A Hair-Raising Kirk Story

Written By: Randy Hall

Published: Issue 30


With Halloween almost upon us, I've been thinking about scary things. Yes, even scary things at conventions.


Don't get me wrong. Conventions are almost always populated with friends you haven't met yet. But there are still Klingons and members of the Borg Collective wandering through the hallways, and you never know who ... or what ... you might run into any time you turn a corner!


In spite of all this, the scariest experience I ever had at a con dealt with, of all people, James T. Kirk!


It was several years ago, just after Kirk and his crew had ridden into the sunset (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) at the end of The Undiscovered Country. None of us at the convention had any way of knowing that Kirk was to be killed stupidly in the next Trek movie, so when I saw a panel discussing "The Future of Captain Kirk," I talked a friend named Lorenzo into checking it out with me.


The folks who moderated the discussion had an interesting premise: If Star Trek VI was indeed the last time for the Classic cast to be onscreen, and Kirk was nowhere to be found during The Next Generation, what had happened to the captain of the Enterprise during those intervening years?


(Actually, there are rumors that Kirk was supposed to appear in a first-season episode of TNG. It was called "Too Short a Season" and dealt with an aging admiral who underwent a dangerous reverse-aging treatment rather than be in poor condition when facing an old opponent. The character, who died at the end of the show, was called Mark JAMESON, the last name supposedly a clue that he was originally to have been JAMES Kirk.)


As the panel on Kirk's fate progressed, most of the people there came to the conclusion that, without a starship to call his own, the captain would likely settle down on a quiet little farm in Iowa and live out his days in quiet contentment.


"You've got to be kidding me," I said, a bit amazed. "We're talking about Captain Kirk here! Even if he tried that, a spaceship from the planet Amazonia would land on his farm, the women aboard would ask Kirk to take them to his leader, and Kirk would say, 'Here I am!'"


Then I was asked what I thought James T.'s final fate would be, a matter I'd given a great deal of thought. I told the group that I couldn't imagine Kirk looking up at the stars and not wanting to go on exploring strange new worlds. I figured he'd buy a ship and, if he couldn't re-assemble his senior staff, would fly off into uncharted space on his own. Well, not entirely alone. The ship's computer would be programmed with Spock's voice. And realizing he wasn't as spry as he used to be, Kirk would hire a security guard to go with him ... which meant he was always stopping at Federation starbases to keep getting fresh security guards after the latest one had stepped on an explosive rock, or something like that.


In the end, there would only be rumors, myths, and legends about Kirk's end, since there would be no evidence to prove he wasn't still out there, still boldly going where no man had gone before.


Well, the folks there seemed to think this wasn't a horribly bad idea, though a few jokes started popping up about Kirk being captain on a ship with his children from various races as the crew. Then, someone suggested that our captain could raise money for a ship by endorsing products for the future version of television.


That was when I made a frightening mistake.


In the mood of the moment, I suggested that Kirk could always start the "Hair Club for Enterprise Captains."


To my astonishment, the room went deathly silent. Everyone was staring at me, and a woman seated directly in front of me turned my way and said, through clenched teeth: "KIRK doesn't wear a toupee. It's SHATNER who wears a toupee."


Suddenly fearing for my life, I said: "That was just a little joke." And I learned the hard way that Saavik was right. Sometimes, humor is not logical.

The panel ended soon after without any further interruptions from me. As Lorenzo and I left the room, he turned to me and said: "You almost got us killed in there. If it got any uglier, I was going to save my life by saying I was from a foreign country and didn't know who you were." (He was kidding ... I think.)

To this day, I wonder what the people in that room think about Generations and Kirk's untimely demise. I suspect they're much more forgiving of my little "toop" joke than what Berman and company have done to their favorite starship captain.