Do you like a thing? Do you want to regret liking it? Why not try fandom?
If there’s anything that can smother the joy you find in something like a full-on encounter with its committed fans I haven’t found it yet, and neither will you, because you’ll be too busy screaming and fleeing, sometimes into a wall. This doesn’t depend on what the thing is: books, theater, furniture, drapery covered in white chocolate, paint, web browsers, rare spices from the Maluku Islands, arcsecants, the Oxford comma, and birdbaths can all trigger it.
Don’t believe me? Think back to the last time you talked about Star Trek with that friend who was way too into it. Remember?
You: Hey, I was feeling like watching something Star Trek tonight. What’s the best Next Generation movie?
Fan: There isn’t one. But First Contact comes closest. That’s the one with the Borg.
You: Oh yeah! You will be assimilated. I should watch that again sometime.
Fan: That’s a not wholly execrable choice. You’ll have to watch “Best of Both Worlds” first.
Fan: Why? It introduced Locutus and assimilation and had that awesome cliffhanger where Riker orders Worf to fire.
You: Oh. Oh, yeah. I guess I can have a double feature night.
Fan: And you’re going to have to watch “I, Borg” in-between so you understand Picard’s lingering low-level telepathic link to the Borg Collective.
You: Can’t you maybe explain it instead?
Fan: I don’t dare spoil you! Oh, you’ve got to see Generations before you get to First Contact.
You: Can I just watch the movie I wanted to watch?
Fan: You’re adorably naive. You have to see how the starship from the TV show was destroyed so you can understand the implications of their being on a wholly new Enterprise.
You: I could maybe just listen to the director’s commentary after if I have any questions.
Fan: Frakes’s commentaries are not without their charms but — oh, that reminds me, you’re going to have to watch “Journey’s End” because that explains why Wesley Crusher isn’t part of the movie franchise.
You: I thought they sold Wesley to a dealer on Delta Pavonis III who stripped him for parts.
Fan: But that’s a time-saving episode to catch because that also explains the political situations between the Maquis and the Cardassians and the Federation so you’re going to have a leg up in the Deep Space Nine episodes that you need to see.
You: I thought the only Deep Space Nine episode I had to see was the one where they went back to the original Trek.
Fan: A pandering trifle.
You: A trifle with tribbles.
Fan: [ After making a disappointed face suggesting an awareness that a situation like this was predicted, but had not been believed could be anything but the worst imaginable case. ] Fortunately I think you only require three Deep Space Nine episodes to get all the necessary background regarding Worf’s presence on the Defiant but they are two-parters. And of course you’ll want to see the other episodes focusing on Wesley and the Traveller so you understand both how he was the helm officer at one point and then was absent from the movie, but that’s only two more episodes to the total.
You: I don’t have to have a little Star Trek night. I could just stare at birdbaths until they burn into my retinas.
Fan: Oh, and you’ll want to watch the series finale of Voyager.
You: Have I not suffered enough?
Fan: I fear there might be some aspect of the multiverse in which you don’t despise Janeway with every fermion of your being.
You: I don’t know. I used to watch Columbo.
Fan: Also you’re going to want to watch this episode where aliens trying to understand leadership abduct Picard and replace him with a duplicate who leads the whole crew in a drunken sing-along in Ten Forward, because nobody remembers anything about this episode and I have to prove I didn’t make it up.
You: [ After sighing ] Which episode is that?
Fan: I don’t know, I can never remember it.
And this is why you watched Empire Strikes Back, without mentioning it to anyone, instead.