Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash Vol. XXXIII: Trekkies vs. Trekkers, selfish terminally ill people vs. taco-flavored Doritos, staying young vs. getting old

Matt Labash Columnist
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If you had to learn either Klingon or Braille, what would you choose? –  Pete

Neither Klingon nor Braille have much practical use for me, but I’d definitely have to go with Braille. For I’d much rather communicate with the blind than with Trekkies. Or is it Trekkers? I’ve been corrected when mentioning them in passing before, so I researched it this afternoon. Sources close to the internet tell me that “Trekkie” started falling out of fashion after William Shatner’s 1986  Saturday Night Live parody in which he implored Trekkies to get a life. (Whereas, Trekkers insist they have a life – a dubious claim, since they’re the kind of people who’d sit around debating the merits of Trekkies vs. Trekkers.)

Furthermore, Spock himself (Leonard Nimoy) – who was, after all, the “science officer” on the Starship Enterprise – tried to settle the debate on Star Trek’s 25th anniversary special, saying the correct term was “Trekker.” Though franchise creator Gene Roddenberry – in what very well could be urban legend – supposedly once corrected a fan at a Star Trek convention who bleated out the term “Trekkers.” Roddenberry purportedly responded, “No, it’s ‘Trekkies.’ I should know – I invented the thing.”

I am no closer to knowing whether it’s “Trekkies” or “Trekkers.” All I know is that after about five minutes of reading Wikipedia on the subject, I wanted to say, “jIH Daq qab tlhej.”  Which according to my online Klingon translator, means, “Shoot me in the face with a phaser.” If a Trekkie/Trekker obliged, and I survived, I would probably be left blind, thus making Braille the clear winner.

If you had three wishes, what would they be? Buzz

I know what the obvious answer is. I know what you’re expecting me to say. That I’d wish for a big pile of cash money, the finest 24 karat crunk grill, and fast cars and faster women. But I’m not going to say that. Because as a senior writer at America’s leading journal of conservative political thought, it probably goes without saying that I already possess those things. Also, I would never say that, because it’s predictable. And I was actually voted “Most Unpredictable” in high school. Why? I’m not sure exactly. I’m actually a creature of habit, and am rather predictable. So you wouldn’t have expected me to take the title, and yet I did. Thus confirming my unpredictability.

NEXT: Matt Labash’s three wishes
Here, then, are my three wishes in order:

1. My first wish would be to give my wishes to somebody more deserving, someone who could really use them. Maybe somebody terminally ill. Because in addition to being unpredictable, that’s the kind of person I am: Selfless. Caring. All about other people. Committing acts of unsung heroism. And then singing about them. Not to promote myself. But to promote my heroic works, so that others might learn from me and with mindful humility, do likewise.

2. My second wish would be to take my first wish back. What if the terminally ill person doesn’t live long enough to ask for all three wishes? That would be a waste, and in this age of limited resources, I’m pro-conservation. Plus, aren’t people always giving the terminally ill wishes, i.e., the Make a Wish Foundation? How much is enough, terminally ill people? Leave some wishes for the rest of us, already. Besides, we’re all sort of terminally ill in one way or another. No matter how healthy you feel today, not a one of us is getting out of here alive.

3. Leading to my third wish: bring back the original taco-flavored Doritos. They were a 1970’s staple food. They tasted neither like tacos, nor Doritos, and yet somehow, they added up to more than the sum of their parts. Since their discontinuation, I have soured on the entire Doritos franchise. I’ve been unable to eat nacho cheese flavored Doritos since once pulling what looked like a spare-rib bone from out of one of their bags. And Cool Ranch-flavored Doritos, though they’ve now been around for a quarter of a century, still seem like a desperation play – particularly when they renamed them “Cooler Ranch.” (Call me when you achieve “Coolest Ranch,” maybe I’ll reevaluate.) These days, the Frito-Lay company just seems to be making an outright mockery of us with noxious flavors such as Doritos X-13D Flavor Experiment and “mystery” flavors such as cheeseburger and Mountain Dew. These are less snack-worthy comestibles than something you would drop behind enemy lines as a PSYOPS experiment in terror. It’s time to get back to basics, back to that which knit us together and made us the world’s only remaining superpower: original taco-flavored Doritos. For I don’t care if your forefathers came over four centuries ago on the Mayflower, or if you illegally slid over the border last week from Juarez. It doesn’t matter if you’re a lettuce-picking illegal or Tom Tancredo. One thing we can all agree on is that everybody loves them some tacos.

NEXT: If Labash had a fourth wish, what would it be?

I’m feeling insecure about my age. Could you throw some wisdom my way? – Lyla

You don’t specify your age, which is probably just as well. Since age-insecurity is nearly universal. When you’re young, the years can’t come fast enough. You need them to accumulate rapidly in order to bring you the spoils of adulthood – a driver’s license, beer, discretionary income. Then, after about the age of 30, you realize that the sand in the hourglass is only falling one way, and that eventually – sooner than you think — you’re going to run out of it.

On that chipper note, if it’s any consolation, I’ve met a lot of people in my life. And not a one of them hasn’t gotten older since I’ve met them.  Aging – it’s contagious. Everybody’s doing it. And since stopping time isn’t an option, the only alternative is to stop aging. Meaning the jig’s up. So rest easy in the liberation of knowing that you don’t have a choice.

A few months ago, I heard a radio interview with a terminally ill journalist. She’d once been a gold-plated action junkie and a swashbuckling war correspondent. Now, she was in a hospice, waiting for the inevitable. When asked if she spent a lot of time looking back, she said that no, she didn’t. When reading a book, no matter how great chapter two was, when you’re on chapter eight, you’re still more interested in what happens next than what you’ve already read. That’s the spirit, I think. If I had a fourth wish (see last question), I’d wish to keep that in mind at all times. Though third place would still be to bring back taco-flavored Doritos.  You have to keep priorities straight. Still, you don’t have to spend life looking back wistfully. Nostalgia can be the devil. Nor do you have to dread what comes next. Life’s pretty good about staying interesting and yielding unexpected pleasures. All that’s required is to keep turning pages.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” was published this spring by Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.