Back in the early 2000s, I was a contractor for a military newspaper which served Naval Station Norfolk — the biggest navy base in the world. Because of that, I got to attend a few events through my four years of work at the paper. I knew someone who worked at the Virginia Air and Space Center, and she was nice enough to invite me to interview Marina Sirtis — who we all know as Counselor Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
I was pretty excited for this interview, and grateful to my friend for giving a pass to my wife and I to attend the gala, which Ms. Sirtis was the guest of honor. The museum, to this day is still the coolest place in Southeastern, Virginia — if you’re ever in the area, plan a visit — was hosting an exhibit called “Star Trek: Federation Science.”
This put visitors in front of touch screens made in the style of the Enterprise-D, where stars from TNG would explain scientific concepts. Videos from Patrick Stewart, Gates McFadden, LeVar Burton, and Brent Spiner (as Data) were a part of the show.
On the evening of January 26, 2001, the gala at the museum was on. My wife and I went together, and I brought my trusty green camera bag, which is what used to hold my camera and notebook. Just a note to young readers, this was a film camera, and I would take notes with a pen and paper. Nowadays, many reporters go in with just their iPhone and they are good to go. This was not so back in those days.
I was pretty nervous to interview Sirtis, as The Next Generation was my favorite Trek show. At the time, I had never interviewed anyone as famous as she was.
We walked in to the Center and the place was packed. Everyone was either dressed up like it was the Oscars, or they were in cosplay. Yes, there was a Borg drone scanning the crowd and a Vulcan or two.
Anyhow, my friend hustled my wife and I back to an educational room where we’d meet Ms. Sirtis, who was running very late. I guess that was OK. They really couldn’t start the party until she got there.
When she finally got there, the staff from the Center stood by with my wife as I started to interview Ms. Sirtis. My wife took my camera and took a photo of me with Sirtis (as seen at the top of this story). When I reached into my bag to grab my reporter’s notebook — it was gone!
Where could I have left my notebook? It was probably in the car… but I could not ask Ms. Sirtis to wait while I ran back to my car to retrieve my notebook! All I could do was use a small piece of cardboard to try to record some of what she said. That worked for about 30 seconds.
I had her autograph my “Where No One Has Gone Before” picture book, and asked her a few questions. She talked about how Trek changed her life and allowed her to live and work in the United States, and how grateful she was. It was a really good interview. One that I wished I had notes for.
As soon as it was over, and she left to join the party, I was incredibly relieved that it was over. But I couldn’t remember a darn thing. The cardboard from the camera bag was full of the notes of an extremely nervous person.
To this day, I’ve regretted that mistake, and it may be why I am borderline paranoid now about making sure my interviews are recorded or I am taking great notes.
Even though Marina Sirtis is not a Betazoid in real life, I’m pretty sure she could read my mind that evening. The fact that I was so nervous… not about the missing notebook.