and the actors filed out to their dressing rooms for the final time.  As they got dressed back into their street clothes, I stood backstage pacing, because I knew what was happening next. Staff would lead Mr. Nimoy backstage to the green room to await Marnie.

I could not move my feet to the green room.

Why couldn’t I move? Why was I pacing backstage while I’m pretty sure a couple of my back stage crew enjoyed watching me buzz back and forth talking to myself.

Many people find it easy to ask questions at a convention. The actor they love is safely behind a “wall” of expectations, so there’s a form and dress to it all, you know the drill.  You’re surrounded by 3000 other people in the same boat, so it’s easy.  Back stage in the green room I knew there was just this person, this actor I had spent many many years adoring. I have to treat them like a human being, not some god. So you see the internal struggle and conundrum?

Marnie had promised to introduce me but time was waning backstage, no one had come to retrieve me so I swallowed hard, trying to create a voice that wouldn’t crack when I left to go find them.

I entered the green room and sure enough Marnie stood there with Mr. and Mrs. Nimoy.  What did I do?

I placed my arm around Marnie’s shoulders and asked her “So, who are these friends of yours?”

DID I JUST ASK THAT IN MY HEAD OR DID THAT COME OUT OF MY MOUTH????   Nope, woman, you said that. Don’t puke. Doooooon’t Puke.

Luckily, I was spared because Mr. and Mrs. Nimoy were use to this nonsense over the years. They melted my internal horror with handshakes and a pleasant conversation about the play and other places they had seen it to compare against what they had seen at SCR.

And that was it.

After they left the green room I lamented to Marnie, that I hadn’t had a chance to ask a certain question of Mr. Nimoy. I said it felt weird because it was somewhat related to Star Trek and it felt improper to blurt it out.  She said she’d try to ask him, and get the answer for me. So I told her what I wanted to know, hoping she’d email me with the answer.

The show closed, I went about my next few days getting ready to start another play and forgot about my question.

My question if you’re wondering was simple. What ever happened to a short Mr. Nimoy had directed about Chang and Eng Bunker, the “Siamese Twins”. Mr. Nimoy had attended a tour of Star Trek conventions showing off this lovely short and beyond the convention I had never heard of it again. I just wanted to know where this gem stood.

After a few days, the event of meeting a hero, safely tucked away inside my heart as a top 10 moment, I came home and the answering machine was blinking.

I pressed play and then knelt on the floor, unable to breathe because Mr. Nimoy had called my house and left a long message…answering my question.   I had to listen to it several times to understand what he was saying because well fuck, LEONARD NIMOY LEFT A  MESSAGE ON MY ANSWERING MACHINE!!!

It occurs to me now, 18+ years later, that the message was recorded not on tape as I had thought (I’m still wondering), but on one of those DAMN digital contraptions with only a battery back up to save what was on them. I know I saved the message for quite awhile, but I don’t think I was able to archive it.

That’s my memory of Mr. Nimoy. It’s a good one for me. I’m going to miss him and his good work in this world, as I do every actor who created this fantastic world for me to live in when I was a child (and adult).

Thank you, Leonard. You and your wife have both touched the world and we’re better off for it.

I suppose you may want the answer to that question?

Mr. Nimoy explained that the short was a sales tool. He had wanted to create an entire feature film about Chang and Eng Bunker and after showing it around town for so many years, and after receiving no bites, he simply moved on to his next project. That’s a pretty typical answer from any filmmaker. But as a fan of his work, I still want to see that film, and I guess as a writer, I have seen it in my head already, but I still want to see it.





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