Trekkin’ with the Stars

One of the fabulous things about living in Nashville is how many awesome things there are to do for free, if you keep yourself aware of what’s going on. Case in point: The Star Trek Convention at Opryland Hotel. Located less than 5 miles from our house, Opryland features a wealth of people-watching opportunities on any ordinary day.

But this was no ordinary day.

Hundreds of people from around the country gathered to celebrate science fiction’s finest: Star Trek.

Having accidentally gone to a Star Trek movie opening night back in 1996, we have come to realize a true Trekkie has a passion for not only knowledge of the series, but of costuming as well. While we are not Trekkies or even Trekkers (Did you know the difference? Neither did I, until Ken explained it to me this afternoon.), Ken has seen every Star Trek episode of every series. I, on the other hand, have probably seen all of the original series, most of Next Generation, and well, it really trails off after that.

What we do really appreciate is the enthusiasm of Star Trek fans, who celebrate a subculture that is rich in characters, scientific theory, and imagination.

Plus their costumes are pretty cool.

After a tip from an employee, we made our way to Opryland Hotel, and found free parking, but paid ample compensation for its use in the hefty walk that we had to embark on to get there. We had no idea where we were going to, until said employee tipped us off to which ballroom we were looking for.

With determination on our faces, and curiosity in our hearts, we walked through at least three other conventions with purpose, so as not to be suspected as intruders. Finally, we made it to the mothership: a lobby lined with booths filled with Star Trek merchandise, and costumed adults and children wandering around with pride.

We have no idea if we were allowed in, but seeing no signs posted otherwise, we walked in. We soon found a booth selling ID tags from every nerdy drama series on television from 24 to Big Bang theory to NCIS. And of course Star Trek. We purchased two tags to identify our own inner nerdhood. Ken chose an ID tag from the USS Enterprise, and me, from the Dharma Initiative. Oh yes. They supported all forms of science fiction.

Once we had our tags and made it around the booths, we began to feel more comfortable and started to take pictures. One thing that we immediately noticed . . . okay, that Ken immediately noticed. . .  was that FANS were dressed in costumes, where STARS were dressed in street clothes.

Ken attempted to get his picture with some guy who played a mythical creature from Deep Space Nine, but instead ended up with a costumed guy who HAD just taken his picture with said mythical creature.

Then I saw a gathering of ladies from various generations of Trekking, and I had to take pictures. Then I asked if I could join for a photo. Ken took a picture, and then I noticed that there were close to a dozen other people who had gathered and were taking pictures of me with them as well.

I was totally confused. Why would they want my picture?

Until Ken pointed out to me that STARS were in street clothes. My apparel, combined with my non-matching name tag had apparently pegged me as a Star Trek STAR!

Oh no, I thought, if they ask me a single question about Star Trek, I’ll fold. I can’t maintain the fan facade if they question me or ask for an autograph! I became desperately aloof.  Ken started an engaging conversation with the agent who represents all Star Trek Captains, and I wandered off, praying that no one would ask me anything, even though I was apparently famous.

Soon, the crowd thinned out as William Shatner began his apparently hilarious keynote address. We too, went our own separate (and free) way to the remainder of the hotel. Though the photo ops were now gone, we had just had a great Star-Date.

(Get it? Star? Date? Stardate? We had a great Star-Date? Oh well, go ask a Star Trek fan.)

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