It happened. I thought I was immune. The last time I felt it coming on was in the mid 80s and early 90s when I worked for a software company called “Quark.” The floors of the eight-story building were named after planets. We attended Star Trek movies en masse. I called myself a Trekkie, but I realize now that was a lie. I never purchased paraphernalia or quoted lines except, “Live long and prosper,” and everyone did that.
While most of my friends got sucked into cults, like The Moonies, Scientology, Divine Madness, or became disciples of Hindu gurus and Buddhist teachers, I maintained my hyper-critical, individualistic distance. I participated in groups, but I never joined them. I never became a disciple, a follower, or a member. Instead, I became a very curious atheist.
Until now. It started innocently enough. We found a Roku box in the garage. It contained free streaming Netflix. My husband, son and I queued up Dr. Who Season 5 featuring Amelia Pond as The Doctor’s companion. That’s what they are called, “Companions,” the women who roam the universe with The Doctor, always with a high level of sexual tension but never any real action. I don’t know why we chose to watch Dr. Who of all the thousands of free digital movies we could have viewed instead that night we installed the box. I had purchased a VHS set of the Tom Baker Years in the 90s, but I never got around to it. With the 50th year anniversary approaching and all my Dr. Who fan friends raving about the Christmas episode, perhaps I thought I should show an interest.
Now, at 44 years old, for the first time in my life, I am, I think, exhibiting symptoms of a fan, the one true believer. What are the symptoms, you wonder? The first red flag was when I felt irresistibly compelled to purchase a Sonic Screwdriver. Given, I was experiencing a lot of stress. Our roof had leaked over the summer, and the contractor cut the headers of our house to fit the windows he ordered too large. I was convinced the roof was going to collapse on us at any moment. Not to mention the asbestos. I don’t want to think about the asbestos.
I thought the Sonic Screwdriver would help me cope. I could wave it around and fix things or unlock mysteries, if only in my mind. I was ready for the first time since my teen years to suspend disbelief and engage in magical thinking. However, I had to wait three long days for it to be delivered, since I had rationally restrained myself from paying extra at Amazon for overnight shipping.
The night I ordered the screwdriver and agonized over whether I should have paid the extra shipping, The Doctor lost his! But, upon discovering it was missing, he said, “Don’t worry, I have an app for that!
Genius! I immediately located the Sonic Screwdriver app in the App Store and purchased it. Every Sonic Screwdriver that has ever been shown on Dr. Who is in the app. You can mix and match bases with midsections and pointers and choose different sound effects and animation. It would get me through the long weekend and the visit with the structural engineer.
The next red flag was more subtle. For Valentine’s dinner, I purchased a cream tart and salmon patties. We watched Dr. Who Season 3, the Utopia Episode. I started to think of lines I wanted to remember, like, “Maybe later, Blue.” I texted my friend who was attending the 50th anniversary DW con (that’s what fans call The Doctor Who Convention) asking her if watching DW on Valentine’s night was romantic. She felt it was because it’s a turn on. Hmmm…actually, I did find the omni sexual immortal guy pretty cute.
I was about to fall asleep later that night when I realized that cream tart and salmon patties are just one deep fryer step away from custard and fish fingers.
I have participated in my fair share of darshans, pujas, meditations, group therapy, vegetarian love feasts, and ecstatic dance over the years. But, in my 40s, science fiction is exerting its power over me more strongly than any guru or so-called spiritual teacher. I am more likely to buy a Tardis to place on my desk than a singing bowl, or a Doctor Who doll than a Buddha statue. I find deep comfort in the commandments of The Doctor:
“Do everything I tell you, don’t ask stupid questions, and don’t wander off.”
It’s a bit cult like, I admit, but I have amazing faith in a man who knows how to deal with cracks in the universe, speaks five billion languages, protects the planet Earth from complete destruction repeatedly, has the power to regenerate, and looks jaunty in a fez.
Who needs God when you have The Doctor?