“It’s tribbling, Mommy,” said Graham as we walked from the Target parking lot into the store tonight.
Sue and I were both puzzled what he was trying to say. Traveling? Troubling?
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to either one of them, I was having Star Trek: The Original Series alarms go off in some back room of my brain. You see, one of the most popular episodes ever of ST:TOS was about the Tribbles. A tribble is a cute, furry kind of space creature, like a purring fuzzball the size and color of a guinea pig, but with no discernable face. To make things more complicated, I think the tribble’s purr had an almost druglike effect upon the members of the crew who kept them as pets. And most troubling (tribbling?) of all, the things bred like nobody’s business. Soon the entire Enterprise was overrun with them, and they were getting stuck in places which endangered the ship and the crew. The whole episode is unique in that it’s one of the few that’s intentionally funny throughout, rather than the more typical unintended humor and camp that the series is better known for. (“Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a NASCAR driver!”)
Anyway, I knew Graham wasn’t talking about those tribbles. But I wished he was. I’m such a geek that I can hardly wait to show him some of the numerous old episodes of Star Trek and Star Trek: Next Generation that I have saved on videotape. Oh, and Voyager. And X-Files. And Star Wars Episodes IV-VI (God forbid my kid think Anakin or Obi-Wan are cooler than Han Solo). But I’m waiting till he’s old enough to truly appreciate all that. He’s into the stars and astronomy already, but he’s still not that into live action movies or television yet. So I don’t want to risk showing this stuff to him too early, so that he doesn’t catch on, and then dismisses so much quality stuff later as “been there, done that”. I think age seven ought to be about right, to make a proper introduction. Maybe nine in the case of The X-Files. (Wouldn’t want to give him nightmares, or turn him into a serial killer.)
By the way, what he was actually trying to tell us at Target was that it was drizzling. I got a good chuckle out of that one, when we finally figured it out.