I love the entire Star Trek franchise. Only nine when the first series debuted, I recall propping up my head against a stack of pillows, my favorite blanket in hand, to watch the adventures of the Enterprise and her crew. My sister’s love for Chekov mystified me as Spock captured my attention with his devotion to logic and science. I dismissed the antics of the plastic characters in Lost in Space while I longed to join the journey “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
The rash and brash cockiness of James T. Kirk hooked me from the first episode. I loved his assertive leadership and boasting attitude. A Cavalier risk-taker, Kirk’s impetuousness influenced my playground spunk. I emulated his swagger in mock battles. I mimicked his self-confidence as I bossed other kids around. I fought against “aliens” and outwitted opponents with a mixture of wit, charm, and arrogance that guaranteed my popularity in the neighborhood. Small for my age, I learned from Kirk that acting first and thinking later edged my ability to hold my own among the older kids. With flailing fists or whipping jump rope, my brazen attacks against villains may have landed me in trouble with my parents, but no one messed with Lizzy during my Captain Kirk phase.
As an adult, a different captain of the Enterprise captured my interest. Star Trek: The Next Generation aired its first episode in 1987 with Jean-Luc Picard in charge. This captain didn’t have Kirk’s devil-may-care defiance. Picard, who learned from his youthful mistakes, provided a rational and diplomatic leader for his crew. He often displayed his boldness with subtle nuances that appealed to my grown-up Lizzy. Picard liked music, and art, and books. He understood consequences to his actions. He tried to think first and then act, very different from my childhood idol, Kirk. Picard entered my life when I had matured into relying upon negotiation to solve playground problems. His tact and discretion became traits I admired and wished, sometimes desperately, to claim as my own.
So when the question arises, as it inevitably does in Geek conversations, “Which captain of the Enterprise is better, Kirk or Picard?” I have my reasons for loving both. The child in me clings to Kirk with his youth and energy while the adult in me would love to sit and sip Earl Grey, hot, with Jean-Luc.
Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman