When I was 9 years old, I stood on the longest line I’d ever seen to see the new movie everyone was talking about. When the word went down the line that Star Wars had sold out, I think my mother was actually relieved. Still, she did try again and I was able to see the movie finally. She took me a total of three times. Later, during the summer, I visited my sister Ann on Martha’s Vinyard where she was living that summer and as we walked by a movie theater, I heard the sounds of light sabers and begged her to take me in to see it. She bought me a ticket and I went in, half-way through the movie and then sat through it again from the beginning. (Continues…)
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That halloween, with the help of a brunette wig (I was a bright blonde at that age) I was Han Solo. I turned the bottom bunk of my bed into the Millennium Falcon. I wrote stories about the adventures of Han and Chewie (in which my cat was usually some alien villain they had to defeat). I read the book, had the action figures, had the sheets and lunchbox and owned all of the play sets (including my favorite, the Falcon itself. When in the 4th grade I developed a huge crush on my newest classmate, Courtney from Australia. I sent her an anonymous note declaring my love for her, I blew my cover by accidentally putting the tails on my R’s and S’s as in the Star Wars logo. Everyone in class knew of my obsession so I knew that she must have known it was me. Of course, she never said anything to me about it.
I doodled in school as everyone does but my drawings were nearly always X-Wings, TIE Fighers, the Death Star, the Falcon and Imperial Cruisers. (Though, sometimes, they were also Battlestar Galactica vipers because, well, I could draw those.) I created posters and dreamed up techniques for filming space battles and other sci fi goodness, were I ever to actually get my hands on a camera.
The years went on and episodes V and VI came and went. I loved those movies too (in fact, to this day, Episode V has always been my favorite) but those early days of obsession were never matched at any later time. And I grew up. I watched Star Wars many times over the years, can still quote the entire movie. I still remember that they were in trash compactor 3263827 and that “some of the other guys were talking about [the BT-16 and that] they said it is quite a thing to see.” [That’s a sample of the worst ad-libbed dialogue of all time, spoken by two Storm Troopers as Obi-Wan is deactivating the tractor beam in Episode IV]. I saw the special editions in the late 90s and saw the new episodes with a mixture of excitement and some disappointment in recent years. And every time I saw “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” I got excited and felt like a little kid again. For Jack’s sixth birthday back in March, I let him watch Episodes IV through VI and have been enjoying every moment of his new obsession with the movies.
Today we visited the Boston Museum of Science to take in the Star Wars exhibit. I’ve been pretty sanguine about the whole thing. When we were trying to figure out our schedules to make this happen, I told Ann to take Jack and not worry about me. I need to work and don’t want to deprive Jack of this fun. But she insisted we all go and so I worked from 6AM today so I could knock off at 2:30, get Jack at school and all head to Boston. And I am so glad I went. I had no idea that that little kid still lived inside me and that I would get such a thrill out of this show. I had figured that they had some actual items from the movies but I really never thought much about it. I was completely unprepared for the actual models of the ships, the actual costumes, the actual landspeeder, actual light saber props, the actual Yoda puppet, and so much more.
When I looked up from the model of the Imperial Cruiser (they only made one for Episode IV so when you see a cruiser, any cruiser, it was this particular cruiser) and saw the Millennium Falcon I got this crazy smile on my face. It was an incredible feeling. Almost, dare I say it, religious. This was it. This was the very ship that had so captured my imagination. I loved looking at my toy of it. I loved drawing it. I loved everything about this ship. And here it was. The real Millennium Falcon. I was not expecting nor was I prepared for my reaction. I couldn’t take my eyes off it it. I walked around a few times and snapped a number of detail photos (for full photos, see my flickr photoset).
After the exhibit, we rode a quick, silly Falcon simulator in which Anthony Daniels told us about the Universe and then we headed on home. All three of us had an amazing time. Ann and I are old fans and Jack is a fresh new one. And no matter how much my childhood was infused with Star Wars, I think my favorite memory of the entire Star Wars universe will be the image of my son, sitting in the robot theater watching a presentation about robot and what they can do today, waving at the C-3PO model sitting in front of us, moving, and voiced by a recording of Anthony Daniels because he truly believed that that was the real, actual Threepio.