The passing of Leonard Nimoy last Friday got me thinking, as the death of a well-loved celebrity so often does. I recently published “Mr. Spock Was My First Crush” on Talking Writing. Here’s an excerpt:
I’m a longtime Star Trek fan, going back to high school in the 1970s, when I watched the original series in reruns every weekday night. Nimoy created a character—the resident alien of the Starship Enterprise crew, never at home with himself, always battling the human emotions his logical Vulcan half is not supposed to feel—who firmly resides in this geek girl’s interior. His struggle wasn’t just romantically appealing; it spoke to my own internal divisions at the time, including my desire not to be constrained by gender conventions.
It’s no accident that Spock resembles my own father when he was young; tall, dark, austerely handsome. My dad, very close in age to Nimoy, passed away a little over a year ago. A sensitive man, he kept his feelings under wraps and wrote poetry toward the end of his life—as did Nimoy in his later years. In 1967, when Nimoy told the Boston Globe his Vulcan alter ego was “a pretty groovy guy,” he could have been describing my father: “[Spock is] very compassionate, intelligent, curious, logical.”
You don’t need a Freudian link to a Spockish daddy, however, to be drawn to this kind of guy. For bookish white girls, in particular, this was and is catnip; Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes is just a current variation.