I Am Spock… And I’m Not the Only One
This may come as a surprise to those of you who only know me through the blog, but I’m not actually the brash, charming, devil-may-care, always-gets-the-girl action hero that I seem at first glance. No, really, it’s true.
Growing up, it was always clear to me that I was sidekick material. I am not Superman with his chiseled jaw, or James Bond with his savoir-faire. And I’m definitely not James Kirk with his swagger, authority, and raw charisma.
I am Spock.
And Spock is friggin’ awesome. The ultimate guy-behind-the-guy. Smarter than Kirk, stronger than Kirk braver than Kirk, more complex than Kirk. An altogether more interesting and compelling character than Captain James Tiberius Kirk could ever hope to be.
I won’t compare watching Spock while growing up to an African-American kid seeing Uhura or an Asian-American kid seeing Sulu, because as a little white boy there are things I never had to experience and will never fully understand. Nonetheless, watching Spock was inspirational to me. He taught me that you didn’t have to be the archetypical alpha male (which I was never going to be anyway) to be the best damn hero in the universe. Skinny, brainy, and socially uncomfortable… Hell, yeah, that’s where it’s at. Even given the choice, I’d have wanted to be Spock over Kirk any day of the week.
Leonard Nimoy took a character who was deliberately one dimensional and gave him profound depth, who was written to be without emotion and gave him heart. And he did it without contradicting or compromising who Spock was. He made the character iconic and unforgettable.
And here’s another thing: My dad is Spock, too.
An intellectual heavy-weight, but reserved and stoic. The more I admired Spock as a kid, the more I looked up to my dad and respected who he was a person. He was serious, he was someone you could trust. He would support and stand behind you.
It’s strange how a fictional character can get entangled with your emotions for real people. Undoubtedly that’s why Leonard Nimoy’s death hit me so hard today. Not just because I loved the character he portrayed so brilliantly for so long, but because he’s a proxy for my dad.
Fortunately, my dad is still alive and strong. I got to watch him play with my five-month-old son this morning.
And there’s the heart of it for me. Leonard Nimoy, thank you for being Spock. Thank you for making this emotionless half-alien fictional character someone who I saw myself in… and someone who helped me understand the world—and my father—better.
However long I live, I will have prospered better because of you.