Star Wars fans cherish their memories and can answer any question posed to them without batting an eye. What was the first Star Wars toy your parents bought you? How old were you when you realized Princess Leia/Han Solo was hot? Did you cry the first time you saw the trailer for Phantom Menace? (X Wing Pilot Luke Skywalker. Ten, possibly eleven. Yes. I found out later that tears were appropriate, just not tears of joy.)
Star Wars has been a part of my entire life. Movies, toys, books, video games, and graphic novels are just a few of the things that inhabit the large portion of my brain that is reserved exclusively for all things Star Wars. Not all of these memories are great, however. Like Salacious B. Crumb, some memories are a little strange.
Never Tell Me, “Never Tell Me the Odds”: Going to the mall with your mom as a little kid can be hit or miss. Sometimes you go to the cool stores. But more often than not, it was boring. This time was one of the latter. My mom was looking for a new refrigerator. This was not something that interested me, so I decided to see what was on the televisions. Luckily for me, they were showing The Empire Strikes Back. I was seven, so I had seen Empire only 22 times. One of my favorite parts was about to happen. Han, Leia, C-3PO, and Chewie were attempting to escape the Empire and had to fly through an asteroid field. After 3PO tells Han the miniscule odds they have Han replies, “Never tell me the odds.” I was so caught up in the moment that I repeated the line out loud. I looked up and saw an older man staring at me. He looked back at me sadly and shook his head. I haven’t told anyone to not tell me the odds since.
The Price of a Falcon: Star Wars did not teach me the value of a dollar. It did not teach me the exchange rate of credits or whether the Emperor was planning to put his face on Imperial currency. What Star Wars did teach me was what income tax bracket my family fell in to. The Star Wars vehicle I wanted most was the Millennium Falcon made by Kenner. The Falcon was sleek, aerodynamic, and could make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. The toy was just as amazing. The top could be removed to put in multiple Kenner Star Wars figures and the top and bottom turrets could turn 360 degrees. One November day my mom took my sister and me to the toy store so we could show her what we wanted for Christmas. I showed my mom the Falcon. I knew she would get it for me. When we opened gifts that Christmas morning, I saved the biggest present for last. The Falcon was not as big as I remembered it in the toy store, but that didn’t bother me. Then I tore off the gift wrap. My mom had gotten me the Millennium Falcon. However, it wasn’t the Kenner Millennium Falcon. My mom had bought me a model of the Falcon that was at most half as big. I looked at my mom. I remember her looking worried. Something told me that it was very important that I liked this gift. I already knew how important money was, but for the first time I realized we did not have a lot of it. I smiled at my mom and told her it was exactly what I wanted. That morning, my mom helped me put the model together. For years, it was my favorite toy. Best of all, the guns could swivel.
Star Wars Costume Contests Ain’t No Joke: By the time Revenge of the Sith was released, the prequels were considered a disappointment. That did not stop my future wife and I from seeing it opening night. Unsurprisingly, the crowd was large and boisterous. We were let into the theater an hour early. Everyone talked about their favorite Star Wars moments, how much we hated Anakin Skywalker, and what Sith would need to do to salvage the prequels. Shortly after we were let in, the theater manager addressed us. He thanked everyone for coming out and told us he had something planned for us. We were going to have a costume contest. And best of all, the audience would be the judges. The first contestant got up. Dressed as a Jedi in brown robes, he twirled his lightsaber as he danced up the aisle. The costume was homemade and the moves were impressive. Everyone cheered except for one kid in an obviously store-bought Stormtrooper costume in the front row. (The costume was cool, by the way.) The kid was no more than six and proceeded to tell everyone how the previous contestant had a fake costume and was not a real Jedi. The kid proceeded to berate each contestant, getting especially angry at the person who was wearing a Boba Fett helmet, belly shirt and daisy dukes. By the time it was the kid’s turn, I figured I would turn to my girlfriend and quietly boo the kid. The boo came out much louder than I expected. Hoping no one had heard me, I looked around in shame. It wasn’t my boo I had heard. The whole theater was booing the kid. By the time the next contestant (Darth Maul) received a standing ovation, the child was in tears. That is the day I learned Star Wars is no joke.
Star Wars is an American institution that shows no signs of letting up. For many, it would be impossible to imagine their childhood without it. It has provided memories that we hold dear and fondly reminisce about. However, Star Wars has given me more than just cherished childhood memories. George Lucas’s tale has also taught me a little about life.