by Akim Reinhardt
Stuck is a weekly serial appearing at 3QD every Monday through early April. The Prologue is here. The table of contents with links to previous chapters is here.
During my late 1970s New York City childhood, repeats of Star Trek aired every weeknight on channel 11, WPIX. The original 79 episodes ran about three times per year, which means that, allowing for the occasional miss, I’d seen each episode about 10 – 12 times before reaching high school.
And so when I was 14 years old and my friend Erik suggested we attend a Star Trek convention at the Penta Hotel across the street from Madison Square Garden, I jumped at the opportunity. Shit, Leonard Nimoy was gonna be there.
I didn’t really know what to expect as Erik and I rode the bus downtown. But after a half-day traipsing through the convention, I realized there was something going on. It was more than just a bunch of people who really liked Star Trek. Throngs of hardcore fans obsessed over the show’s minutiae, and some even wore Star Trek costumes. I loved the show too, but I felt no sense of kinship with these super fans; in fact, it all made me uneasy.
This was the early 1980s, and the clichés about “Trekkies” were just beginning to develop: men who lacked social skills, couldn’t get a date, and lived in their parents’ basement back when a grown man living with his parents was considered a spectacular failing at adulthood. Today they are derided as geeks or maybe nerds. Back then they were simply losers. Read more »
by Akim Reinhardt
It was 1996. I was 28. I had recently moved to Nebraska to attend graduate school. I was at a party. I didn't know a lot of people. Maybe I didn't know anyone. One woman was talking about palm reading. Apparently she read palms.
Laughable, of course. But I didn't say anything, just drank my beer. There was this other guy though, in his early twenties. He said some things. None of it nice. How stupid. Don't be ridiculous. Duh.
Sure, yeah, I agreed with him. It is stupid. But do you have to be such a dick about it? This woman seems like a perfectly nice person, maybe even nicer than most. What's the point of insulting and belittling her?
I guess it was one of those moments when I recognized a younger version of myself in someone else and I didn't like what I saw. It's good to have those moments, even if they make you uncomfortable. Especially if they make you uncomfortable.
I finally spoke up.
“Why don't you read my palm,” I said, looking to break the tension and succeeding. I offered her my upturned hand. She smiled and took it.
My memory of what she actually said while examining my extremity is virtually extinct. The exact words? I have no idea. But I'll never forget the epiphany I had as she spoke. After a minute or two it dawned on my why this ancient practice, so obviously ripe for charlatanism, had lasted all these years.
She held my hand and said nice things about me.
Who wouldn't like that? Who wouldn't, when feeling a little sad or lonely, pay a few bucks for that?
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