Christmas 1977, I was eight years old. Santa brought me a cassette player. Not only could a cassette tape recorder play music it could also record your voice, your cat meowing, or your sister farting. In my stocking I also found a cassette tape: The Star Wars Soundtrack.
My parents never took me to see Star Wars, but my friends had all seen it. Some had seen it 7 or 8 times by that Christmas. I was going to have to wait until it premiered on cable. Regardless of whether I had seen the movie, I was just as obsessed with the story. I listened to that tape until it was worn out and eventually eaten by my new fangled machine.
Every three years or so, my friends and I were once again entranced by the timeless story of good vs. evil. We wondered if Luke would become that Jedi Knight; we prayed that one day he would destroy Darth Vader.
I can’t imagine my childhood without Star Wars. Light sabers, action figures, capes, and Hovercrafts, we ran through the woods or played in the streets impersonating our favorite characters.
This week my students were completely beside themselves in anticipation of the big premiere. And Friday, it was all I could do to keep them from spoiling the storyline for me.
My eight-year-old daughter had not escaped the hype. She came home Friday begging to go see the movie. She wants a light saber and an R2D2. I explained that until she watches Episodes 4-6, the answer is no. I tried to get her to understand that the movie would not be any fun for her if she didn’t have the background knowledge.
Then my husband chimed in, “I know I saw at least one of those films, but I can’t remember which one.” What??!! I married a man who can’t remember if or when he ever saw a Star Wars film?
Yesterday at 1:00pm the indoctrination began. The sand people were a little scary, the cantina creatures weird, but I knew the girl was hooked when she cheered as the Death Star exploded.
Mid-point through Empire we paused for dinner. “Mama, what did that mean when Luke saw his face under Darth Vader’s mask?”
“Well it is a riddle. Do you think you can figure it out?” My husband was whispering Darth Vater under his breath. She hadn’t picked up on the subtle German clue he was trying to give her.
“Mama, does it mean that we all have Darth Vader inside of us?”
“Hmm. Do we all have the potential to be like Vader? That could be what it means.” I said, trying not to give a way the ending.
It was getting late, as we finished. By 9:00pm the girl turned into a Wookiee. Instead of the normal protestations as to why she could not go to bed, we heard only gurgles and howls. As she brushed her teeth and put on her pajamas, she continued to perfect her Wookiee-ness.
My Star Wars journey began when I was eight and now it ends a generation later with my eight-year-old daughter. Or does it end? Great stories never really end, do they? Great stories are revisited and enjoyed, shared and retold. Great stories are epic in scope and take us through a heroic cycle that engulfs us into a fantasy world that we never want to leave.
Great stories remind us that good ALWAYS wins over evil. And in a world like ours, we need that kind of reminder.
May the Force Be With You.