My new diary (see previous post) fell open at a quote from the other Spock, that evil twin, Dr Benjamin. ‘Happiness,’ he says ‘is mostly a by-product of doing what makes us feel fulfilled.’ So far, so asinine. Except that he didn’t make my mother happy and he made me miserable.
I can’t remember exactly when it was – teenage years, and I expect after I had thrown some tantrum or other – that my mother came out with this statement, by the end of which she was nearly in tears: ‘I think it may be my fault that you Turned Out The Way You Did. You were my first baby and I relied on Dr Spock’s book [Baby and Child Care, 1946] to tell me what to do. He said not to pick up a crying baby, so I stood outside your room, for hours sometimes, crying myself, listening to you cry. But I dared not go in and pick you up.’
Now, as hurtful information this works on multiple levels. The first to hit me – unintended by my mother – was the realisation that she did not regard me as a lovable or normal child – that I had ‘Turned Out’ in some way. Until that moment, although I sensed I might not have been their preferred option, child-wise, I had not understood that they regarded me as actually defective. I’d known since birth, of course, that I had been dumped here from some spaceship or other – all of us aliens know that. It’s like waking up in the middle of a football match. You don’t want to play but there seems to be no off-football-pitch alternative. Everybody’s bellowing and running for no obvious purpose and you wonder how come they have the rules and I don’t? That’s just not fair.
The second hit was – how could you have been so stupid as to follow the advice of some ghastly man on the other side of the world (practically) rather than following your feminine instincts? Even with a first baby – why didn’t you just pick me up for God’s sake? Didn’t you know…? But of course, she didn’t know.
The third was, how dare this Man… with his well-meaning but totally defective advice place such a burden of guilt on my mother for all these years?
So, I didn’t like him. It may well be that my mother misinterpreted Baby and Child Care. I haven’t read it, and probably won’t. It may well have been a misunderstanding, a misreading – or self-justification.
Then Star Trek came on TV and I discovered Science Fiction. The first Star Treks, as anyone watching them nowadays can see, were pretty disastrous. Only slightly better than the first Dr Whos for wobbly scenery, weird costumes (aliens often seemed to be a sweaty greenish colour) and a shiny studio floor showing through underneath the plastic boulders. I couldn’t be bothered with Captain Kirk. Kirk –pfft! A fig for your Captain Kirk and his swashbuckling ways.
But I developed an instant affection for Leonard Nimoy which has never dimmed in spite of his death a while ago at the age of – I believe – 83. And for Spock, of course. It wasn’t just those ears – though they were fascinating and – let’s admit it, ever so slightly sexy. It was the fact that he was wise, and gentle and alien. When I imagined my Guardian Angel, it looked like him. He came from, in some sort of way, where I had come from – or where I would have felt at home.
So, if a Vulcan vessel happens to be passing, do feel free to Beam Me Up.