GCSPrank Is Here

For people who spend the day saying and writing things that others accept, while thinking things that are infinitely more interesting.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Star Trek Solitude

The dorm's two towers had 11 floors each and shared a common lobby. To one corner was the snack room and directly across from that was a small TV room, the set mounted high on the wall.

The room was usually empty and I thought that was because the semester had begun and people were busy with fitting in, class schedules and catching up with friends. That probably wasn’t it, but I did notice a time when the room was usually not empty.

Channel 24, an independent station out of Memphis, had one sure-fire hit: Star Trek. Every afternoon, from 5 to 6 PM, the original series—Kirk, Spock, McCoy, et al—would transfix a room into silence. As I had yet to engage in exploration, the sight of old friends—even fictional—was a tiny relief.

We’d start filtering in at about 4:30, when either The Flintstones or I Dream of Jeannie was on. My first day, I sat near the far wall and noticed that no one caught my eye as they came in. Not one hello, to me or anyone else. As 5 PM loomed, one or two chairs were brought in and placed with almost geometric precision away from all the others. The episode began.

It was a good one: “The Wolf in the Fold,” a nod to Shakespeare and Jack the Ripper. It was suddenly very interesting to me, but more so became the behavior around me. Commercials came and went without a word. No sarcasm, no wise-ass quips, nothing. Star Trek was always good for starting an exchange of remarks for it was often a clever, well-written show that dared to have a message, but in this group, opinions went unpronounced.

As the show ended, the instant the last line was uttered, two of the group bolted out of their chairs and were out of the room before the credits were rolling. The others left one at a time, some even sitting back if someone got up at the same time. I waited until the next show started and walked out.

For a week, I watched Star Trek in that room. Although the group was never the same in composition and size, it was exactly the same in behavior: no eye contact, no remarks, no acknowledgement that anyone else was in the room. The TV as security blanket, speaking only to each person in the way he craved.

I never stepped inside the room again as I discovered other, newer, voices and minds around me… and I chose to sit amongst them.


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