One time I went to a Star Trek convention dressed as Super Mario. “I don’t get it,” my friends all said to me when I told them about my plan. And I was like, “What don’t you get? Star Trek exists in the twenty-fourth century, right? OK, well, that’s our future, right? Their ancestors are us, and so Super Mario and Nintendo all will have existed in their past, which is now. Doesn’t that make sense? Come on, it’s Super Mario, you don’t think he’s going to make it to three or four hundred years from now?”
And my friend Bill was like, “It’s not that I don’t think Super Mario isn’t going to be around, it’s just that, that’s way too much backstory for a Star Trek convention. Why can’t you just wear a Starfleet uniform like everyone else?”
“That’s so lame,” I told him, “I mean, no offense to any of you guys, I know the Starfleet uniforms are expensive and everything. You know what? I shouldn’t have said that. I’m sorry. But you know, my Super Mario costume wasn’t cheap either.”
But it was too late, I knew I was going to piss everyone off by calling their Starfleet costumes lame. But they were lame. And I kind of wanted to piss them off. Because come on, if you want to dress up for a convention, I can think of at least twenty actually interesting costumes from the broader Star Trek universe that don’t involve wearing a generic crewman’s outfit. You could be a Klingon, right, or you could be one of those old school Klingons from the original series. Or you could be Worf’s human stepbrother, or Wesley’s spiritual companion, the Traveler.
I’m just saying, they jumped on me for Mario, and now they weren’t holding back. “Listen Rob,” this was my friend Doug. He definitely had the nicest of the regular uniform costumes, like it had removable pips, a magnetic com-badge, he even had to pick it up at the dry cleaners because of the expensive fabric. “Your Mario costume was from Halloween. And it doesn’t look expensive at all.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about, Doug,” I said. Great, let’s have it out, let’s do this. I knew from Halloween that nobody thought my Super Mario costume was anything special. But not expensive? “Not expensive?” I said in Doug’s direction, but I was talking to the whole group now, “Do you know how expensive a pair of overalls is? I bought them online and they were expensive. And then this hat, this isn’t just a costume prop piece, OK, I bought this specially, and then I sent it to an embroiderer to have the M stitched up front. You see this fake moustache? It’s made out of walrus whiskers, all right, this fake moustache is going to outlive all of you.”
But nobody was budging. It was just me, a lone Super Mario surrounded by a whole group of Junior Lieutenants and Chief Petty Officers. “And yeah, Steve was a Vulcan, so that took at least a little bit more effort than just putting on a blue shirt and a black pair of pants, but not a lot. He didn’t really commit, he didn’t get the Vulcan haircut or anything.
And then my friend Larry spoke up, “Well, if Mario existed in Star Trek’s past, then Star Trek should’ve existed also. Right? How do you explain that?”
And everybody just went, “Oooooh.” And yeah, I didn’t have an answer. I said that it wasn’t fair, that of course Star Trek couldn’t exist as a popular TV show that predicted the course of events for the next three or four hundred years. But you can’t count that, it’s just not fair. There were a lot more words, but that basically summed up my whole argument, that it wasn’t fair. And then Jim, my brainiac friend, he started this big lecture about how Star Trek shaped the popular culture of the twentieth century, directly influencing our electronics, the design of the cell phones, all of those tired arguments you hear every time you read some article about Star Trek in the newspaper. And of course, everyone else just sat around in awe, another boring Star Trek speech.
Worse, we got to the convention, and OK, maybe people didn’t really get the whole Super Mario thing, I get it, it’s a bit of a stretch. And maybe I was a little lazy, just reusing the same costume from Halloween because I didn’t feel like ponying up for something else. But I could have done something, maybe made it like Mario was in Starfleet or something. But no, the worst was, amidst the hundreds and hundreds of regular Star Fleet officers, there was a group of fans who dressed up as Darth Vader and a bunch of storm troopers. And wherever they went, everyone was like, “Ohhhhh!” taking tons of cell phone pictures, having really cool mock fights. And after a while I just wanted to ditch my lame Mario costume, but it really was very expensive, I don’t know why I spent so much extra money. It’s not like it really added anything special to the look. And the walrus moustache? There’s no getting around that. That was just a really bad purchase. A really bad, questionable, impulse, late night Internet purchase.