Me, My Dad and Star Wars
To one father and son, it’s more than just a franchise
by Nick Norris
Today, Star Wars is everywhere. You can’t escape it, whether you love it or hate it. You’ll see it in theaters, on television, on your kid’s toothbrush, heck, even on bags of oranges. Those droids and ridiculous characters are determined to find their way into your dreams.
To some, this can be annoying. They might see Star Wars as nothing more than a multi-billion-dollar franchise that just makes the rich richer. And yeah, that’s definitely true. But it’s not just that.
Do you think the average 7-year-old child watches these movies and thinks, ‘Wow. I bet Disney makes a killing off this stuff.’ No, that kid sees the courageous Luke Skywalker risk everything to help his father redeem himself and the strong Princess Leia throw away the comfortable life of royalty to fight for something she believes in.
To kids, Star Wars is so much more.
I remember the first time I really noticed Star Wars. It happened when I was in the first grade. I was sitting in class, and a girl asked me if I was going to see Revenge of the Sith in theaters. Not wanting to look dumb, I said yes, even though I really didn’t know what she was talking about.
I was generally aware that some movies called Star Wars existed, and I probably had been gifted a stuffed Yoda or something at some point prior, but I was too busy watching Woody Allen voice a poorly animated insect in 1998’s Antz for the hundredth time to give the space saga any time of day.
However, the next day was a rainy Saturday, and I was confined indoors. Typically, I would have been out and about, racing the neighborhood kids on my bike. So, being stuck inside made for a boring afternoon. That all changed when my classmate’s question popped back up in my mind.
My father had a box of Star Wars movies he kept tucked away under his bed. I knew they had never been opened, as they were still wrapped in plastic, but I thought I’d ask him about them anyway.
Apparently, my dad had been sitting on that original trilogy box set since 1995, two years before I was born. He had never opened it, no matter how often my mom asked to watch them.
“I’m saving them for a rainy day,” he would tell her.
Little did I know, that rainy day would be today. He ripped the plastic right off those VHS tapes and called mom to the bedroom.
“I’ve been trying to get you to let me open these movies for years,” my mother complained.
“I told you,” Dad said, smiling, “I’ve been waiting on a rainy day.”
That afternoon, we all sat on the edge of the bed and binged the entire original trilogy. I had never seen anything like it. Watching those films was like discovering an entire new universe. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa. You never forget the first time you meet those characters. And who could forget the fearsome Darth Vader? I was in awe.
Watching the menacing Sith lord pace slowly down the Tantive IV's corridor to dispose of rebel scum left me speechless. I was terrified and captivated at the same time.
And I feeling my heart ripped out of my chest when Leia’s confesses her feelings for Han mere seconds before Lando Calrissian had the infamous smuggler frozen in carbonite.
"I love you."
As those iconic lines were uttered, I remember hearing my parents quietly giggle.
“Why are you laughing?” I remember saying, visibly horrified at what had just occurred on the boxy television screen. Of course, they knew Han would be rescued at the beginning of the next installment, but I didn’t.
“I remember thinking this was the saddest thing I had ever seen when I first saw it in theaters as a kid,” my dad said. “Now, it’s just kind of silly. ‘I love you.’ ‘I know.’”
My parents may have found some humor in the bleak moment, but I didn’t. I was devastated at the time. Luckily, Han was freed like thirty minutes later, so I recovered.
After the movies concluded, my dad and I shared a new interest. Every car ride, we would ask each other Star Wars trivia. Every evening, we would have lightsaber duels and smash my action figures together. He even uncovered dozens of the old figures he had as a kid and passed them down to me.
We caught up on the prequels, and even watched Revenge of the Sith together in theaters.
Today, those old action figures stand proudly on a shelf in my office, and that same VHS box rests next to my TV. I’ve even held onto that VCR after all these years, just so I can one day share the same experience with my future children.
To some, Star Wars is just a franchise. But to me and many others around the world, it holds something dear.
Today is my dad’s birthday, and tomorrow we'll travel to the nearest theater to watch The Rise of Skywalker on opening night.
The tradition lives on.
Happy birthday, Dad. I hope they don’t kill off any more of your favorite characters, as has happened on a few previous birthdays.