Ok, so I have this William Shatner story that I have to tell. If anyone knows Mr. Wheaton (or even has a TypeKey account so they can comment on his blog) and can pass along the URL, maybe he’ll get a chuckle out of it.
The scene is New York City, in the autumn of 1988. I had recently married Sue (9/9/88…. guess who picked that hard-to-forget date?), and my parents lived in NYC at the time. My dad was transferred there for work on a two year assignment and they decided to “live like tourists” for those two years and experience NYC to the fullest. Sue & I flew out from Seattle and stayed with them for about 4 or 5 days. Mom & Dad had met Sue just once, very briefly before we for all practical purposes, eloped, so this was a more formal “get to know Chuck’s new wife” visit. We too were swept up in the “Goolsbee’s Do Manhattan” theme. Sue had never been in NYC, so she was awestruck by it all. The whole time she was playing up her whole country girl persona and asking when we would see a celebrity. None were to be found. My parents took us and my little sister (who was in high school at the time) to a Broadway play. “Phantom Of The Opera” (I found it to be rather lame and overdone… but I guess all my years of art school ruined me for appreciating simple melodrama.)
So Sue & I were sitting in our seats, waiting for the show to start. My parents and sister were sitting in the row in front of us, a little to our left. Our seats were perfect (too bad the play sucked) right in the middle of this huge slice of parabola that was this very nice theater. Sue is chatting with my sister diagonally in front of her as I’m just sort of scanning around at the architecture. My eye catches sight of … you guessed it “WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER” edging down our direction from the right side of the theater, but two rows below. I nudge my wonderful wife and whisper, “You wanted to see a celebrity? Well here comes William Shatner.” I see my little sister’s eyes light up, and Sue says ‘Who is that?” I answer: “You know… Captain Kirk.”
What followed was one of those exquisite moments in time. Where physics seems to become irrelevant and time suspends and elongates. Here we were in a huge, crowded, acoustically perfect space. There were hundreds, if not over a thousand people all around us, every one of them murmmering their little conversations while they passed the time awaiting the rest of the crowd and the dimming of the lights. Sue, finally getting her wish, was basking in the presence of celebrity… even if she really wasn’t sure the stature of the celebrity she was in close proximity to. WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER (thanks Wil!) was accompanied by a woman, who was shuffling along the row of seats in front of him. Just as the two of them passed directly in front of me, time and space distorted even further and at that very moment came one of those silent pauses in a crowd where all noise ceases. It was as if every person in the entire theatre had just completed their sentence, hitting the terminal punctuation mark with a pause for breath, in a perfectly synchronous, simultaneous fashion. That silent pause was just long enough for all echoes to settle and be absorbed. At that very moment you could have heard a pin drop.
Except no pin dropped.
Instead my wife opened her mouth and uttered in her rarely used, but distinct Oregonian Hick tone:
â€œHe’s SO fat!!â€
Those three words filled the acoustically perfect, and perfectly silent-for-a-fraction-of-a-second-before-and-after, gigantic space of the theater. The words blurted out and orbited the space. They travelled at the speed of sound and reflected off every surface of that theater and were absorbed by every human being there. Eardrums wiggled and three tiny bones did their little jitterbug dance to the tune of my wife’s flat Oregonian-by-way-of Alaska accent. I felt like a black hole had just opened in the seat next to me and the universe did a huge optical zooming effect towards us. I gasped “Sue!” an instinctively shrank a few sizes in an attempt to blend in with the velour pattern of my padded seat. It was one of those moments that could have provoked an interstellar war lasting generations. Thankfully before a million sleek and horribly beweaponed star cruisers unleashed electric death, the vast murmur of the crowd returned.
WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER never even blinked. But the sleek and horribly beweaponed star cruiser female companion of his rotated her weapon turret towards my wife and flashed her twin phaser banks while narrowing the firing slits in a very threatening manner.
If looks could kill, I would have been widowed before my first anniversary.