IT WAS ONLY A JOKE
In the 1980s, I wrote three Star Trek novels that were then published by a small publisher called Ruff & Ready Press. For two of the three, I created several original Vulcan characters as crewmen of the starship Enterprise. My premise was that the entire former science department of the ship had been killed off in a tragic accident, and that Starfleet wisely decided to replace it with the best scientists in the Federation: Vulcans. I went on to write numerous stories using my invented characters.
One of my new Vulcans, in particular, was more sensitive, inquisitive, and open-minded than most: Spencek. He actually married a human crewwoman, Lisa Hollister, who started out by being the most uneasy around the new Vulcans, but who gradually allowed her own great sensitivity to bridge the gap, and learned to accept these aliens better than most of the other humans among the crew, who saw Vulcan aloofness as an unbreachable barrier against genuine friendship between the two species.
Here then, without further ado, is one of those stories.
“Did you hear about the Vulcan who was addicted to soft drinks? They renamed him Sodak!” McCoy grinned in triumph at the laughter of his all-human rec-room audience. These little entertainment sessions were very therapeutic for the humans, and seemed to relieve them of the tensions inevitable for humans working on a ship with fifty-one Vulcans.
“And how about the Vulcan who was a noisy sleeper? They called him Snorek!” McCoy seemed to have a special gift for invention and delivery of the crew’s favorite type of jokes. The rapt audience always insisted on making him center stage.
“And what about the Vulcan who was more flexible than most? His name was Spandex!”
The hilarity grew. McCoy was in rare form.
“And then there was this combustible Vulcan. Easily inflamed, you know. He was called Spark!”
As usual Lisa Hollister, despite being the human wife of Spencek, was laughing hardest of all. McCoy always interpreted that as proof that his jokes were inoffensive.
“And the Vulcan who suffered from painful vertebrae. Named Sorbak.” No one laughed. McCoy frowned in puzzlement. But he had not seen what his audience had seen. And now their faces reflected every expression from concern to outright fear. At a slight rustle behind him, McCoy whirled and saw the reason for his audience’s so abrupt solemnity.
Spock, Spencek, Spornak, and Spivak had entered behind him. And now they stood placidly waiting for him to notice them. McCoy did so with a slight gasp. Then his eyes flicked quickly between their faces and those of the seated humans who comprised his impromptu audience.
Spock stepped forward smoothly, and stated, “And then there was the human who was caught telling Vulcan jokes. And they called him Sore-Shoulder.”
In instant comprehension, McCoy’s eyes winced in fear, and his lower lip trembled in anxiety.
“No!” he murmured.
Unimpressed, Spock pinched.
As McCoy’s vision blacked over and his knees buckled, he could have sworn that he saw the other four Vulcans at least mildly appreciating Spock’s “joke.”
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