It’s not often that a science center dedication finds me sitting cross-legged on the floor in the very front, a drunk and swooning fan girl with my rapt attention focused on the speaker. Then again, it’s also not often that a Starfleet Commander graces Darby Gymnasium.
I found out that Walter Koenig ’58 (Chekov) would be part of the Noyce dedication about a week before it happened, then ran around ecstatically telling everyone I knew: “Walter Koenig! You know, Star Trek? Nuclear Wessels! On Friday!” Then someone gently reminded me of the last thing that I had been ecstatically excited about: “Oktoberfest! Amana Colonies! German Beer! On Friday!”
Upon waking up, I found myself faced with one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make. How could I pick between a party with free German beer and the fulfillment of my life-long Trekkie status? I asked the Captain (my roommate, Anna), who recommended Star Trek. But the German beer called to me and my only-just-recovering-from-study-abroad-in-Berlin psyche. Who else could I ask who would really understand?
Suddenly, I knew. The man who would truly understand my difficulty. The Ambassador Sarek to my Captain Spock, the Admiral Kirk to my Dr. David Marcus, the Worf to my Alexander, the Number One Dad to my special 12-year-old version of Picard in the episode “Rascals”!
On Wednesday afternoon, I called my German-speaking, beer-appreciating, Captain Picard action figure-owning, Chemistry professor father in his office. With no preamble, I posed my dilemma.
“Dad, what’s more important: Walter Koenig or Oktoberfest?”
Though he had not taken into consideration the physical limitations (my lack of a transporter being one of the most pressing problems), he was right! Combining the spirit of Oktoberfest with the nerdiness of Star Trek! Hell, I do that every week with the Star Trek Drinking Game.
Created sometime second year by the Captain, our friend Brock (Lieutenant Commander LaForge) and myself, the Star Trek Drinking Game is an integral part of a Friday afternoon. The basic rules are simple: drink for awkward sexual tension (two drinks for awkward sexual tension from beyond the grave) or when someone who knows the rules better says to.
I don’t remember what episode we watched that afternoon, but there were enough speeches about humanity from Picard or badass Riker moments that we quite happily wended our way to the Dining Hall afterwards. We took our box dinners straight to Darby Gym and eventually found ourselves right next to the speakers, less than twenty feet from Koenig’s chair. I have no idea what happened when Koenig wasn’t speaking.
When the program was over, it was our chance to finally meet him, a man of the stars and the stage. We ran to the door through which he had disappeared and learned that he had already left. Disappointed but not deterred, we deduced that following the line of distinguished alums would lead us to his next stop, where we sat on a bench outside the Dining Hall feeling out of place and anxious. We spotted him coming through the crowd and ran up to him. But now there was a new problem. What do you say? Luckily, the captain solved that one.
“Hi.” Giggle. “We’re really big fans.”