When teenage lust meets bio-engineering, the results are sexy and uncomfortable.
Oh tiny, half-robot man, with your body of blinky lights, random hoses, and bits of lego, how I longed for your cold half-robot gaze. Maybe it was the way the light danced across your cheekbones, hinting at the half mechanical wonders hidden within. The strange cadence of your voice, crackling with the energy you consume to survive.
The above cringe-fest is an example of the teen prose inspired by my biggest, all-consuming TV crush: Hugh, the self-aware Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I never asked to fall in love with a man covered in spray-painted garbage. Love found me by way of mysterious distress signal.
13-year-old me desperately wanted a boyfriend, but my SciFi influenced particularities re: the opposite sex set standards no ordinary, earth dwelling boys could live up to. Then this majestic beast made of clicks and whirs and junkyard scraps materializes on my favorite show, gifted to me like an irresistible gingerbread man of metal. A glorious half-robot, assimilated into the Borg from what I assumed was a planet populated exclusively by hot Latino guys. The moment our beloved away team discovered the injured perfection that was 3rd of 5, I prepared to ready my boarding party…of love.
Hugh’s journey from mindless drone to self-aware cyborg hunk was pure emo-teen froth, overflowing with free thought, rebellion, and the discovery of his own identity independent of the collective. Sure, I was initially focused on the possibility of half-robot bathing suit areas also being genetically/mechanically enhanced, but it was his emotional odyssey into the expansive universe of self discovery that really set my engines to maximum warp. My 13-year-old heart swelled with solidarity, understanding, at my core, his desire to both belong and break free. I also wanted my face to belong on his face in a kissing manner.
Hugh began as 3rd of 5, a typical Borg designation. As his interaction with Geordi La Forge (head of engineering) became more personal, a name was born, and we all know how important the ol’ name-give is (Krull, The Never Ending Story, Harry Potter, the list is endless). Hugh’s friendship with Geordi resurfaced in the season seven opener ‘Descent, part II’, where devotion to his engineering buddy provided ample motive for an Emo-Borg uprising. (FYI: Lore, Data’s maniacal brother, is also in that episode. Because one sexy robot wasn’t enough)
I had the action figure, the issue of Star Log featuring the actor, and a rough VHS copy of the episode, recorded during a re-run. I entertained daydreams of Borg shipwrecks in the soccer field where I was the only student brave enough to investigate, discovering my misunderstood soulmate amidst the rubble. Eventually, the crush wore off, as crushes are apt to do. Though, if I recall correctly, it didn’t so much wear off as was replaced by that kid in Stargate, which naturally led to a ridiculous obsession with ancient Egypt, complete with an attempt at teaching myself how to read hieroglyphics. I wish I was kidding.
My heart may have moved on since the early 90s, but a small corner will always glow for my energy-consuming teenage love.
He had me at holographic eye.