Memories of Strange New Worlds, Strange New IdeasS

Star Trek has always held a certain mystique for me.

Not just because it starred a courageous Captain James T. Kirk, a man who every Sunday managed to squeeze fist-fights, flirtation and phaser battles into a single hour of glorious TV, but because of the way I viewed the show... literally.

The Star Trek of my youth was a powerful thing, a concoction of tantalizing glimpses of space woman thighs, the political intrigue of Klingon-Federation relations, the forbidden promise of a child-run planet.

Even though Star Trek, the original, the real Star Trek, died the year before I was born, the reruns were alive and doing better than the show's original run during my early childhood: The mid 70s.

But that syndicated Star Trek of my youth wasn't really a show for children. So I made a habit of curling up on my parents' bed every Sunday night, as my mom hovered nearby cutting coupons or ironing. I woulds watch Sha Na Na and then pretend to nod off to sleep. By the end of that 50s doo-wop show every Sunday, I had managed to work the starched sheets that surrounded me into a small tent over my head. Under this linen canopy I would quietly watch Star Trek in deep fascination as I did my best to breathe slowly, deeply and hope my parents bought the whole sleeping act.

Those forbidden Sunday nights forever bound me to Kirk, his crew and his adventures.

Not many years later I received perhaps the greatest Christmas present of my life: The Star Trek Bridge playset. The vinyl-coated set unfolded to reveal the deck of the Star Trek Enterprise complete with a rectangular view screen, a console, plastic chairs and, best of all, a teleporter that was activated by the spin of a knob. If you timed it just right you could pluck the plastic James T. Kirk from the transporter by his little snapped on shirt and complete the illusion that the psychedelic patterns of the spinning teleporter actually made the doll dematerialize.

Finally, in 1979, a few weeks before another Christmas hit, the third of my trinity of fond, unforgettable Star Trek memories was formed. Star Trek: The Motion Picture was playing at the local mall theater, a place where parents could drop off their kids and let them watch the same movie from open to close for the price of a single ticket.

I spent that glorious Saturday marveling at Kirk's surprisingly bushy hair, confused by the movie's ambiguous plot and surprised by the sudden surge of sexual arousal I felt when I first saw Persis Khambatta as the bald navigator Illa.

The massively multiplayer online game Star Trek Online launches this week and I will play it, but not with the hopes that it could ever approach those fond memories of the Star Trek of my youth. Nothing could. But maybe I can form some new ones.

As we kick off a week of Star Trek stories that will tap into the culture, the video games, the TV and movies of the show, why don't you tell us about some of your fondest Trek memories.