By Estela (Probably Part Vulcan) Caballero
Even though the show always said Spock was Vulcan, I was sure he had some Mexican in him. Side by side pictures of Spock and my dad beg the question, “Might they even be brothers?” Don’t go nuts Trekkies, I know his mom was human and his dad was Vulcan. Spock was a weekly visitor into our home. Sure, it was just a show but we only had three channels, maybe four if we made my little brothers take turns holding the square shaped antennae just right. The good shows were something we looked forward to. It’s hard to explain to someone who can’t remember a time when you couldn’t pull up your shows, anything really, at any time.
Before I could tell time, I used tv shows as a reference. An old broken watch rested among my most treasured belongings in the corner of the closet. As my mom would hurry out the door after making us food to eat while she was at work, she would ask me to recite the schedule of what she needed to make sure I did while she was at work. I would quickly retrieve my watch from the closet and tell my mom not to worry, I knew what time everything needed to happen and show her I had my watch. If the potato processing plant she was working at needed extra people to cover the next shift, they would give employees little or no notice, often waiting until the last hour to tell them it was their turn for mandatory overtime. There were no cell phones to call and check up on us during her breaks. We didn’t always have a working land line. “When________ ends, make sure you check you’re brother to see if he needs to be changed” or “Make sure you brothers and sister go to bed after ________.” The only time I saw my mom sit still was when she was driving– that didn’t seem to count since she was driving. Aside from that, she was on the move always preparing and readying. She rarely spoke of her own childhood and would quickly change the subject when I asked her how she learned to tell time or what her favorite shows were when she was my age. I came to understand that I should stop asking.
Star Trek was a marker and it’s possible the reason those old shows occupy a special place in my memories was because they were sometimes the only constant in rough waters. Spock helped my dad learn English and he inspired me to think in a new way. He gave my mother comfort. She knew his visit to our home would ensure her youngest got a fresh diaper if her oldest forgot. I was the keeper of time and in charge during those hours but I was still a child, a relentless day dreamer and my mother knew that better than anyone else. Spock helped a little Mexican girl watch over her brothers and sister. A mental map would activate at the first sound of the theme music reminding us all of our pre show duties. One brother would go grab a bottle for Buddy, the baby. My sister would drag a large heavy blanket from the room and we’d all climb on after it was stretched close to the rickety table holding the tv. Certain shows warranted a temporary peace between us and this was one of them. In order for peace to be real, all of us had to like the show.
The baby was named Buddy by my father. Just before my mother went into labor, we were watching a Jerry Lewis movie with a suave character named Buddy Love. Buddy was number five and by then both my mom and dad had several chances to draw a line in the sand over who would chose the name. They already had two boys and two girls and Buddy didn’t sound too bad. She worked all the way up to the day Buddy was born and her maternity leave would last little more than most people took off over the holidays. She was tired and had only enough energy to firmly convey Buddy was fine but my dad was pushing his luck if he told the nurse Buddy’s middle name was Love one more time. I was happy his name was Buddy. When people asked why we called my chubby littlest brother Buddy or “Booodgie” as my dad’s family pronounced it, the story would bring laughter even if they had heard the story many times before. My mother and father would laugh. As things went from bad to worse, as they too often do, I would try to retell the story and break the harshness permeating everything from the air to their looks at each other. Even the silence sought refuge from the heartbreak of a family breaking apart for good.
I learned to tell time that year. Spock and I grew apart for a time. The possibilities learned in those days as the keeper of time never left me, even as I eventually joined the masses at the factory myself. I found little comfort in the cell phone tucked in my lunch bag. It was night and my tiny daughter should be sleeping. At lunch time, I didn’t eat. I was certain I could work 20 years and still not feel right eating my lunch at 2 am. Instead I sat there and remembered sitting in front of the small screen, a tattered blanket became a magical carpet. I got to travel through space and go where no man has gone before. A rapt audience sat quietly on the floor in front of the tv and couldn’t wait to see what strange new worlds were waiting. Anything was possible, that’s for sure.
As you can see, Spock is probably at least half Mexican and/or my dad is half Vulcan. Don’t go all Mendel’s cross pollination on me. The way it happened or percentages don’t matter– look at those eyebrows. I couldn’t photoshop it that close even if I wanted to. Live long and prosper– and dream. Dream big, then do it.