Girlfriend Natasha and I are Star Trek nerds.
Some of you already know this.
We’re not the full-blown “know-every-word-to-every-episode-and-attend-every-Star-Trek-convention” kind of nerd, nor have we ever adorned the Christmas tree in mini versions of the Enterprise and its shuttlecraft, but nerds all the same. Our personalities are opposite in many ways, yet Natasha and I have found common ground in clean eating (not counting last Tuesday’s chocolate donuts), exercising and watching Star Trek episodes on Netflix.
The almost nightly exercise in Vulcan salutes and unknown ten-cent words that turn into “Where do they come up with that stuff?” sentences began when Natasha and I started sharing rent in July of 2014. Actually, the year prior, roomie Natasha had watched all seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation over several months. I remember I was a bit jealous, although I suppose I could have easily signed up for Netflix and joined her in spirit from several miles down the road.
Anyhow, after I had moved in, unpacked and was somewhat settled, the local Star Trek Geek Convention began. As Natasha had recently watched TNG, we initiated the convention with the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine series. Captain Sisko, Kira Nerys, Odo, Jadzia Dax, Worf, Quark, Dr. Bashir, Miles O’Brien, the Cardassians, the Bajorans, and the many versions of Weyoun entered our living room somewhere between 8:00 and 8:30 p.m. This cast included some of my favorite Star Trek characters, although I was not a fan of Terry Farrell’s departure from the show (which left Worf once again without his love and mate) and the casting and character of the subsequent Dax Trill symbiont, who was weak and whiney.
I don’t remember how long it took us to get through DS9. I suppose I could have kept track on a calendar, but that’s a bit too weird, even for this nerd.
On to Star Trek: Voyager and Captain Janeway’s bun. I don’t know what the stylist was thinking, but giving Janeway the hair of a 1880’s librarian was not cool. Yes, she was to be characterized as a strong woman, but not with a bun. Please. When this series originally aired, I had a crush on Chakotay. Watching the series twenty-some years later, I thought Tom Paris was the hot one.
(Perhaps I am a bit too weird.)
Paris’s holodeck program of Captain Proton had me chuckling with memories of the old black and white Flash Gordon adventures with Ming the Merciless. The former husband, being almost thirteen years older than I, used to watch Flash Gordon re-runs on whatever-channel-it-was while I rolled my eyes at the awful acting and special effects.
After Voyager ended, we quickly made our way through three seasons of Enterprise and Captain Archer. Through DS9 and Voyager, Natasha and I found several ways to laugh at the cheesiness of the Star Trek series. Enterprise was no exception. Our main “Ohmigosh, that is so lame” moment was always when the crew used The Grappler. You see, in the early days of Star Trek – before Captain Kirk – the Enterprise did not have a tractor beam. Instead, a cable and a hook/clamp thingie emerged from the underside of the ship. Cracked us up every time. Lame.
The pointing and laughing and fond memories continued as we pointed and laughed at the original Star Trek series with Captain Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Chekov, Sulu, Scotty and the eternally crabby doctor, Leonard McCoy (affectionately known as Bones).
“Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a magician!”
Natasha and I giggled at the continuous purple and pink and psychedelic colors used in the sets and fake skies. We snickered at the number of women Captain Kirk kissed. We howled when Scotty would cry, “Captain, I’m giving her all she’s got!” We smiled over the coolness of Mr. Spock, while being a little sad that Leonard Nimoy is no longer on this earth. Natasha and I tried counting the number of tribbles and hummed along to the opening theme song. Although the original series lasted for only three seasons, this will always be my favorite version of Star Trek. It’s similar to the Coke event of years ago. You can try and make a new version, but people always prefer the classic.
By now you are wondering what this Star Trek meandering has to do with Captain Picard and wine. Well, I shall tell you.
Natasha and I are more than halfway through the Next Generation series. We recently witnessed Data’s ode to his cat, Spot, as he tried to dazzle his shipmates with poetry. (Data didn’t dazzle, but I give him kudos for writing in iambic heptameter because I don’t know what the heck that means.) Through it all, we’ve come to recognize one glaring event that repeats itself almost every episode. Captain Picard loves to tug his shirt down (as does Riker and a few other characters). Often, as Captain Picard rises from a seated position, both hands grab the bottom of the shirt and pull. I did not remember this event when I originally watched the series back in the 90’s and Natasha didn’t pay much attention the first time around with Netflix repeats. Perhaps the camaraderie of two nerds made the difference. Once we started paying attention to this, the comments began.
Look! He did it again!
It didn’t take long for me to utilize Google and determine the reason for the constant shirt tugging. It seems that the forward-thinking Gene Roddenberry, creator of the Star Trek series, decided to use the futuristic fabric known as spandex for the crew’s uniforms. Unfortunately, the fabric created many issues, of which you can read about HERE. The spandex uniforms were uncomfortable, they bunched up, rode up and were smelly and unflattering. The spandex was eventually replaced by wool gabardine to take care of the smell and the uniforms were redesigned to be a bit more flattering.
In the meantime…
Because the spandex uniforms constantly rode up, Patrick Stewart, as Captain Picard, began tugging the shirt down while filming. And others, including Number One (Riker), followed suit. It was a necessity of bad fashion design. Behind the scenes, this action became known as The Picard Maneuver. The other Picard Maneuver.
The “official” Picard Maneuver was a battle tactic invented by Starfleet Captain Jean-Luc Picard. In 2355, Picard was in command of the USS Stargazer when it was attacked by an alien Ferengi vessel. The Picard Maneuver was born out of desperation during the battle. The Stargazer, which was damaged, suddenly accelerated into high warp directly towards the Ferengi ship. By doing so the Stargazer appeared to ship’s sensors, for an instant, to be in two places at once. When data from the newly-moved ship reached the Ferengi ship’s sensors, data from its previous position was still arriving, so the Ferengi effectively “saw” two Stargazers in different locations.
The conflicting and rapidly shifting data caused the Ferengi to target and fire on the wrong vessel, and since the Stargazer opened fire as soon as it dropped out of warp, the Ferengi ship had no time to maneuver out of the way before the phasers and photon torpedoes hit. The Ferengi ship was destroyed. This technique was so successful that it was named after Picard, and there was no known defense against it until 2364.
This is more than you really needed to know, right? And you are still wondering about the wine, right? Saturday, as Natasha and I were shopping at the local mega grocery store, my roomie had an idea.
Hey! Let’s get a bottle of Marco Negri (our favorite sparkling Moscato). While we’re watching Star Trek tonight, we drink a shot of wine every time someone pulls down their shirt. What do you think?
Brilliant! Natasha is a genius! Yes!
And, so, we carried out our plan. We had to watch two episodes, because The Picard Maneuver was only enacted twice during the first one. Thankfully, the second episode was about Mr. Scott being rescued 75 years after he placed himself and a shipmate into the pattern buffer of a transporter.
No, Scotty did not pull down his shirt. However, Data gave him a bottle of green alien alcohol that he proceeded to drink. Well, hey, if Scotty can have a drink, so can we! Salute!
Two Star Trek episodes, one bottle of wine, The Picard Maneuver, and two very
weird special nerds. This is the voyage of a long-winded tale that many will not understand. If you are still engaged at this point (Dan), welcome to the land of the science-fiction nerds. You know every Star Trek series, every Star Trek character and shout “Live Long and Prosper!” at the neighbors. You belong to a special club that never denies its love of a future filled with replicators, strange aliens, and bad costuming.
Wondering if you need to run to Netflix and watch episodes of Star Trek: TNG to witness every shirt tugging event? Well, if you want to. Or, you can simply watch a video.
Wine is optional, but highly recommended.