Tuesday, March 26, 2013

TNG: Yesterday's Enterprise

Today I watched, "Yesterday's Enterprise," which is a classic episode. Everyone's just hangin' out, exploring the universe and stuff and then, all of the sudden, an Enterprise C (the Enterprise from 22 years beforehand) appears. Next, we realize that our Enterprise has changed. It's a battle ship. Neither Worf, nor Deanna are on the bridge. Instead, Tasha Yar mans the security station.

The whole episode centers around Guinan's intuition that things are "just wrong" and whether sending the Enterprise C back to its own time (and near-certain death) is the right thing to do. Data suspects that if the Enterprise C had defended a Klingon settlement, at their own peril, that it might have lead to an alliance between the Klingons and the Federation. It's a big, powerful, intriguing episode and totally worth a look but, more than anything else, re-watching this episode just made me think about my own Enterprise of yesterday.

When I was seven, my parents split up. I stayed with my mom, moving with her to North Carolina and, while I did see my dad a few of times over the next couple of years, no one did a very good job of keeping in touch. So, when I showed up at his house to stay for the summer after two and a half years, we were relative strangers. Two and a half years isn't just a long time for a kid--it's an entire era. I felt like I didn't really know my dad anymore and I could tell he didn't really know me.

Thankfully, we knew something that we both loved--Star Trek. As a classic "freaked out single dad" present, my father gave me a Playmates Enterprise D. I remember looking at the picture on the box with my dad to figure out where the decals went and finally popping the batteries in and mashing the buttons on the back to make the warp, phaser, and photon torpedo sounds.

The toy is heavy and cumbersome but that didn't keep my nine-year-old self from running all over the place, holding it over my head, pretending to fly it through space. It was a well-loved toy. It traveled with me over several moves to new places and new houses and back and forth between my mom and dad's. It sat on my bookshelf in high school and then, when I went away to college, I left it behind. It ended up getting packed up and crammed into storage and, when I started this blog, I emailed my dad and asked if he knew where it was. He said, "I'll see if I can find it."

Lo and behold, it showed up in a box on my birthday. I was thrilled! It was filthy and grimy and when I pushed the buttons, it was totally silent. No lights. No phaser sounds. I tried to open the battery hatch but found that it was completely covered in corroded battery juice. I realized that these batteries probably hadn't been replaced since I was in high school and began to despair. I couldn't believe I'd let my beloved Enterprise fall into such a terrible state of disrepair. My husband said, "Don't worry. Maybe you can fix it up. I'll bet we can clean it out."

A few nights later, when I'd finally drummed up the courage to attempt a fix, I stood in the kitchen with my Swiss Army knife, a handful of Q-tips, and a jar of vinegar. I spent the next couple of hours working on my old Enterprise.

My dad also happened to send my old Vulcan ears
After a lot of stressful, careful work, I dried everything up and popped in some new batteries. I closed the hatch and, as I was turning the ship over and trying to prepare myself for the inevitable silence, I accidentally pressed one of the buttons. Psheewwww! The ship fired a photon torpedo at me and I jumped. My husband jumped and asked, "What was that?" 

"It works!" I shrieked and started to cry. My knees almost buckled as I set my dear old toy back down on the counter. I leaned against the cabinets and stared at the ship as I laughed and cried and remembered what it was like the very first time I heard the Enterprise--my Enterprise--make those sounds. I remembered that hot, summer day and a man who'd almost become a stranger to me saying, with the expectant tone of a dad who just really needs some reassurance that this whole parenting thing is going ok, "And this is the button for warp speed. Do you like it?" 

"Yes!" I said. And I still do. I love it. 


  1. Second time in one day that I've teared up reading your blog? What the heck are you trying to do to me?

    I want to give you a hug right now, and then I want to play w/ the Enterprise. I've never seen that Playmates model. What a tender story, and a beautiful picture.

  2. It's a tale of forbidden love, between a girl and her galaxy class starship ;P

  3. Such a good story! And I love how Bunny totally photo bombed the last picture!

  4. As a kid there wasn't much star trek toy stock available for me to have.. My parents did give me a model of the enterprise, complete with wiring for the lights in the nacelles. I loved that thing till it finally turned to dust after one flight too many.. That was the only toy I got... So as an adult, I have been buying all the toys I can afford. My allowance is about $90 a month, and you would be surprised at how little that will buy these days, especially in vintage toys. but now I seem to have amassed a considerable armada, along with a few plastic friends... I took some pics for my dad as he is too old to travel..


    Fun for anyone to look at. My office has turned into a trek-shrine.. I LOVE IT!!!

  5. Great story! I'm so glad it still works! (And I'm also glad that Bunny photobombed!)


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