Since everyone seems to have Star Wars on the brain this week, let me regale you with the tale of a boy who experienced the initial mania as it happened.
To celebrate my “graduatation” from kindergarten, my parents bought me the first wave of Star Wars action figures. I don’t know whether they were a special Sears bundle deal or the result of an inside supplier at the local department store, and I certainly didn’t care at the time. I was too busy freaking out over possessing some of the most coveted playthings on the planet in all their crudely sculpted glory.
The next day was the final school day before summer vacation. I insisted on bringing my new plastic prizes to school with me. My parents were less keen about this plan, but my pleading and wheedling eventually wore their resistance down to “you’re going to regret this” punctuated by a weary shrug.
They were right, of course. During the frenetic scrum of final day activities, my light fingered classmates managed to relieve me of all but two of the figures. Han, Darth, Walrus Man, and C-3PO gone, along with all the rest of my plastic heroes, aliens, villains, and robots with the exception of Ben Kenobi and R2-D2.
It only got worse from there. The second half of the abbreviated was a open-house for parents, complete with a class performance of an acapella Carpenters’ tune. My mom showed up but left after the performance to run some errands. Meanwhile, the parents of my classmates decided to ignore final bell protocol and take their tots with them when they left. Eventually it was just me, crying my eyes out in an empty classroom while my harried teacher rubbed my face with a kleenex while repeating “Don’t cry. Who’s a handsome, brave boy?”
My parents being unreachable in those pre-cell phone times, I rode out the rest of the school day the couch opposite the principal’s office. There I sat for an hour, sniffling and stewing as I kept flicking Obi-Wan’s built-in lightsaber in and out of his arm.
When I got off the bus in front of my home, my mom was waiting for me. I told her what happened. She deflected her guilt by telling me I had it coming.
I learned a number of valuable lessons that day.
For the record, Ben Kenobi is still my favorite Star Wars character.