Tyree Jones’ parents named him after a character from an episode of the original “Star Trek” series.
Tabitha Jones was born on the 10th anniversary of the premiere of the original series.
Plot a course for meant-to-be-together.
Husband and wife, Tyree and Tabitha were interviewed because this year is a big one for anniversaries of Trek farewells.
The last episode of the original series aired 50 years ago — June 3, 1969.
The final “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode aired 25 years ago (May 23, 1994) and the final “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” episode aired 20 years ago (June 2, 1999).
But Tyree and Tabitha, whose lives intersected because of a shared interest in Trek, are proof that the impact of the franchise is enduring.
“Trek will never die because there will always be somebody new introduced to it one way or another, and it will just carry on,” Tyree said.
Tyree and Tabitha met because they were volunteers at Trek Expo, an annual staged-in-Tulsa Star Trek convention that ended in 2012. What year did they meet? They agreed it was “the Shatner convention.” (It’s easier to recall the guest list than the year.)
The matchmaker was fellow Trek Expo staffer Jolene Evans.
“My friend Jolene said she didn’t like what I was dating and asked me what I was looking for,” Tabitha said, replying to her friend that, among other things, she was in the market for a boy scout type. “I wanted somebody with morals, even if they were not necessarily mine.”
Evans shared Tabitha’s phone number with Tyree. He said Evans kept asking, “Have you called her yet?” He said he was busy trying to find a job at that time and hadn’t gotten around to calling the number. When going through his wallet to check out available funds, he saw the phone number and had a “what the heck” moment. He called. And their story, after some details were worked out, began.
Said Tabitha: “I had to explain to him that you can go get a coffee or something and it doesn’t mean you have to drink coffee.”
It turned out that Tabitha and Tyree had encountered each other previously but hadn’t officially met. Their first date was a Trek Expo volunteer meeting (read: comfort in numbers) at IHOP. They stuck around and talked after the meeting ended.
Tabitha lived in Muskogee, and Tyree lived in Tulsa. They didn’t see much of each other except for subsequent Trek Expo meetings at IHOP. But they spent a lot of time talking online and on the phone. She said they got to know each other so well and talked about so many things that they became like an older married couple before they were married.
Of course, they had a mutual interest in Star Trek to talk about. “I hate to say it, but I was more of a (Leonard) Nimoy fan and less of a Star Trek fan,” Tabitha said. “I have seen everything he has been in, even ‘Zombies of the Stratosphere.’ I sat through a huge movie to see a five-minute bit part.”
Tyree said they found out they had many other shared interests, including “cheesy” movies in certain genres.
“It was funny,” he said. “We took that marriage counseling test and the guy said, ‘It’s amazing. Your communication skills are (off the chart).’ ”
“We scored a 97 on our compatibility, and he asked if we took it in the same room,” Tabitha said. “We didn’t take it at the same time.”
Tyree (his first marriage) and Tabitha (her second marriage) have been wed for six years. Their wedding ceremony wasn’t one of those where the bride and groom dress up like Klingons. She wore the dress she wore on their first date and her sister made a “Star Wars”-themed wedding cake. They like sci-fi other than Trek.
Tabitha is among admins for a “Friend Trek” group on Facebook. The group is mostly for former Trek Expo volunteers so they can meet regularly like they did during the con’s heyday, but it’s open to anyone interested in “geekdom.” The group meets the third Sunday of every month.
“The only rule is no drama,” Tabitha said. “Bring somebody, and you’re responsible for them.”
During an interview at Vintage Toy Mall, Tyree shared details about his namesake. The Tyree from Star Trek mythology appeared in “A Private Little War.” It’s a season two episode in which Capt. Kirk is bitten by a mugato, a horned gorilla creature with white fur. Kirk’s friend, Tyree, lives on the planet. Kirk receives medical treatment from Tyree’s wife.
The episode wasn’t about a gorilla bite. It was about an arms race and, at the time the episode aired, it was intended as food for thought about the Vietnam War.
“One thing I do like about the original series, the key issues that pop up in society, they actually brought it to the forefront in television,” Tyree said. “That was one of the first television series I can think of that did that, and they did it on such a scale that if you didn’t (realize) it, you just thought, ‘Oh that was a great story.’ ”
Tyree and Tabitha are in the process of binge-watching the various Trek series chronologically. They’re up to season two of “Enterprise.”
“We are told it gets better,” she said. “I hope so.”
They were asked if they get in heated debates about Trek. He said they think so similarly that it’s scary. She said she can’t think of anything they argue about, but she said Tyree gets loud sometimes because, well, he can be loud.
So the best Trek series is which one?
“The best written and acted would be ‘Deep Space Nine,’ ” Tabitha said, also indicating that the series was different in that if you missed an episode you might be behind on a storyline.
“ ‘Deep Space Nine,’ probably. ‘Voyager’ is pretty good. ‘Next Gen’ did too much to try to bridge gaps. I admit the first one was fairly cheesy, but you still can’t beat the iconic characters.”
Tyree said he would be inclined to agree.
“When ‘Deep Space Nine’ first aired, I was like, OK, I don’t know how this is going to work,” he said. “But when we get past the first season when all the characters are established, it was like, OK, we gave you your characters and this is the story and it’s just phenomenal of how well they did it.”
“It was the only one of the Star Treks that seemed to just wrap everything up,” Tabitha said. “All the others were, oh, let’s just end.”
The Joneses were asked if people are allowed to trash Trek while in their presence. All good, as long as the critic has a valid point.
“This is our thing, but everyone has got different opinions,” Tyree said.
“It’s not like the over-the-top fan that you say anything bad about their genre and they get all stabby,” she said. “You get some people who get downright violent. You talk bad about their sports team, and they are ready to key your car. Nothing is that important.”
Could their marriage work if either of them hated Trek?
“Yeah, we have enough things in common,” Tabitha said.
“Yeah. Hell, yeah,” Tyree said.
“It’s like anything else,” she said. “If you know your partner really hates something, then you avoid it.”
If not for Trek, Tyree might have wound up with someone other than a soul mate who sometimes finishes sentences for him. It was jokingly suggested to him he might have instead connected with a Kardashian. He said he would rather deal with a Ferengi.
“You might like a female Ferengi,” Tabitha said. “They are very subservient. That would drive you nuts after a while.”
Parting words at the end of the interview: Live long and prosper.
Replied Tabitha: “Peace and long life.”