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The Guide To Not Normal

We Went To A Star Trek Convention To Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of TNG

by Jennifer Juniper Stratford
Dec 6 2012, 12:00am

Upon his return from a cybernetic conference, Data, the Starship Enterprise’s second officer and sentient android, made the decision to procreate. Using his own positronic brain as a template, Data created an android offspring in an attempt to re-create the work of his father and to experience what it’s like for humans to have a family. His newly created daughter, Lal, quickly adapted, but when she experienced anxiety and fear her neural net failed, causing irreparable damage. Right before her neurosystem shut down completely, Lal summed up her life in an eloquent computer glitch of final words: "Flirting. Laughter, Painting, Family. Female. Human." Touched by the android’s brief but powerful life, I swore that if I ever got the opportunity to go to a Star Trek Convention, I would dress up as Lal.

Thankfully, I already had the wig. I thought to myself, Whatever happens, happens, just don’t take the fun out of it! If you go to the thrift store and don’t find anything, just go as something easy, like a Bajoran. Fate stepped in quick. Two rows into my search, I found it, and a few minutes later, I left with everything I needed for my completed Lal costume for under $10. It was meant to happen.

I figured the transporter room at a Star Trek Convention would be a madhouse, so I opted for MINI's 21st century shuttlecraft to get me to my destination. Fill me up Scotty! 

Thanks to the MINI's warp capabilities, I arrived in no time. Now it's time to learn the fundamentals of human interaction and behavior.

Guinan’s night off at Ten Forward.

“Better to die on our feet than to live on our knees! -Klingon proverb.

What’s extra special about attending a Star Trek convention in San Francisco is that, in theory, the Starfleet Academy is just a few miles away in the Presidio, which makes San Fran a space college town. This group of Starfleet cadets, The USS Loma Prieta, sure know how to party. 

Meet the sexy ladies of Medical and Engineering: Bea Dazzler, Cindy B, and Robyn.

An officer’s uniform from the 2280s always commands respect. When I complimented him on his choice of costume he said, “Who wouldn’t want to be part of the executive community that is making the decisions of a starship?” 

“I like Star Trek: The Next Generation because of Geordi LaForge. The visor is cool!”

“I’m freaking out! LeVar Burton just tweeted a picture of me.”

I used to wear a communicator badge, but then thought, You can’t just pin it on, you have to ink it on.

“I’ve watched all of the original series, Next Generation, and Voyager. My favorite is Next Gen because I love Data. I’ve always been socially awkward with people so I connect to his character. I like how Data can overcome challenges in a way that is human, even if he isn’t, and that he has friends that he felt he needed to protect.”

Data, sentient android and second officer of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D, played by actor Brent Spiner.

The rules for photographing and talking to celebrities at the convention are very strict, but I wanted to see what Brent Spiner was up to because I interviewed him earlier this year. As I approached his table I asked, “Hey can I talk to you or do I have to pay $40?” He laughed and welcomed my friend and me to the table. Before we knew it, he was joking around with us and our banter sped into a battle of wits that couldn’t be stopped. At one point, the three of us were laughing so loudly, I could sense the rest of the cast thinking, “Who are these chicks talking to Brent?” It was a little surreal. We moved aside so he could sign an autograph.

I pitched him an idea for a movie. I explained that while he wouldn’t be cast as an android, there were androids in the movie. He quickly turned the movie down because he couldn’t stand the concept and confessed, “I hate your dreams.” We laughed hysterically. Brent Spiner has a wild personality. I didn’t dare tell him I was going to join the costume contest later that night dressed as Lal after seeing how much he hates androids. “OK then,” I asked, “who would you recommend to play your part if you won’t be in our movie?” He said, “John de Lancie.” 

Q, the omnipotent power, portrayed by the actor John de Lancie.

Before heading up to the room to get ready for the costume contest, I went around and bought some things I really needed. A Bajoran earring, a Q lapel pin for inspiration, and a book on holistic cat care written by Celeste Yarnall—one of the knockout babes in the original series. After a short discussion on cat care, she invited me and my friends to her private party later that evening in one of the suites. Nichelle Nichols, the legendary Uhura, was flying in just for it. The night was looking promising.

It didn’t take long to get into costume. A friend added a few safety pins here and there and we were in the ballroom in no time. As I walked onto the floor, I heard people whisper, “Lal! Lal!” which made up for all those Halloweens when I was something obscure, leaving me to stand in a corner unrecognized all night. There was a vast array of costumes in the contest, all of them incredible. The man who stood next to me had made his captain’s jacket from scratch with fabric of the finest quality and every stitch done to perfection. I didn’t dare tell him my costume was just a bridesmaid’s dress that I was wearing backwards. To avoid revealing this, when I took the stage and the host asked me who made my costume I replied, in character, “father made it.” The crowd roared with laughter. After a show of applause for each contestant, the man in the captain’s uniform next to me began to get frustrated. “I guess quality doesn’t matter,” he grumbled. Before I could think of anything to say that might keep him in good spirits, the host announced that I had won this year’s Best TNG Costume. A $200 prize! Best of Show went to a huge paper-mache head of Balok from the original series.

I was so excited to run into Balok at Celeste Yarnall’s party. When she took off her paper-mache head to introduce herself to me she chirped, “Girl power!”

I said, “Tonight, you and I are winners!”

Things got epic long before the legendary Nichelle Nichols showed up. She gravitated towards us. Girl Power!

Looks like I made a wrong turn at the starbase!

It was hard to say goodbye to all my new friends the next day, but I look forward to seeing them next year in Las Vegas—dressed as Lal, of course. On the way home, I made a wrong turn at the starbase. Better recalibrate the maps in my neurosystem.

To all my new friends, until we meet again, live long and prosper. This android feels the love.

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