Phil began sifting through the box’s musty contents. It appeared to be mostly old magazines. And not even good ones. AND, they were in terrible condition, anyway–damp and wrinkled. He’d only paid fifty cents for the entire box at the auction, but Phil was beginning to suspect even that was too much.
But then he pulled away a tattered old People magazine (cover story: AMERICA LOVES MORK & MINDY!), and underneath was the book. It took him a few seconds to process what he was seeing, and then, realizing what it was–or what he thought it was–he quickly and carefully retrieved it from the box.
It was what he thought it was: A hardcover copy of William Shatner’s Kama Sutra, a lushly (and explicitly) illustrated early 1970s edition of the famous ancient sex manual and guide to virtuous living featuring notes and commentary by the former Captain Kirk. (Luckily, Shatner himself did not illustrate the erotic poses, although an even rarer version of the book featuring just that was rumored to exist; Phil had his doubts).
He flipped through the pages, in shock. He had never seen the book before, not even pictures of it on a computer screen–he had only heard of its legend. It was the Holy Grail of collectibles in the worlds of both rare books and Star Trek (and Trek-related) memorabilia. And aside from a faint mildewy smell (probably from the items packed in the box with the book more so than from the book itself), it was in mint condition–not a stain on it or tear in it anywhere. The dust jacket was even perfectly intact.
Phil was armed with acid-free plastic bags for just such an occasion, and he went to his desk drawer, threw it open, pulled one out, and carefully slipped the book inside. He pitched the rest of the box in the trash straightaway and then made some calls. This was too good an item for eBay or craigslist. He needed a real auction house to be involved.
Eventually–after much hassle, not the least of which was the threat of legal action by Shatner (who, rumor had it, was rightly embarrassed by the book and had spent years, much like George Lucas had with The Star Wars Holiday Special, working in vain to obliterate any evidence of its existence)–the book finally went up for auction.
The bids didn’t even meet the reserve.
Apparently, despite the book’s legend, no one–not even the most sexually liberated Trekkie–was interested in William Shatner’s musings on sex positions.
To this day, Phil has still not found a buyer willing to pay what he wants. Oh, Shatner made all kinds of offers, but Phil knew he just wanted the book so he could destroy it, and after all the court dates and lawyer fees, the last thing Phil wanted to give William Shatner was what he wanted.
And that, friends, is where the commonly-used saying “William Shatner–and the sex/life guide books with which he’s affiliated–are more trouble than they’re worth”, comes from.