Dear Teen Me from author Ilsa J. Bick (ASHES, DROWNING INSTINCT, WHITE SPACE)

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Dear Teen Me:

Okay, look, I know you don’t want to hear this but—seriously—the Spock ears have got to go.  Trust me on this.

Now, the fact that you’ve got them on, that you’re even here, sweltering in your dad’s Grand AM —a sensible battleship of a car he bought especially for you so that when you hit someone (and he figures that because you’re just a kid, you will hit someone; it’s one of those givens like death and taxes and the Redskins losing to the Dallas Cowboys—which is your fault, by the way, because every guy knows that girls are jinxes.  Really.  The game can be going along perfectly well, and then it’s fourth and goal and three seconds left, and then you walk into a room—and bam!  Fumble.  Game over.  Girls got no business anywhere near a television on fourth and goal.)

Where was I?  Oh yes, Spock ears.  The car, squatting in the parking lot of a second-rate hotel on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of July.

Why are you here?  This is a good question.  You know you shouldn’t be here.  You should be at work.  (You’re a cashier, by the way.  Boring job.  Your dad knew the friend of a friend who knew an uncle.  An orangutan would be bored with this job.  The math’s not remotely challenging.  Oh yes, this is far enough back—before barcodes and computers—that you still need to do, you know, basic math in your head.)

But you’re not at work.  You have done the unthinkable.

You.  Have.  Lied. To your parents.

You.  You have done this.

You are old enough to know better.  No, don’t ask me how old or what year this is.  Okay, okay, fine: you’re older than sixteen.  (Hello, driving; a job; but still living at home . . . I mean, duh.)

As for the year . . . well, all right, here are a couple hints.  Nixon is president.  Vietnam’s still happening.  Star Trek’s been off the air for four years.  The actor who will play Wesley Crusher in The Next Generation is still in diddies.

And William Shatner . . . well, Bill—you call him Bill, when you’re daydreaming about the moment he wakes up and finally realizes that it’s been you he’s loved all these years and never known—Bill hasn’t gotten a lucky break for quite a while.  Oh, he guest-stars a lot on TV (remember how amazing he was with Leonard on Mission: Impossible?) and he was very good on The $20,000 Pyramid. (Well, except for the end when he blurted out the answer to the question and went ballistic and threw that chair.  And the time when he couldn’t even win the Pyramid giving himself the clues.  But, really, that was just so Bill.)

T.J. Hooker is a little less than a decade in Bill’s future, and the first Trek movie—no, no, not the Wrath of Ricardo Montalban; the very first one everyone pretends didn’t happen.  Where the bald chick (and boy, didn’t her career fall off a cliff) and the guy who goes on to play a pastor in 7th Heaven get it on at the end, only it’s, like, all metaphor?  (Oh, and the pastor’s wife in 7th Heaven will be Catherine Hicks, who will play Gillian Taylor in Star Trek IV—honestly, maybe that show’s going to be like this elephant graveyard for dead Trek actors or something.)

Well, anyway, that first Trek movie won’t happen for another six years.  So, yeah, that’s how long ago this is.

So why are you still in the car?  Why are you sweating the ears?  You know you’re here for a reason. Well, other than obsession with a grade-B actor.

You’re here because there’s a Star Trek convention happening.  Right now. This will be your very first time.  Today.

Now, mind you, Bill won’t be here and you already know that.  Bill might live out of his pick-up truck doing summer stock (three years ago, he was at The Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey and before that, when he was SOMEBODY, he played tennis at Mountain Ridge Country Club with parents who are the friends of the parents of the man you will one day marry—a man whose name is not Bill), but he hasn’t stooped so low quite yet as to attend an actual con.

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