“Are you scared?” my dad asked.
I nodded. I was 7.
“Do you want me to turn it off?” he asked.
I peered out from behind the sofa. “No!” On TV, a giant cave floated through space about to eat the Starship Enterprise. “Leave it on!” I ducked behind the sofa again and then peered back. Dad laughed.
Thirteen years later, another Star Trek movie came to my hometown. I was home from college for the summer. Dad and I had seen all the other Star Trek films together (and Star Wars). They were the only movies he and I agreed on. “Dad,” I said. “You want to go see the new Star Trek movie?”
“A. can’t come.” A. was his live-in girlfriend (now wife).
“She doesn’t like space movies,” I said.
“I know. But it will hurt her feelings if I go to the movies without her.”
“Dad. She’s out of town. For a week.”
“But I can’t go without her.”
I tried to match this with the A. that I know. She’s not like his second wife. She wouldn’t care if he went to a movie with his daughter. “Dad. She doesn’t like Star Trek and she’s out of town.”
“What do you want for dinner?” he asked.
“Don’t you want to see Star Trek?” I said.
“There’s chicken and yellow rice. And green beans.”
I went to see Star Trek V with my mom. A love for space movies, as far as I ever knew, was the only thing my parents had in common.
The other night my dad called. “Hey Dad,” I said. “I saw the new Star Trek movie last night.”
“Yeah?” he asked. “How was it?”
“I loved it.” I told him a little bit about the plot. I didn’t tell him I went by myself or that I took my novel with me to edit while I waited for the film to begin.
“Spock was my favorite,” he said. “I liked him because he was always logical.”
Some characters stay with you for years–why? Think of characters you love (whether from Shakespeare or Gene Roddenberry). Why do you care about them? What do they mean to you? Do you like them because they are similar to you or different? Do they make you laugh or cry or feel something new?
I can only hope that one day I can create one character who stays long in someone’s life.