Column: Star-struck by Star Treks Spock
On the evening of Wednesday, July 9, I encountered my very first celebrity.And this is no B-list rookie. This is an acclaimed Hollywood legend who has re-created himself from actor to director, poet, writer, musician and most recently, photographer. Im originally from small-town Pennsylvania (if its not Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, its safe to say its a small town) where a celebrity sighting is, well, kind of a big deal. So its a shame I didnt recognize him until after the fact, but let me explain.I was on the clock, trying to absorb a complex utility district special board meeting. It didnt exactly cross my mind that I was sitting in the same room as a notorious former half-vulcan character. When everyone was dismissed, I scurried outside to catch a few Lake Forest homeowners for some feedback. I spotted a cluster of folks who had spoken out during the meeting and made my way over in hopes of receiving a striking, clear-cut quote. (Every reporters fantasy.)I smiled, introduced myself and asked what their thoughts were on the water system upgrade.A deep and vaguely-familiar voice responded boldly and I buried my head in my notebook, scrambling to record every word. Without lifting my eyes from the lined-paper, I asked the gentleman to spell his name. Its Leonard Nimoy, he said. L-E-O-N-A-R-D? I confirmed.Yes.And could you spell your last name? I asked, head still parallel with the ground. N-I-M-O-Y, he replied, as the others in the group exchanged a few glances and snickered at my oblivion. I finally lifted my head just in time to see him shake his in return before bidding farewell to his neighbors and heading to the parking lot. The remaining neighbors all smiled at me, half apologetically, half jestingly. (Im embarrassed to admit the next words that stumbled from my mouth, and keep in mind before judging me, I truly was focused on producing a solid story.)Should I know him? Who was that? I asked, searching the eyes of the group for an answer to end my unbeknownst foolishness. That was Spock from Star Trek! one blurted out.You must be from another generation, another replied. My mouth dropped slightly, my cheeks reddened and my only thought was, man, my dad is going to badger me for this one.I guess without the pointy ears, I didnt see it.That night, while feeling oddly star struck by my encounter, I pondered my next move. I needed an interview with Nimoy, but I didnt want to ask him over the phone and knew getting his number would be a challenge.The next morning, while meandering through the Lake Forest neighborhood, I knocked on the door of a person who I speculated was good friends with the local superstar. She encouraged me to pursue an interview, so I unveiled a letter for Nimoy I had optimistically prepared that morning.She hesitated before reluctantly giving me some shoddy directions to his house. Walking the few yards to the Nimoys, I stammered some words of encouragement under my breath and could feel the sweat start to glisten on my forehead. Im not sure why I was so worked up, how intimidating could Spock be?I raised my pointer finger and pressed the doorbell.His wife, Susan, answered. (I knew it was her thanks to some googling the night before.)Now, my mom was a proud, natural blonde and Im quite certain if she were still around, she would refer to my next fumble as a prototypical blonde moment.Is this the Limoys? I asked, immediately aware of my mistake. The Nimoys? Yes it is, she responded before I had time to stammer out a correction. Once again, my cheeks glowed with pure humiliation. Could you give this to Leonard? I stuttered, handing over the letter apologizing for my obliviousness and requesting borderline begging for an interview.She agreed and I walked away feeling slightly mortified, but proud of my tenacity.A few days later, a rush of adrenaline ran through me when I opened my e-mail to find a message from Mr. Nimoy himself. Leaving Tahoe for three weeks … Ill try to get to you when I return, he said.In anticipation, I promptly purchased his 95 memoir I am Spock, bought a couple of collectors-edition hologram Spock posters to have autographed for my dad and brother for Christmas, and caught up on some Wikipedia and Leonard Nimoy fan Web sites.Nearly a month went by as I waited with bated breath for my first celebrity interview. Meanwhile, I received a number of fictitious calls from a Nimoy impostor claiming he wanted to schedule the meeting. (Im on to you, Dad.)Then, one fateful morning, I opened my inbox to find a four paragraph e-mail from my A-list friend explaining his desire for privacy, blah, blah, blah. I immediately heard that ambitious, blonde mother of mine saying to me, nowhere in that e-mail did you see a combination of two crucial letters N-O! I still had a chance. A few nights later, I poured myself a glass of red wine (OK, perhaps maybe two or three glasses) and opened my laptop and proceeded to type, my fingers being fueled by my temporary red wine confidence.I initially voiced respect and understanding of his need for privacy, but went on pleading how the Truckee-Tahoe community would be proud to know hes an involved resident and would enjoy an update on his life and career. Plus, I added sheepishly, I didnt want to let my dad down. (I think that was the real clincher.)Less than 24 hours later, I nearly forgot about my red wine headache when I opened my e-mail and got the answer I was holding out for! Only there was one problem. The Nimoys were back in Los Angeles and the interview would have to be over the phone.I felt baffled, valiant and defeated all at the same time. A phone interview would do no justice feature stories are best complimented by physical descriptions and face-to-face encounters.I slumped in my chair, delivered the disappointing news to my editor and stared sulkingly at my computer screen. What am I going to do with two collectors-edition Spock posters and how will I explain my defeat to my dad? I wondered.I believe at that moment a light bulb appeared above my throbbing head. I sprang right up and began typing my response, warning Nimoy to expect a visit from a pesky-but-gracious Sierra Sun reporter upon returning to Tahoe next summer. Until then, I cannot resist raising my hand, parting my middle and ring fingers and declaring in honor of this sci-fi icon may we all live long and prosper. Jenny Goldsmith is a reporter at the Sierra Sun. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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