In my defense I was a bit nervous, preoccupied, and psychologically ragged. I had arrived at her apartment following a 45 minute drive that began with my rushing off after coordinating schedules with AYD, AOD and their mother; nothing had meshed that day, and if time really does weave memories into a delicate tapestry then that day still collects dust as a pile of odd yarn. I knew her, but it was an early date; maybe number 4.
She opened the door wearing tall black boots and a dress that looked shorter than it was. The dress was a polyester retro-style number that would have been at home on the set of the iconic 1960s SciFi show Star Trek (TOS). Luckily the dress was not red.
Star Trek (TOS) was a wild ride through a galaxy controlled by whimsical physics. William Shatner as Captain James Kirk simply overacted his way from impossible situation to incredible explanation. It was not simply because I was still very young when the series was being wrung through what must have been a fourth season of rerun that I accepted the impossibilities as unimportant; though I doubt I would be so forgiving today. Gene Rodenberry (the creator of Star Trek) had created a series of compelling and topical stories. He could talk about racism, and communism, and the threat of nuclear war because he had them take place in far off parts of the galaxy, and so they were not real.
In its third and final season Star Trek (TOS) featured the first on-TV interracial kiss between leading characters. The episode (Plato’s Stepchildren) that included the interracial kiss scene first aired on the 22nd of November 1968; the same day the Beatles released the white album. The character of Lieutenant Nyota Uhura was played by actress Nichelle Nichols. Nichelle almost left the show after season 1, but was convinced to stay by trekky and civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.
Star Trek (TOS) was woven into the fabric of a tumultuous time. King was assassinated just a few months (4 April 1968) before Uhura’s kiss first aired.
To those of us glued to the TV Uhura’s kiss was more important than a simple nod to interracial harmony. It suggested that Captain Kirk might finally be getting over the loss of Yeoman Janice Rand who left the series after season 1.
When my date opened the door she projected more of a delicate Randian beauty than the unbridled sexuality of Uhura. I will not be surprised if my memories will be as crudely reproduced as Rodenberry captured Yeoman Janice Rand; soft focus and bright spotlight illumination of the eyes.
|Yeoman Janice Rand as played by Grace Lee Whitney|
When I saw her it just slipped out.
“My god you look beautiful!” I exclaimed.
I try and avoid the g-word in polite company. I was especially embarrassed as I had described myself as an atheist, and here I was invoking the name of some undefined super deity in an awkwardly stumbled compliment.
I was stunned and shocked.
I have a re-occurring dream where I am waking up just as a small garter snake crawls into my mouth. I claw fruitlessly at its tail as it slithers into my windpipe and a strange peristalsis pulls it in. Sometimes I even wake up in a panic, choking. Sometimes I barely manage to grab the tip-end of the tail with my fingers or teeth; sometimes it slips out of my grasp, and at other times the tip comes off, but always the snake escapes into my innards.
Saying the g-word when all I wanted to do was be some approximation of smooth and attractive was like the snake dream in reverse; only in a bad way.
I only used it in a reflexive figure-of-speech way. I regretted it as the words floated, almost visible with accreted embarrassment, to their intended target.
In retrospect the term “my god” was accurately, though accidentally, used in this situation. God references an often, and usually poorly, defined entity that can be anything, as long as it is great and powerful, to anyone. By implying ownership with the word “my” I create a term that alludes to ultimate control over an ultimate source of everything awesome. The fragmentary nature of the exclamation juxtaposes the “my god” with “you look beautiful”. The idea here, and I wish I had thought of it at the time, is that only ridiculously incredible constructs such as a personal all-powerful entity would compare with fact that such an attractive woman had opened the door for me.
I know that may be just a little over the top, but I’m okay with that.
Unfortunately I’ve still got to work on a justification for using the g-word three times in a single utterance:
“oh god, Oh God, OH GOD”