Wednesday, July 20, 2005

RIP: James Doohan

In not unexpected though nonetheless sad news, one of my boyhood heroes passed away today: James "Scotty" Doohan.

Link to CNN obituary

I won't get into what Star Trek meant to me as a kid. Like many things in my life that I've obsessed over to varying degrees-- movies, the Grateful Dead, Phish, Kate Winslet-- you either get Star Trek, or you don't. I long ago gave up watching the new stuff. Voyager, Enterprise and that ilk just made my feet itch and my underwear ride up. But my DNA is infused with the original series, and Scotty was far and away my favorite member of the Enterprise crew.

So in leiu of waxing philosophic, here's a little story about my personal encounter with James Doohan. This must have been in 1983 or so. Somewhere around the time between The Wrath of Kahn and The Voyage Home. My little preschool buddies and I learned that Doohan was going to be signing autographs at a local video store, so off we went.

Our moms drop us off at the store, and there we find a huge snaking line of geeks waiting to get in to see Scotty up close. We're looking at a two-hour wait. But hey, it's a nice day out, we have our sippy cups filled with apple juice, and besides, it's fucking Scotty, man. He's worth the wait.

So we get in line. We are entertained by a bagpipe player in full Starfleet uniform blowing out "Amazing Grace" to the delighted crowd. Hours go by. Finally, we are literally set to be the next group let into the store when the manager comes out and announces that the show's over-- Scotty is done for the day.

Crushing disappointment. But when the chorus of groans and boos reaches Doohan's ears inside the store, he springs into action. He steps outside. A mighty cheer goes up. We all go weak in the knees. It's fucking Scotty, man! Doohan spends a good fifteen more minutes outside with us, posing for pictures and chatting with the fans before a limo pulls up to take him back to his shuttlecraft-- guess the transporter was on the blink that day. We trudged away, happy to have spent some time in the presence of Mr. Doohan.

There's no moral to this story other than James Doohan seemed like a righteous cat to me. Course, I was only four years old, so I was easily impressed.

I wish I had a picture of that day. If any of you old droogs reading this post have a picture, send it to me and I'll post it.

James Doohan: rocking the comb-over since 1966:

Rest in peace, Scotty.


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