Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Planet Ethel in the Car Stereo System

A long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away... Missouri about 1989.... I was running a local chapter of a Star Trek club called Starfleet Command.  Our ship was the USS Altair and exploration vessel, and I was a Commodore.  We had an active core membership of about twenty, all ages.  We met monthly, celebrated holidays, had parties, made costumes, went to conventions, had fun.  I was asked to speak on the technology behind the USS Enterprise at a convention in Indianapolis, and two club members Caroline and Debbie wanted to car pool and all go together from Kansas City.

My mother, bless her heart, made me the most beautiful hand made Star Trek uniform (from Wrath of Khan) so I could appear as a true Starfleet Commodore.  She based it on a crappy pattern we bought from Gene Roddenberry's wife Majel, at Lincoln Enterprises, but she ended up having to make her own pattern because I was too fat.  She studied photos, and remade the jacket numerous times to get the shoulders and fit just right and made me look like a million dollars.  Thank you Mom for all your hard work.  All those hours we spent in your cold garage, but you did it, even down to the ribbed white turtleneck stick up collar dickie, and the chain edge of the blouse, everything was perfect.  She is a master seamstress.  I still have the uniform jacket hanging in my home.  Anyway, I digressed.

Caroline and Debbie and I did not have much money so we packed my tiny sports car, really only two comfortable seats, with cooler of food, electric skillet, drinks, luggage, costumes, everything we would need to enjoy a weekend Trek Convention.  The car was groaning (little Subaru XT6 '88 wedge shape car) and one of us had to take turns sitting in the back seat crosswise with our legs up on all the luggage.  So we took turns driving and rotating seating.  Being a Silly Bunch as it was, we were riffing comedy bits about things we saw on the way, and when we reached the Missouri river crossing area near Columbia Missouri, some road signs inspired me. "Hey!" I said, "why don't we be secret Indian Tribe members for rest of trip and we'll adopt Indian names from these road signs, they kind of sound like Indian names."  So the gals agreed and I let them choose first picks, so Caroline became Falling Rock, Debbie became Watch For Fog and I was left with Ice on Bridges.  So the rest of the trip we called each other those names, but never explained them to anyone else.  LOL

As we approached Greater St. Louis and started consulting our map, and I was driving and the gals were arguing about which route to take, I was thinking we needed some gas, so I said "We better head to Planet Ethyl pretty soon."  This got one of the gals to decide that Planet Ethyl was in the Car Stereo System.  (star system)  So that was our destination instead of Indianapolis.  We'd ask each other how far to Planet Ethyl, etc. etc.  We had so much fun!  It made the cramped car almost bearable.
One last thing about the trip, the last day of the convention, Sunday afternoon, I was still in my uniform from my talk, and we were loitering in a room full of humongous space ship filming models, oohing and ahhing on our way out of the hotel, and a little boy and his mother came in the hotel door, obviously he had missed the convention, but his mother had brought him anyway to see the free display of ship models.  He shyly came up to me and held out a Star Trek magazine and asked me if he could have my autograph!  He thought I was an actor from the Star Trek movie.  I was so touched I did not have the heart to tell him, so I signed my autograph and told him that we needed men like him and I hoped he joined Starfleet.  He ran back to his mother wide eyed and so excited.  I told my mom that her expert tailoring and costume making had made a very nice thing happen for a little boy.

Copyright 2011 VROUK

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