This article was originally published on February 12, 2020.
I love telling people the story of how my parents met. Reactions typically vary from delight to bemusement to surprise, quickly supplemented with a polite ’aww’.
That’s because my parents, Larry and Cindy Crittenton, met at a Star Trek convention.
INT. LAX Hilton Ballroom - May (or June) 1988
Ask my parents when they met and their answers vary. According to my mom, it was June. But dad says May. At least they both agree on the year — 1988.
“We just happened to sit next to each other,” my mom recalls.
They were in the main ballroom of the hotel’s conference center, waiting for a panel featuring a cast member from The Original Series. Conversation struck and information was exchanged, but there were no plans, no promises. My dad didn’t think much of the meeting and carried on at the convention, never thinking he’d see my mom again.
“After about a month, Cindy wrote me a long letter,” my dad tells me. “I was so surprised.”
Their letters continued back and forth, and several months later, in October, they saw each other at another Star Trek convention. once more at the LAX Hilton. This time, while chatting at the LAX Hilton once again, they made plans to see each other when my dad asked my mom to lunch.
The following year, my mom asked my dad to marry her. He said yes.
To Boldly Go
“I got involved in Star Trek in 1966 during the first run,” my dad explains, remembering how his love for the show began. “I was into outer space things at the time — I still am. Star Trek dealt with space travel and finding strange new worlds and civilizations. I was interested in that.”
For my mom, she got into Trek after watching the original Battlestar Galactica.“I realized I loved science fiction,” she says. “I love the stories they tell and the hope for the future.”
Trek, directly and peripherally remained a tenet of their new life together — like dressing up in Starfleet uniforms at future conventions. They also saw Walter Koenig — for many years — as Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol in Thousand Oaks.
That became something of a Thing, and one of their fondest memories together (and a story I’ve heard countless times) was seeing Patrick Stewart perform a one-man reading of the Dickens classic at UCLA.
When I came along in 1992, “We started showing you TV shows you might like,” my dad remembers. “You liked Star Trek right away.”
Like any child, my favorite thing about Star Trek in the beginning was the fluffy yet dangerous Tribble. I got my own stuffed one.
“As you got older you really loved it because they showed strong women,” my mom says, clear traces of pride in her tone. “You really liked Voyager.”
And who wouldn’t? But there was something more, something that showed me how Star Trek had — and still does, to this day — love coursing through its veins.
‘Live Long and Prosper’ Means ‘I Love You’
My mom is hard of hearing. Though none of us are fluent in ASL (American Sign Language), we’ve always communicated basics through silence and hand gestures.
One of our favorites is the sign for ‘I love you’. We flash it to one another at something as simple as sitting at the dinner table, or from across the room, or when I’m driving away after visiting them for a weekend. It is a piece of our identity as a family.
When I saw the live long and prosper sign for the first time, I was in awe. This was how my family communicated. Understanding the Vulcan salute, and interpreting it as a way to express affection, good will, and strength, was profound for me. It was one of the many ways I came to view Star Trek as, inherently, a show about love, hope, and acceptance. Those are lessons Star Trek taught me all throughout my childhood and beyond.
As a kid, I didn’t know about race and gender representation or Hollywood’s constant struggle with them. I just knew that characters like Sulu and Uhura stood on the bridge of the Enterprise, while I didn’t see the same type of diversity on many other science fiction shows.
It shaped my perception, helped me prioritize diversity as I sought out new stories, and taught me love manifests itself in countless ways — like recognizing the importance of marginalized voices and giving them a platform.
It’s the same for my mom. When I asked her how Star Trek represented love to her, she was all about the characters.
“Everyone is accepted for who they are,” she said. “Spock was willing to do anything to save the crew of the Enterprise. And they were willing to sacrifice everything, even the ship, to save Spock.”
But love between characters is not the only way the feeling manifests itself. Love is what makes a Star Trek future possible.
“Star Trek shows how we could possibly be as a society in the future,” my dad says. “In Star Trek, we have gotten rid of hate and greed. We learned to work together with everyone in harmony.”
I see it when I watch any iteration of Star Trek. It is the love for exploration and peace; it is the love for one’s fellow crew members; it is how love and peace can save the future. It is the love my parents share with each other, and the love I share with them.
A 30-Year Mission… And Beyond
My parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary in 2019. To this day, Star Trek remains a part of their life and their partnership.
Every weeknight, my parents have date night. They don’t go out, they don’t light candles. Instead, they get into bed and turn on the television.
Despite owning many of the series on blu-ray, every night at 8pm, without fail, they get comfortable and watch an episode of The Original Series on H&I. Occasionally, when they’re feeling a little bit rebellious and enraptured by the franchise that brought them together, they stay up until 9pm, when a rerun of The Next Generation airs. It’s a deep and abiding love that I cannot wait to emulate myself.
Anya Crittenton's (she/her) feminist icons are Leslie Knope and Lauren Bacall. When she's not on Twitter, she can usually be found watching movies with her dog, reading Neil Gaiman, or at Disneyland. You can find her on Twitter at @anyacrittenton.