Chicago Con Report by Grace
Never thought I'd do it but I've been to a "Star Trek" convention. And not just any convention - this was going to be "Leonard Nimoy's last ever convention appearance.
While I've been a staunch fan of Mr. Nimoy's for years, believe it or not, I'm a real newbie to the convention scene. While I'd hate to say that it was my "first and last", something tells me that without Leonard there, it simply won't be the same.
I arrived Friday afternoon, just in time for Connor Trineer's talk full of humor and then the autograph signing by himself and Dominic Keating. Dominic called me "Sweet heart" and Connor conversed briefly with me about a friend of mine and fan of his he's come to know over the years. (Note: While ST:TOS will always be my favorite, I must admit that "Enterprise" was #2 in my heart).
I was really taken by the friendliness and kindness of the people seated near me in the auditorium. Met a young couple in the row in front of me from Alexandria Virginia/D.C. (my home town) who were attending only their second convention and a young man sitting next to me from Boston who was also at his first. (Thanks again Jason for getting up every time I climbed into my seat.)
Saturday morning I awoke full of excitement as I would be attending Leonard Nimoy's "Secret Selves" Photography Seminar in the evening. And while in search of some good hot coffee to chase the "it's Saturday I should be sleeping in fog", who did I encounter in the hotel lobby? Tall and handsome even at age 80, there he was in the flesh, surrounded by family. I juggled the coffee, purse and cane to my right side, and flashed him an LLAP to which he immediately responded and gave me the most gorgeous smile I've ever seen on a man!! What a way to start the day!
Fortunate enough to have a front row seat, (Thanks for your help Bonnie!) I was only a few feet away from Mr. Nimoy as he spoke. That evening, during the Secret Selves Seminar, following the video presentation, Mr. Nimoy asked the auditorium about our personal experiences with our own "Secret Selves." One of the comments came from his grandson Jonah, who talked about his other self ,"the musician." According to Mr. Nimoy, granddad had just been told something he never knew about his grandson. Many of the comments voiced indicated that women perhaps still haven't totally broken through the glass ceiling. When called upon I finally "spilled the beans" to the former Mr. Spock. I told him that growing up in my family, becoming a "school teacher" was considered an appropriate career for a women and eventually I became a Speech-Language Pathologist. However I really wanted to be an opera singer. Unfortunately, my parents couldn't afford a vocal coach for me. Mr. Nimoy then asked how I felt about that? Did it make me angry? My reply was "Not really, I told him I sing for my kids and that music is a form of communication and in my profession I help people to communicate. So, I've found my life very rewarding." Mr. Nimoy replied,"So you got to do both, well good for you!" (What he and the rest of the audience didn't know was that outside of my family, significant other and a few best friends, I'd never told anyone that before. But here I was telling it to a room full of strangers and Leonard Nimoy!)
Well the good ole' Greek gods must have been smiling on both of my halves that night for my new acquaintance Jason informed me to go back into the auditorium as Nichelle Nichols, stalwart she is, was still signing autographs. (After four hours). So I got my 2011 Star Trek calendar signed after all.
My only regret throughout the weekend was the limited number of vendors available. However I did have a very interesting exchange with Arlene Martel, (T'Pring from "Amok Time") She had a DVD in her posession (the only one) of her and Mr. Nimoy starring in a 1960 series "The Hunted", Episode: "The Rebel", in which they both played, in her words," mountain folks." While they would not be able to show a clip of this relatively unknown work of hers and Mr. Nimoy over the weekend, Ms. Artel promised me she would attempt to obtain more copies for purchase on her website. (And I really wanted to see Leonard riding a horse again!)
Sunday was, shall we say a very busy day. Mr. Nimoy's final convention talk to his fans was touching as always. Prefaced first by a Star Trek 2009 cast tribute to Leonard, the ballroom roared with laughter when next the Bruno Mars alternate version of "The Lazy Day", music video was shown. Greeted by a standing ovation and thunderous applause, Mr. Nimoy again read some of his favorite poems, and by narration and pictures recounted his life and career on the TV screen, as well as in movies and threatre. Notably, he explained how important it was to be able to ride a horse for westerns and that in the TV industry one never says that one lacks any particular skill. He continued on addressing his early love of photography and how it has become his second career in life. As he came to the close of his talk he stated: "This is hard." "I thought it would be and it is." (This was the point when my eyes started to brim over and Jason reminded me that the photo op was yet to come.) Finally Mr. Nimoy thanked all of us for our love over the years, held up his hand with the LLAP gesture and said "May each and everyone of you live long and prosper." In response the crowd came to it's feet and held up signs saying "We Love You Leonard." 'Live Long and Prosper."
As I tried to compose myself, I rushed as best I could for the photos downstairs. When I came up for my photo with Mr. Nimoy, I put my arm around his shoulder and gave a little hug. Unfortunately, there was a tight schedule and I needed to return to the main auditorium for my autograph from Mr. Nimoy. Unable to obtain additional tickets, I chose to have Mr. Nimoy sign a picture of us taken together at his appearance, just this May at the B'nai Israel Congregation. As Mr. Nimoy was signing, I told him I would miss him but was happy for him. His response was that raised eyebrow and a quiet, gentle "Thank You."
Will I ever go to a Star Trek convention again? Well just like Leonard's retirement "time will tell." But also like Leonard, I've crossed "... one more thing off the bucket list."
Epilogue: Mr. Nimoy Tweeted me today about his hand drawn LLAP t-shirts. (and so much for retirement for Mr. Spock).