Thursday, April 29, 2021
You know the expression: "Can't walk and chew gum at the same time,” a disparaging characterization of a person, company or municipality unable to multi-task or even task at all? Fortunately, I've not had much interaction in any of these categories (myself included). I do, however, have a similar description of yours truly: I can't write a column and eat at the same time. I can drink (not alcohol) and write. And back in college in the 70s, while writing a weekly column for "the diamondback" (the college newspaper) at The University of Maryland, I could partake, recreationally, and still write my column. In fact, I still remember what I thought was one of the funniest lines in a column I wrote about my inability to use tools (while under said influence): "The only power tool I ever used was a hammer." Ah, the good old daze.
Fast forward and I mean fast, to 2021, approximately 45 years, since I was a weekly columnist for the campus newspaper. Time hasn't merely flown by, it has broken all former land speed records. In fictional fact, it hasn't been mach, it has been at "warp" speed, for those of you regular readers who are still trying to "Live long and prosper" while watching cable channel "H&I" Sunday through Friday, off and on between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m. For us "Star Trek" fans, these five hours of nightly programming fill a void that no replicator can match.
Spock could certainly multi-task. How else could he master three-dimensional chess? Perhaps some of his skill set had its origins in the "Vulcan mind-meld" which enabled him to read other's thoughts and gain unique insights into previously unshared experiences. As I think back over the years of previous "Star Trek" viewing (and my current re-infatuation), I can't recall ever seeing Spock eat, or even drink for that matter. Maybe he couldn't eat and be First Officer/second in command at the same time? Not that I'm equating myself with Spock; he was way more intelligent and accomplished than me. But maybe we did share a common affliction: an inability to eat and simultaneously perform other tasks?
And though Spock never seemed any the worse for the wear and tear he endured while rarely eating, I, as a red-blooded human, need to eat. I just can't eat while I'm writing. It seems to take away from my focus and blunt the creative process. Maybe if I were able to "narrow the confinement beam," I could put more of my thoughts down on paper before they're lost in my head. Thoughts which occasionally are fleeting, but usually are pertinent to the column I'm writing. Unlike Spock however, my thoughts are not always logical and though I try to embrace his Vulcan philosophy: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," I think I'm too needy to do so. (My nephew bought me Star Trek pajamas for Christmas. It didn't exactly fill a need but it sure has made me happy to wear them. If you're at all curious, they are Spock's rank and color: blue top with black pants, with proper Star Trek insignia.)
As is the case with my weekly column. I deprive myself of nourishment in order to write in a semi-coherent way. Sometimes I fail (perhaps the proof is right here in the words which you are reading), but it's never because I ate while I wrote, it's because the "inertial dampeners" (whatever they are) were not functioning within normal parameters. I just have to hope that my communicator doesn't malfunction or that an ion storm doesn't develop locally and knock out the power to my house. I don't have a "Scotty" around to transfer power from one system to another. All I have is that hammer. And I know from limited experience, that a hammer is not going to solve my problem. I need a whole crew with all their own tools.