This is a dangerous thing for me to say in my house — nearly as bad as, “Hey, can we trade the cat in for a dog, or a pet rock?” — but I was not a huge fan of “Star Trek” when I was growing up.
Granted, the spinoffs and reboots of the original series in which T.J. Hooker and his friends explored the galaxy (Or was it the universe? I’m not clear on their jurisdiction.) in their pajamas were better produced and naturally featured better special effects.
I was more of a “Star Wars” kid, at least until a bunch of muppets called Ewoks ruined the series by saving the galaxy in “Return of the Jedi.” The biggest difference between “Star Wars” and “Star Trek,” though, was that “Star Wars” was set in the past — a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. We couldn’t look forward to the days when we all had a wookie friend and a light saber, although droids are beginning to steal a lot of our jobs. And who cares about galaxies far, far away? This is America, and we don’t even care what happens on the other side of the Rio Grande.
“Star Trek,” however, was set in the future and was full of promises. It promised that someday all of us earthlings would come together behind causes that united us like exploring new worlds and shooting Klingons. It promised that someday we could all go to work in our pajamas, which sorta came true for many of us over the past year. It promised that someday instead of phones we would communicate via video screens, which also came true in the Zoom world of the past 12 months. Hmm, maybe we’re catching up with some of the other stuff we were promised.
Indeed, electric vehicles have made tremendous strides over the past decade, thanks in large part to the leadership of Elon Musk, a former Starfleet commander assigned to the Tesla Quadrant who was trapped on present-day Earth when his ship accidentally hit a Bajoran wormhole. I guess self-driving vehicles will always have a blip here and there.
Also, we all carry little devices on us that can tell us the weather, sports scores, the news, right-wing and left-wing versions of the news, the latest price of lumber, and whether anyone liked that photo of the double-chili-cheeseburger we had at lunch.
“What do you mean unhealthy?! You don’t know my life! Defriended!”
But where is my transporter? That is clearly the coolest thing from “Star Trek.” Granted, I don’t want to be the first guy to test it out, just like I wouldn’t have wanted to be the first guy to try milk from a cow. (“Well, it wasn’t bad, Earl, but then she gave me her phone number and said she’s free on Friday.”) But a transporter would make life much easier if we could just beam ourselves around.
For instance, if I beamed myself to Hawaii on vacation and realized I forgot my swimsuit, I could beam back to the bedroom at home, grab it and beam right back. Better yet, I could commute from a home in the Caribbean to a job in Alaska — and even beam home and back on my lunch breaks.
More importantly, we need those phaser gun thingies from “Star Trek.” Imagine how many tragedies could have been avoided in recent years if police could simply say “Phasers on stun” when they approached a vehicle or a guy illegally selling cigarettes.
Granted, good cops’ split-second decisions in the heat of the moment would still be criticized and over-analyzed by those with slow-motion instant replay if they stunned the wrong person or accidentally stunned someone. But we could talk about it later — including with the person who got stunned.
And if a bad cop ever tried to grind his knee into the neck of a handcuffed man for more than nine minutes, a good cop could stun him after 30 seconds and prevent a tragedy — and then beam him to Pakistan … in his pajamas.