May the fourth be with you!
I decided for Star Wars Day I’d do another top 5, but one that’s much more personal and subjective. You know, because top 5 lists are usually so objective. So, this is a list of my top 5 favourite childhood memories related to Star Wars. Yay, anecdotes!
#5: Playing Shadows of the Empire for N64 at my cousin’s house.
When I was younger there was this magical place called Blockbuster where you could go and rent movies and video games. It was great! You kids don’t know what you’re missing. I never owned a video game system when I was a kid, but my cousins had an N64, among other systems and my cousin Nathan happened to be my best friend. I would go over to his house on the other side of the city at least once a month to hang out, sleep over and play video games. I loved hanging out at his place and I distinctly remember a few of the games we played, but for some reason taking turns as Dash Rendar running around shooting storm-troopers was one of the best experiences I ever had. The best thing about games back then was if some other dude saved his game after renting it, you’d get all their save files if you rented after them. Anyone who owned a 64 probably knows what I’m talking about, so some helpful bloke unlocked every level for us and we gleefully jumped around to whichever level we wanted. To this day, Shadows of the Empire is a classic and one of the most fun Star Wars games ever made.
#4: Digging for Star Wars action figures in the discount bin at Wal-Mart
After I became Star Wars-obsessed as a child, my favourite pastime was going to Wal-Mart or Zellers or whatever store happened to have a toy section and digging through the original Power of the Force line of action figures from 1995. My parents and friends would get me action figures and corresponding vehicles for Christmas/ Birthdays, but they’d usually get the big ones like Luke, Han, Darth Vader, etc. However, for some reason, I actually enjoyed discovering random guys like yak-face or prune-face or slug-face or whatever other face they had in those big metal bins at Wal-Mart where they’d dump the figures no one else wanted. Those were the figures I wanted. I still have my old collection in a bin somewhere in my basement and it contains more random background characters than anything else. I figure those are the guys that are gonna be worth money someday.
#3: Seeing the special editions in theatres
I had just seen the Star Wars trilogy for the first time about two years before the special editions were announced and when they were I was so excited! Not only did I get to see the movies I loved again in theatres, but it was really the first time I discovered I wasn’t alone in my love for the galaxy far, far away. The whole world caught Star Wars fever and I loved it! Star Wars merchandise lined the walls of every department store and it was all they talked about on every entertainment show. Now I’d get to see the movies again, but with new stuff added in! Hard-core fans from the 70’s and 80’s cried blasphemy, but as a 9-year-old I thought it was the best idea since pull-ups. I’d get to see all-new shit that wasn’t even there before! Zowie! Look, a robot that hits another robot on the head! Awesome! Our family was first in line to go see Episode IV on opening weekend and I still own my copy of the Special Editions on VHS.
#2: Becoming the “Cyberspace Kid” at school
I first saw the Star Wars films in the summer between grades 2 and 3 and when I came back to school everyone knew it. Star Wars was in all my journal entries and all my creative fiction. It was all I could talk about. I drove my classmates crazy with Star Wars and alienated myself even more from the rest of the school. I didn’t care though. Han, Luke, Leia, Chewie, R2 and 3PO were always there to keep me company. One day I wrote a Star Wars-themed story about a guy that travels through “cyberspace”. I meant “hyperspace” but I was too young and dumb to know the difference. I read the story to the class and from then on became known as the “Cyberspace Kid” to the rest of my class-mates. In retrospect, they were probably making fun of me, but I wore the title with pride!
#1: Watching the movies for the first time, duh!
Yeah, you knew this would be my #1, but isn’t this the #1 for everyone who first watched Star Wars as a kid? I think people who watch it as an adult can appreciate and enjoy Star Wars, but only a child can love it so much that their inner-school behavioural psychologist will request more counselling sessions. I first saw the movies at my uncle’s house while our family was house-sitting for him. He had a copy of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope on VHS and I saw it lying on his book shelf and asked my Dad about it. He said, “That’s Star Wars. It’s really good. Wanna watch it?” I said, “Yes.” Then I watched it four times in a row until I developed a bladder infection on the fourth viewing and had to go to the hospital. A week or so later, my Dad picked up the trilogy box set on VHS and I found I loved the other movies just as much as the first one. I remember how excited I was when I found out Han Solo was in all of them. After that, I guess the rest is, as they say, history, much like Star Wars, which technically takes place “a long time ago” even though it’s all futuristic. Was anyone else ever confused by that?