Tuesday afternoon, I received a text message from one of my editors. She asked me if I would like to go to the advance screening of Star Trek Beyond the following day and to bring someone with me. Immediately, I thought about bringing my father.
My pops is a little too cool to be going to conventions and speaking Klingon. However, since day one, September 22, 1966, Travis Milner has been a Trekkie. While I don’t recall seeing him ever watch them, my father had every episode of Star Trek-and the Mary Tyler Moore Show-recorded onto VHS (Maybe this was because he worked so much or wanted to keep his nerd-dom under wraps). For Christmases and birthdays, I knew a can’t-miss gift for my dad was something Star Trek–even if I knew absolutely nothing about it.
Almost anything that revolved around Star Trek was because of my father. On a family vacation to Universal Studios, my family acted out a thirty minute episode via blue screen (the screens were still blue in 1992). I played Mr. Spock and donned the Vulcan ears. How did we celebrate my ninth birthday? By seeing Star Trek Generations, the film starring Captain Kirk and Jean Luc Picard’s crew. Why? Because it was released on November 22, 1994; my birthday. These were some of the rare moments in which it was all about dad.
After speaking with my editor, I immediately called my father. I asked him if he was free Wednesday evening and wanted to go to the screening with me. One to rarely ever show his excitement, I had to read between the lines. He told me that he was debating whether or not he was going to watch the movie online or going to the theater to actually see it had decided on the latter. In Travis, that meant “Oh hell yeah! It’s about to be LIT!”
We met up in Wednesday evening at the train station in Baldwin and took the Long Island Railroad into the city. When we got to the theater, my father told me that he’d rest up against one of those large, green garbage cans while I waited in line. I looked at him and thought “Line? Please, we’re walking right in there!” I gave him a minute while I went to will call and thirty seconds later waved him in, saying “Let’s go.” He asked me “We don’t have to wait in line?” I replied “Hell no!”
During the screening, I pulled the most Travis Milner move of all time: I fell asleep fifteen minutes into the movie. I was tired as all hell from entertaining my daughter all day while trying to fit in a full day’s worth of work. Briefly waking up every ten minutes or so-just enough to pay attention and write my review the next day-I could see and hear my father following along intently (he too pulled a Travis Milner and dozed off for a couple seconds). He laughed when the rest of the crowd did and all of that. Because I knew of the millions of times this has happened and the roles were reversed, I laughed internally.
For all of the years I’d gone backstage to see my father perform in various parts of the country and the nights I hoped to see of one of my favorite rappers at his job at Soundtrack Studios on 23rd and Broadway; I finally was able to take him along and say “This is part of what I do.” At this point, my father has seen me sit in front of a laptop for years and shared dozens of articles I’ve written with my tagline “Read It Because I Wrote It.” This was something tangible.
I am almost certain that in his mind, my father was replaying the memory of taking his five year old son on the F train from Queens to Madison Square Garden for WWF’s SummerSlam, ’91. He’s not the virile thirty-three year old anymore. The long, black ponytail he donned is not a blonde caesar cut with gray roots. His knees aching from almost sixty years of wear-and-tear slowed him down. Standing a little taller than he, there is still a part of me that still looks up to my dad as if my eye level is slightly above his waist. To some extent, the evening was centered around both of us fondly reliving moments of youth.