Asking me if I love Elim Garak is like asking a fish if water is wet and you'll get the same response: a blank stare, a haughty flip of the tailfins, then turn and swim away (after pausing to wiggle my butt in your face). Hey, if blind adoration is a crime, lock me up and swallow the key! Quizzing me on where this terminal lizard lust comes from, however...that requires a bit more detail.
No doubt about it, Garak is one complex creation - an intoxicating blend of intrigue, passion, beauty and soul. I know the man isn't perfect; well past it, in fact. Over the past two years, I have watched with eyes wide open as the many facets of Elim's personality unfolded on my screen, the good and the not-so-pretty. I won't pass judgement on Garak for anything he's done; he has his reasons, and that's good enough for me. What I am going to do is cover those things about Elim which fascinate and attract me; qualities that, in my opinion, make him the catch of the 24th century.
"Truth, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder."
Let me put it to ya straight: Elim G is all that and a bottle o' kanaar, baby! Those intense blue eyes, alight with...what? Intelligence? Cunning? Passion? Mischief? How 'bout all of the above. When Garak flashes that smile, his entire face comes alive and I lose all consciousness. I'd pay good money for a chance to run my hands through that luxuriant jet-black hair (What, I'm casting for a shampoo commercial!), trace a curious finger along those sensuous scales ... mmm, scales. <Cattnip slaps a paw across her cheek> Ouch! Heh, I got a 'little' carried away there but it's all right, I'm back now. Please, don't look at me like I'm some kind of weirdo. I swear, I have never once acted on my kinky reptilian fantasies...unless you count that time I tried to jump into the 'gator tank at the zoo. Don't remember much, just shouting something about bringing the species into the next phase of evolution and singing 'Crocodile Rock' at the top of my voice. What can I say? It was a hot day.
Anyhoo, Garak. I never tire of looking at him. I am reminded of a line from a classic song by the artist formerly known as Prince: "Anyone with a body like yours oughta be in jail. It's on the verge of being obscene." Mm hmm. AND the dude can dress! That reminds me - I really should send a subspace thanks to Cardassia for their contribution to beautifying the Alpha Quadrant. Consider that Bajoran occupation thing wiped from the record! Okay, where was I? Oh yes...
"I'm a man of many talents."
For sure! Garak earns his living as a tailor, but his previous career as an intelligence agent for the Obsidian Order (Cardassian secret service) left him with so much knowledge on the tricks of the spy trade that it puts James Bond to shame. Is that rotten neighbor swiping your newspaper off the front porch and you want to catch him red-handed? Not a problem! Surveillance devices and sabotage techniques are Garak's specialty. Here's a treat for the NRA enthusiast in a quandary about which personal sidearm to give mom for Mother's Day (I opt for the disruptor, but that's a personal preference). Garak can rattle off the pros and cons of every piece of combat equipment on the legal market and some that isn't. He knows it all and has made use of it all. He'll mend your clothes. He can make your garden grow and he'll keep your secrets for you - unless it suits his purpose not to, but hey, nobody's perfect.
"Where you offer kindness, I offer mystery..."
It goes without saying that Garak is an enigma. For every fact we uncover, there are a hundred mysteries lurking under cover, waiting to have the sheets thrown back. Garak's shaky relationship with the truth assures that he can hold you rapt as he crafts one beguiling fabrication after another, filling your head with so many exaggerated tales and half-truths that you'll never sort 'em all out. He's savvy and inscrutable - aren't you inscrutable, Garak? Yes you are, you're so inscrutable!
Lest you think dear Elim is bothered by his reputation as a scoundrel, you needn't worry - he goes out of his way to preserve it.
Garak: "My dear doctor, they're all true."
Bashir: "Even the lies."
Garak: "Especially the lies."
As I said, story time with Garak is never boring, and he does it all with such charm and panache, making him the quintessential smooth talker (Lord help me now!). Which brings me to...
"If there's one thing Cardassians excel at, it's conversation."
Cardassians do love to talk; they have opinions on everything and Garak is no exception. He has a definitive flair for words, a curious and inquisitive nature, an insatiable appetite for intellectual stimulation - and one spectacular set of pipes. His voice is liquid and flowing, and child, one word from those lips is all I need to feel like honey in the hive - warm and sticky. H'oh yeah!
Showing off another turn of his dynamic personality, Garak frequently offers up pearls of wisdom that never fail to make pious Federation do-gooders like Ben Sisko and co. cringe. Personally, I think the man is possessed of remarkable insight and loads of common sense, but judge for yourself.
"The truth is usually just an excuse for lack of imagination." I bet almost everyone you know pays lipservice to the truth, don't they? Preaching honesty as the best policy and all that, but let's face facts - those people are full of crap. In the real world, we lie to get by and only fall back on the truth when all else fails. Oh bla dee, oh bla da, life goes on.
"Never let sentiment get in the way of your work." See Garak's comments about rules in war a few paragraphs down for my take on this.
"Lying is a skill like any other and if you want to maintain a level of excellence, you have to practice constantly." Come on, you know he's right. Come on!
"There comes a time when the odds are against you and your only course of action is to quit!" Bravo! I'm glad someone besides me and the late W.C. Fields gets it. He's a chap who once said, "If at first you don't succeed, try again...then quit. No sense making a damn fool of yourself." Or getting your damn self killed, for that matter.
"Humans have rules in war. Rules that tend to make victory a little harder to achieve, in my opinion." I'm not condoning violence by any means, but in war, what is the main object of the game? To beat the enemy back from your turf. Now in order to achieve this, you must be willing to pull out all the stops, what we Americans define as "kicking ass." If licking ass - i.e. getting along with everybody and not what you were thinking, shame on you very much! - is more your style, then you might as well hand over your territories, say a prayer for the womenfolk and hope the bad guys put you out of their misery quick.
Not to be forgotten, Garak's famous take on The Boy Who Cried Wolf: "(Shouldn't the moral be) 'never tell the same lie twice?'" Aesop is spinning in his grave, y'all!
"Tell them (Starfleet) you'd be honored to serve under me."
<snicker> Bwahahahahaha! That quote does illustrate a point, but mainly its here because I just couldn't resist sticking it 'somewhere.'
Remarks like the above (from "In Purgatory's Shadow," runabout scene with the ultraserious Worf) are what drew me to Elim in the first place. Humor is the single ingredient which adds spice to any dish; it's always been a weakness of mine, and sarcasm a turn-on. Or is that the other way 'round? Ah, who cares... Garak was born with a natural wit - razor-sharp, quick as lightening and always, 'always' on target. In other words, he's a total smartass.
"You have a lovely daughter. She must take after her mother." So saith Garak to a certain apoplectic gul when he found my dear tailor chatting up Ziyal who, coincidentally, was the only person in the quadrant who didn't view Dukat as a steaming heap of vole droppings by that time (unless you count Damar, and I don't, ever).
Garak addresses a hostile group of Klingons invading his shop: "Let me guess...you're either lost, or desperately searching for a good tailor." This just before they beat him bloody. Of course, they were planning to do it anyway, so why not give 'em hell on the way down? Of course, Garak had made a few catty remarks to these same Klingons in Quark's a few minutes before, but the important thing is that while Garak healed quickly under the tender ministrations of one Dr. Julian Bashir, he "got off several cutting remarks which no doubt did serious damage to their (the Klingons) egos. Damage that will last a lifetime." Ha ha, so there!
Garak is an antagonist. You can tell by the sparkle in his eyes that he gets off on getting a rise out of people. Even when the consequences might prove painful, he can't resist pushing those buttons, and why should he? It's the Cardassian way, after all.
While Julian sweet-talks professor Honey Bare in "Our Man Bashir," Garak grouses, smirks, releases a perfectly timed beleaguered sigh and roll of the eyes. See, it's not only what Garak says that brings this character to such animated life, but the body language - posture, hand gestures, even the tilt of Garak's head can say more about what he's feeling and thinking than if you were to ask him outright (he'd probably lie to you anyway). Andrew Robinson has one of the most expressive faces I have ever seen and with Garak, he uses it to the hilt. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy writing him in off-the-wall scenarios, like guesting on Jerry Springer or dealing with a dim bulb like Antonia; Garak can play along in any situation and make it believable. He's also a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
"Never underestimate my gift for survival."
Garak is exiled and - save for Dr. Bashir and at one time, Ziyal (to whom I lovingly refer as "Dead Girl") - very much alone. Most of his friends are dead, and those who aren't turned their backs long ago. Garak has spent every day of his life attempting in vain to please the father who denied him, even on his deathbed. On - his - deathbed (A note for Enabran Tain: dude, shit like that comes back to haunt you, if not in this life then the next. You could be reborn as the bastard lovechild of a Cardassian legate - Garak - who will ship you offworld to save face; you'll spend your whole miserable existence in some distant Gamma Quad hellhole, suctioning out sewer systems for below minimum wage and maybe doing a little table dancing on the side to make ends meet. It's called karma; read about it)!
As if all that wasn't enough, Garak suffers severe claustrophobic attacks. Yet instead of falling down and playing dead, Garak not only finds a reason to roll out of bed in the morning, he also manages to thrive in every way possible.
I admire his chutzpah you know? The way he's held on to his dignity in spite of terrible humiliation, pain and traumas that would break a lesser being. You can beat him, shoot him, get him hooked on drugs, banish him, betray him and blow him up, but Garak will always claw his way out from under the rubble and push on as he did before, pausing only to offer a middle finger to the latest round of folks who would love to see him wiped out once and for always. Joke's on you, kids; I'm still standing.
"I hope I haven't shattered too many of your illusions."
Yes, Garak does have his vulnerable spots like the rest of us, but don't pity him. God no! Garak would only sneer and remind you that he doesn't need it, then come off with a quip or cutting remark that would stop you in your tracks. Remember, this is a chap who got someone so riled up that they had him permanently booted from the homeworld. Theories abound as to why this was, but I bet he made wicked fun of the way some highbrow Cardassian official dressed.
"Or perhaps they decided they
just didn't like me." Not like you? Impossible!
~ The End ~
Back to the Table of Contents