Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Live long, prosper, have a cookie

An e-mail thread at work yesterday spurred some debate over this kind of snarky article on the pending demise (for now) of the Star Trek franchise. I am utterly indifferent to all things Trek...but it reminded me of a favorite story about my late grandmother that I figured belonged in the blog.

For several years in the early 90s, Grammy was a canteen volunteer for the Puget Sound Blood Center blood bank in north Seattle. She was bored in her retirement, and I'd nagged at her to find something in the community to do. She was so tiny that she didn't weigh enough to be a donor, but she could provide juice and cookies and cocoa to the exsanguinated and make sure nobody passed out over the Xeroxed word-search puzzles the center kept on hand. It was an ideal grandma job, plying a captive audience with snacks and bad riddles, and she loved it.

This one day, though, she came home from her shift and declared, "Oh, we had such a time at the blood bank today, when the Klingons came in!"

The who and the what, now? You can probably picture the expressions on the faces of the entire fam. We KNEW that Grammy was not a science fiction fan; it was HIGHLY unlikely she'd ever seen a single episode of Star Trek, and probably couldn't have picked Shatner out of a lineup. I was grimly certain, for a moment, that this was some menacing symptom of Alzheimer's they didn't tell you about: you lose your keys, forget names...start seeing Klingons.

But. After some carefully worded questioning, the story finally emerged, more or less: apparently there was some sort of sci-fi convention in town, and a group of attendees had decided to do something altruistic before heading off, in full costume and makeup, to bump elbows with the rest of the galaxy. So maybe half a dozen of them descended on the blood bank. Eventually, photographs were pinned to the center's bulletin board: several fierce, glowering interplanetary warriors, several beaming phlebotomists, my tiny cookie-dispensing Grammy. The bulletin board also had little signs declaring "Give Blood" in a dozen different languages; before leaving, the visitors had helpfully printed it out in Klingon, jagged angular characters on a strip of colored construction paper.

I'm still pretty sure that Grammy didn't completely grasp what was going on; I imagine she believed these folks were nice, a bit strange, and some unusual race and/or religious sect. Rastafarians, Hare Krishas...Klingons. No matter. You get poked, you get a cookie and a "Be Nice to Me--I Gave Blood Today!" sticker on your body armor. Be who you are, that was Grammy's philosophy.

I'd give my eye teeth for that picture, now.

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