Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Geek Genes

A few weeks ago I was taking the bus into Rochester, watching an episode of Stargate on my iPod, when I had a flashback to my childhood. When I was six or seven, I had one of those ubiquitous cassette tape recorders – the ones about the width and length of a shoebox and half as high. I often used it to record Star Trek (the original), which I watched in syndication almost every day. I’d set the recorder on top of the TV, and then wrap the mic cord once or twice around the channel knob so the mic dangled in front of the speaker. I recorded many episodes like this, jumping up to turn off the recorder during commercials. Later at night, when I was supposed to be asleep, I would lie in the dark and listen to the show using one of those little white mono earphones. I was geek before I knew what geek was.

A couple years ago I was team-teaching a programming class an hour and a half from home, and staying at a friend’s house one or two nights during the week. I had episodes of Trek with me on my laptop, and I’d watch them right before I went to sleep. I didn’t consciously think of it at the time, but I missed my wife and kiddies, and these shows were comforting. It seems kind of pathetic to have an emotional connection to a TV show, like I’m a baby rhesus monkey clinging to a wire mommy. But these are early memories of good times in the comfort of home. Even if I was hiding behind the couch, afraid that Kirk would not escape the doomsday machine, it's still a good memory. I suppose everyone my age has a show or two like this. For some it’s Little House on the Prairie, or Happy Days, or Charlie’s Angels. I have early memories of Charlie’s Angels, too, but they are not really warm and fuzzy. They’re…other adjectives.

We’ve been watching the old Treks with our kids. It’s fun and surprisingly educational for them—there’s a lot that needs explaining. It makes me wonder how much I understood when I first watched. Anyway, I get a real charge when my kids ask to watch a specific episode by name. Yeah, brother!

4 comments:

Marsha said...

I did the tape-recorder thing with the early 80s show Fame...and then played it back in front of my class at school. How embarrassing!

Rob S. said...

I did that with one or two shows, too. Can't think of what they were at the moment, though.

I also remember reading Flash comics out loud with my friend Dave into the recorder. The drama!

Don said...

Man, the fun you could get out of those. Kids these days...

Dave Perkins said...

I love this: "like I’m a baby rhesus monkey clinging to a wire mommy"