The Lieutenant and I
I never recognize celebrities (except Joe DiMaggio once, on the street in Los Angeles), but Nichelle Nichols I know.
The stunning black woman at the next table at the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association dinner was unmistakably Lieutenant Uhura of the starship _Enterprise._ I never recognize celebrities (except Joe DiMaggio once, on the street in Los Angeles), but Nichelle Nichols I know.
At the SCIBA convention, writers change tables between courses, so as to push one's book to the maximum number of mom-and-pop bookstore owners. When we changed tables between the salad and the entrÃ©e, I managed to approach the lieutenant and blurt out, "Ms. Nichols, I used to watch _Star Trek_ for you. I remember episodes by whether you actually got to say something more than 'I have opened a hailing frequency, Captain.' And, uh, I wrote a script for _Star Trek: The Next Generation_...uh..." I was groping desperately for something further to say. "Oh, and a friend of mine used to date your son!" All true, if mumbled.
Nichols couldn't have been more sweetly gracious. We chatted for some time, until her publicity person became anxious and took her elbow to nudge her along to the next table. At which point Lieutenant Uhuraâ€”no, I think it was really Nichelle Nichols nowâ€”leaned forward impulsively and kissed me. And that is the last thing I remember of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association convention.
I have a witness, so I know it happened.