You’ve Never Had A Friend Like Me
Although I love Robin Williams’ version of the classic Aladdin song and admittedly get a bit winded near the end, my thoughts gravitate towards how Star Trek has shaped the way in which I am a friend. I, like most people, have “layers” of friends. There’s the let’s-grab-coffee-once-a-quarter friends, there’s the college friends that DM every now and again to comment on a post, the work variety, the school mates… to name a few, although where I’m most influenced is in the area of the friends whom I have made family.
I recently revisited Star Trek: The Motion Picture because this, in my opinion, is where we learn just how deep the connections are between the triumvirate of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. However, what has impressed upon me the most is the Kirk/McCoy relationship.
Throughout TOS, I got a feeling that this was a crew that respected the chain of command and each other. There were moments of levity that gave the audience the feeling that they were not only a crew, but friends as well.
However, it’s my assertion, that, as Admiral Kirk takes over the center seat of the newly redesigned Enterprise (she is, by the way, “my” Enterprise), we learn that there is more there than just a shared history. No scene encapsulates this hypothesis more than when there’s a particular crewmember not willing to beam over for duty and Kirk hurries down to the transporter room to make sure he does. The blue shimmer of the beam reveals McCoy, clad in last night’s disco ensemble, bearded and patting himself down to make sure his body has rematerialized properly.
McCoy’s face says it all; he’s not happy. One, for having to beam over and, more importantly, because he apparently was, as he exclaims, drafted back into service. Ultimately, the good doctor, spewing piss and vinegar, succumbs to Kirk’s simple words… ”Dammit, Bones, I need you.” What’s displayed right there in front of us is simple. Kirk didn’t have Bones drafted back into service because he needed the best doctor in the Alpha Quadrant. Kirk needed his buddy, his confidant, his wingman, his brother-from-another-mother.… I could go on and on, but you get it.
I’ve always considered myself a good friend to others, willing to help when asked and if it’s within my abilities. Over the past two years, I’ve rekindled a friendship with “Lee”, whom I met when I was in my early teens. We have a lot of history, and I believe the test of a real friend is that, even though there’s a gap in communication, you pick right back up as if not a minute has passed. That’s what happened with us. Last year, Lee hit a rough patch and his life was turned upside down. Suffice to say, he got pretty low. Bottom line, I made a promise to myself that I would not give up on him, no matter what. I called and sent voicemail. I texted and didn’t see any bubbles come up. We’d make plans and he’d blow them off. I always knew it wasn’t personal. He just needed his space to process and decide how he was going to handle himself. When he called, I answered immediately. When he texted, I texted back, post haste. That’s just my nature… That’s my job in this relationship, to just be there and listen, then to counsel. In retrospect, I learned this by watching, absorbing and emulating my role models on Star Trek.
In exploring the relationship between Kirk and McCoy, I particularly like that Bones couldn’t care less about rank and Jim knows it. That’s what makes them so good together. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Kirk tells him outright, ”Don’t mince words, Bones. What do you really think?” to which he got exactly what he needed – candor and compassion. A few weeks later, as the beloved Enterprise enters the atmosphere of Genesis in a flame of glory, Kirk again leans on his consigliere… ”My God, Bones. What have I done?” And without missing a beat, his friend responds with the emotional support the admiral needs at such a grim time. “What you had to do. What you always do. Turn death into a fighting chance to live.” There’s the banter in The Voyage Home in the Bird-of-Prey about time travel, the quips in the brig during The Final Frontier, and relying on each other while escaping from Rura Penthe in The Undiscovered Country. These are merely a few of the many instances throughout Star Trek where the audience is emotionally invited in to experience just how special these people are to one another as friends who are family.
The situations, words and actions of these characters made an impression on me, long ago. As I have matured, these scenarios that demonstrate honesty, loyalty, and a whole range of emotions became more than just entertainment – they became examples, and damn good ones, if you ask me! So, to all my current and future friends, call, text, email, send smoke signals if you must… but know this: if you need me, I’ll be on the next transporter pad, clad in my finest disco boots, with a bottle of Romulan ale… because that’s what Bones would do.