I still remember being thirteen years old, and all but clueless about sex, when I first read the James Blish novelization of the Star Trek episode “Amok Time.” I didn’t know it then, but that episode was going to change the course of mywriting life.
Well, because of this:
For the exact moment that altered the course of my personal history, go to time stamp 5:07 and…wait for it.
Unless you already know about the biology of Vulcans…biology, as in reproduction.
If you don’t yet, suffice it to say that the Vulcans don’t exactly play the mating game the way we humans do. Actually, they don’t play the mating game at all.
If you’re a Vulcan, sex is a life-or-death proposition. You mate, or you die. Of course, if the mate your parents arranged for you decides they don’t want you, you might end up embroiled in a fight to the death…
Because, really, you can’t have lust-maddened and murderous Vulcans running around loose on the planet. Wouldn’t be logical. So he who doesn’t get the girl gets dead. Simple. Expedient. And oh-so-logical….
So, is my interest only salacious?
I’m intrigued by the contrasts between the level of discipline, logic, and control Vulcans are usually capable of – and then the time when all of that melts away, and all that is left is this one overwhelming urge that becomes a matter of life or death. It’s a radically different sexuality, and one that can’t simply be ignored. Every adult Vulcan has to accommodate it, in one way or another, throughout their reproductive years. I wonder how this affects their family life – parents experiencing the cycle couldn’t trust themselves around their children, or care for them while preoccupied with mating, so allowances would have to be made.
And there would almost certainly be injuries – despite T’Pol’s claim that she won’t hurt Phlox if he mates with her, it’s well known that Vulcan sexuality, with all those primal passions unleashed, is more forceful and violent than the human variety generally is…at least, when both parties are consenting participants to the act.
There’s also a telepathic element, and Vulcans are hand-centric – watching both Spock and T’Pol while they’re in pon farr, it’s obvious that they express their aroused state through their shaking hands, which seem to need touch…
Why have I spent so much time thinking about all this?
Well, I tend to like the psychology of interactions, and the thought of humans and Vulcans- like Spock’s parents, Sarek and Amanda, or T’Pol and Trip – embarking on intimate relationships makes me wonder just how they navigate their vastly different sexual landscapes.
Sex in a relationship is always a negotiation, but this is even more so. Not only don’t they share a cultural base; they don’t even share a common species. Abilities and sensitivities are not the same.
We can assume that Sarek and Amanda have worked out a viable arrangement, since we first meet them when their son is grown, and they must have gone through several cycles already.
But what about Trip and T’Pol? We know that T’Pol has never experienced pon farr before the virally-induced episode that Phlox managed to treat with a vaccine. And we know that she and Trip had a sexual relationship, because….
Our Vulcan lady is definitely the take-charge type – but the writers left the couple just after that second kiss, and, the next time we see these two together, it’s the next morning, Trip opens his mouth about it in public, T’Pol thanks him for ‘facilitating my exploration of human sexuality’, Trip feels like a lab rat and says so, and they deal with the morning-after awkwardness with the same confusion that marked the discussion that led up to their encounter – well, their whole relationship, really.
And, you see, I need more than that. I need to know how these two very different people negotiate that interaction we know happened between T’Pol dropping her robe, and calmly sipping tea in the mess hall while Trip falls all over himself trying to get her to admit that she felt something.
I mean, they were both there, and we weren’t, and that’s not really fair.
I know T’Pol can negotiate – kissing on the mouth is not a part of Vulcan sexuality. And yet, the way she turns a neuro-pressure therapy session into foreplay seems all Vulcan. Trip is floored, clearly – but also receptive. He’s waited a long time for this moment, and I have to think he was sure it would never happen…
But the space between. It’s because of that that I’m hooked, that I have bits and pieces running through my head, that I imagine how that negotiation would play out between them, over time…
And it all has to do with Vulcan biology, and how it interacts with human… and that one moment, when the course of Vulcan sexuality was set.
Am I the only one who wonders about what happens between the scenes and the sheets of my favorite shows? Drop me a line, and share your curiosity, too!