A few weeks ago, I wrote about synesthesia and being a synesthete. It’s not nearly as fancy as it sounds.
It just refers to the way some people visualize abstract concepts, and in my case numbers (mostly on a mental calendar, referred to as number form synesthesia). I’ve been this way as long as I can remember, and from early on I had a suspicion that not everyone was like me in this regard. It’s a neurological phenomenon that’s not understood very well, but seldom a big deal. We all have quirks.
I could draw you a year, for example. I can’t do it in Photoshop, etc., because it involves gradients and honestly I don’t have the inclination to figure that out. The way I visualize a specific year, either the current one or in the past, is as a 2-dimensional ellipse filled in with (again) gradients of color that can be manipulated on its axis but remains flat.
There. That’s sort of a year. I could draw lines to demonstrate months, because that’s the way I see it, but interestingly the proportions would be seriously skewed; summer takes up the entire top half (and would be shades of blue and yellow, depending). This was obviously set at some point when I was a kid, which is essentially how synesthesia operates anyway. Childhood is when abstraction becomes a concept.
January is very dark blue, if you’re curious. Always has been.
I have no idea if this is a memory aide or not; it does feel organized, though, and maybe easier for me to reference. I bring it up only because we’re celebrating my mom’s 80th birthday this week, so memory is on my mind. So to speak.
Memory is why I enjoy going to these reunion things, whether it’s friends or family or both. I’m seeking verification, although that’s not likely to happen. Mostly my experience has been that we pool our memories, filling in gaps and trying to piece together what happened and when. Colors don’t help that much.
This is a blessing of the digital age, then. It’s easier to track down facts and confront my memories, adjusting as I do. Often I’m a little disappointed, only because the truth tends to ruin what had been a good story. But occasionally I’m enlightened, and let me put the geek hat on for a minute.
I think I became a fan of Star Trek in the early 1970s, when the syndication machine took off and the fan base with it. I remember coming home from high school with friends and watching them in the afternoon. I must have been familiar with it, but I don’t have memories of watching in their first run.
I do remember hearing, though. I’ve had a distinct memory since childhood of lying in bed at night, listening to the television and Star Trek in the living room. I might have been envious; space was a big deal in the ‘60s, especially to a kid. I really have no idea, though.
What I remember is something about salt. That’s always been there, and then jump ahead a few years to those afternoons after school. I saw that salt episode finally, and got my verification.
Keep jumping. Now I’m an adult, a parent, and I’ve got some sort of Star Trek trivia book that I picked up in a thrift shop. I find out that the salt episode (The Man Trap, if you’re that sort of person) was actually the first show aired (on Sept. 8, 1966, when I was 8). My parents saw the very first one; pretty cool, but also strange. I have no recollection of Star Trek and my parents in any way other than that fuzzy memory of listening from the bedroom. I remember them watching Peyton Place and The Big Valley, but not Shatner and company.
Now one more jump. I dragged that story out of the weeds for a column a few years ago, and here comes the internet and what not. Looking up the actual date, I realized why my parents had probably watched it: It was part of a special new season promotion on NBC, a sneak preview of the upcoming shows. There was probably nothing else on, but they apparently passed after that.
But verification! Take that, you mahogany-colored September 1966.
You know why this is on my mind? Because Lawrence Dobkin, that’s why.
Dobkin is kind of a story. You might recognize the face; the voice might seem very familiar, almost certainly not the name. He had a decent show biz career, though, as an actor on episodic television in the 1950s and 60s, and then as a director. He even has a Star Trek trivia notation, since he was one of only two people to direct and act in an episode of both the original series and The Next Generation.
He was also one of two men to do the famous narration from TV’s Naked City (“There are 8 million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.”).
It gets better.
In 1958, the year I was born, he appeared on a Western show called Trackdown.
And, really, that’s all I have to say. How about that internet.
Also? 1958 is sort of purple.