I’ve managed to get a lot of mileage out of that phrase today. And much to The Offspring’s horror, I will be continuing tomorrow for all my northern hemisphere pals….
You see I am of an age where not only do I get to do what I like as long as it’s legal but where I can remember attending the release of the original Star Wars movie. So, sorry Offspring – you’ll just have to get over it.
1978 was a rough year. Dad was diagnosed in February with terminal cancer and we had to leave our farm to move into town so Mum could care for him. I was 11, Daniel was nearly five and Erana was three. So yeah, things were….rough.
When Star Wars was released I was really excited and I remember waiting for it to arrive in our small farming community. Waiting, waiting, waiting. I so desperately wanted to see it because it looked So Cool. Cooler even – if such a thing was possible – than Star Trek. Jeez, I was already a geek back then.
Opotiki had only one cinema – it had only one of most things except oddly enough pharmacies and bookshops, of which there were two each, but I digress – so when Star Wars arrived the whole town knew about it.
To my huge delight Mum agreed I could go to the Friday evening showing with kids from class. I would go to the Saturday matinee any chance I possibly could; if needs be my Grandmother was always good for the $2 that got me in and put an ice-cream and a candy bar in my sticky little paws. Any chore was worth doing if the reward was a movie – and funnily enough, I’ll still do pretty much anything in exchange for a good film. I was very relieved the day I read that Stephen King was as much a movie buff as he was a book lover – I hadn’t made a monumental mess up in career choice after all.
Anyway, Mum had agreed to the Friday night showing and I was so excited I could hardly contain myself; I had been to movies at night before but never without an adult. That was when things got momentarily tricky. Dad had a sudden reluctance to his eldest daughter going to the movies by herself at night, even if she was being dropped off and picked up by Mum and couldn’t get into any mischief in our tiny town where everyone, their dog and their dog’s fleas knew my parents. Especially my Dad. I have a vague recollection of a protest from Dad – the words ‘but what about boys?’ may have been uttered – and Mum making suitably soothing noises and the result being me letting go of my held breath with relief. I was going.
Mum dropped me off and handed me the money and told me she would be there to pick me up when it finished. She didn’t need to warn me not to go anywhere – no way was I risking this privilege by doing something dumb. Several kids from my class were already waiting, we bought our tickets, stocked up on candy and took our seats.
From the time of the now iconic opening sequence to the last credits, my eyes never left the screen. I was captivated. Poor Luke – his family killed by Storm Troopers. What about that funky Princess Leia – how cool was she even if her hair was kinda weird? (Though even then, I did kind of wonder why they put her in that stupid dress). Darth Vader – oh boy, he was creepy in a way Klingons never were. He was almost as creepy as the Daleks on Dr Who (the only things known to give me nightmares to this day – knowing they are glorified salt shakers doesn’t help). Chewbacca – a Tribble on steroids. And, and, and – Han – tremble- Solo. My little 11 year old heart was spellbound by Han Solo. He was not only cool in a way I had never known existed but he was seriously HOT. Luke was cute but Han Solo was - well I was too young to actually know what he was, but I knew he was something.
The first thing I did when I got in the car after the movie was ask Mum if I could go back the next day. I would even take my brother. Now you need to know how much of a sacrifice this was for me. My brother is six years younger than me, and at five, none of the descriptions I had for him included the words ‘cool’ or ‘neat to be around’. Today we’re very close and I find him both of those things, but back in 1978 I was only just getting over the horror of him starting at my school. Also, he didn’t have the greatest track record when it came to movies. He tended to get bored easily and I remember getting home from Disney’s The Lady and The Tramp and declaring “never, ever again” – he’d been a royal pain in the seat all afternoon and I missed the Siamese cats do their song because he had to go to the bathroom. But, if taking Daniel with me meant I got to see Star Wars again, I was prepared to risk it.
Mum agreed and the next afternoon we were sitting in the dark, with as many snacks as I’d been able to get in order to keep him quiet and waiting for the magic to begin. Little did I know it really was magic.
Daniel didn’t move. He didn’t utter a peep. I don’t think he even ate his candy. He was as mesmerised as I was. These days he is an even bigger geek than I am – though if you tell him I said so, I’ll deny it, he’s bigger than me. Of course, he’s one of those cool geeks….go figure.
That Friday night was one of the few times I did something with kids my own age and felt like I belonged – something that never really happened again until I was an adult and found other Springsteen fans. On the Saturday I discovered a shared passion with my brother that has lasted over 30 years.
Looking back, I know even that overheard conversation between my parents was a gift – I got to hear my Dad being a loving Dad and worrying about his daughter; he died a couple of months later. I still miss him.
I never really got into the three newer movies – although The Offspring prefer them to what they call ‘Mum’s Star Wars‘ – but oh those first three movies, how I loved them. Especially Star Wars itself – and it still delights me as much today at 45 as it did that night in Opotiki, in 1978 when I was 11.
Thank you George Lucas.