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On May 26, 1999, I made a special trek no pun intended out to the Westside Pavilion in L.A. after I had heard earlier in the day about a book signing held by none other than the great William Shatner, and I was very excited to meet one of television's most popular actors. I was never a huge fan of the original Trek series, but come on when you get the chance to meet Captain Kirk, you gotta take it.
Now, let me pause a moment to tell you about the overpriced hardback in question. I won't say that it's a bad book. In fact, I found it terribly entertaining. It offers plenty of interesting stories. But, the central idea behind it is Bill's revelation to what is really behind all the "Star Trek" fandom; it is his exploration into the mind and lifestyle of the Trekker. And from his investigation, he learns how truly important his fans are and how much they mean to him. Allow me to quote a passage...
Though Star Trek's fandom may be rooted in science fiction, it revolves, and thrives, around friendship, belonging, love, hope, and understanding...and [the fans] support every single one of us whose ever been priveleged to wear a Starfleet uniform. I can't possibly thank you enough.
First of all, I would like to offer a verbal smack to the editor of this book who should have been quick to replace the word "whose" with "who's." Secondly, I would like to offer Shatner an actual, physical smack for being a condescending, hypocritical son of a bitch. Or maybe not perhaps he really meant what he wrote; he can't possibly thank us enough, so he just won't try.
Let me explain. I finally get to the front of the line and can see the man of the hour through the display window. I check my camera, get ready to snap a picture with him, and try to think of the right thing to say. That's when I was dropped onto the conveyor belt.
No exaggeration. The whole encounter spanned the lean part of 4 seconds. It took you longer to read about it than it took to actually happen. I drove 45 minutes and waited in line for an hour to participate in a laconic and unintended exchange with a Waldenbooks employee. The best response my brain could assemble was, "Yuhhhh...." When I came to my senses, I realized I was ambling amidst a scattered crowd, all of whom were slowly sobering up to what had just happened. No "Hello." No "Thank you." Certainly not a "Who would you like me to sign this to?" Me, like most, he never even looked up at.
I pondered taking a photograph from afar, but his entourage quite effectively made me, and everyone else, feel sufficiently intimidated. Not one person that I can recall tried to snap a picture for fear of being booted from the store. Besides, there had to be something more coming. Perhaps Shatner wanted to quickly get the signing out of the way so he could visit with the crowd and take pictures with them, uninterrupted. (Let me relieve you of your suspense it didn't happen.)
One perturbed fan actually yelled out to the back of his inflated head, "Hey, Shatner! You 'Get a Life'!" The crowd was in accordance. We had all just been taken.
You might be thinking, "Well he could have been having a bad day." "Maybe he wasn't feeling well." Whatever the excuse, I'm sorry, I just don't buy it. If we had approached him in a restaurant while he was eating, that's one thing. If he were taking a leak in a bathroom stall and one of us bothered him for an autograph, I would expect his reacton to be negative. But, he was there specifically to meet his fans. We purchased his book, some of us with money we really couldn't afford to part with at the time. And why? Because we wanted to interact with an international legend. A "Hi, how are you today? I hope you enjoy the book," would have sufficed. It wouldn't have been much, but it would have made the trip worth it.
I contemplated returning the book, but thinking twice, I decided I should hang on to it. It might be worth something when he's dead.
My point? Well, I would just like to warn people in advance not to waste their time on this self-righteous boob. If you're a fan, great. Hey, I love the Star Trek movies. (Especially the one where Kirk gets knocked off.) But, unless you're into being snubbed by cocky celebrities, avoid him. In fact, do him a favor. If you ever happen to see him, let him know he's a prick. If you pass him on an airplane comfortably sitting in first class, shout out, "Hey, Shatner! You get a life!" And please, by all means, let us know about it by reporting it in the guest book.
My car is such a piece of Shatner.
I just got Shatnered!
That movie was real Shatner.
Please come up with your own. I encourage you to share them. And if you've had a bad experience with Bill, I'd love to hear about it! Or simply read others' entries in the Steaming Load of Shatner Guest Book.
Oh, and just one more thing. Shatner, those singing Priceline commercials are...well, they're a steaming pile of Shatner. Didn't you learn your lesson the first time when you recorded Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds?