Friday, May 20, 2005

May 25, 1983

I was 16 in 1983.

Yes, things were different. After 3 years of high school, the lot had changed. A World's Fair had come and gone, I'd gone in and out of at least 3 different crushes (unrequited, of course). What is it about teenage girls that turns teenage guys inside out?

I was still a fan - oh, my, I was still a fan. But my allegiance had been sorely tested the year before with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Warring franchises prey heavily on the mind of an adolescent boy. I no longer bought the action figures... (Ok, I got a Boba Fett because it looked cool. But that's all. Ok, and the Tauntaun). But you know, it's for collecting now - not playing. Playtime is over, time to grow up.

I was 16 in 1983.

I started this little journey when I was 10 - still a lot of playtime left. All the time in the world. No time to ponder philosophical questions, just watch the cool ships blast and the sabers clash... Lookit the aliens - a Rodian! An Ithorian! Ugnauts!! Cool.

But a new age brings a new perspective. The third Star Wars film was coming out, and it's time to bring the trilogy to a close. Questions remain unanswered - is Vader Luke's father? Can they save Han Solo? And who is "the Other"? Time came to see the film, and time came to find a new companion to accompany me. Well, Tim and Jeff had both wandered off from being close friends, and the other guys around me were generally more interested in sports or other activities.

Dare I...?

I was 16 in 1983.

Girls were put on Earth to drive boys crazy. That is as true a statement today as it was 10,000 years ago. And it's just as true at 16 as it is at 38, or 78, or 108... Who knows what goes in those heads of theirs? Those heads with the hair, gently falling over their eyes...and the smile that when it j-u-u-s-t barely begins makes your heart stop.

Yeah, those girls. Sometimes it seems they have no idea the power they have over us guys. And sometimes they know exactly what they're doing.

And you wonder why guys drive fast cars? To get away...far away...

But anyhow, some of you may remember my friend Beth from high school. Beth was tall, she was smart, she was funny, she was a little dangerous... Well, she still is, actually, since we keep in touch. She was my "date" to the last night of my 20-Year Reunion last August, and - more importantly - she was a Star Wars fan.

A match made in heaven.

But I'd never gone to a movie with a girl before - was this a "date"? Should I, like, bring her flowers or something - or is maybe holding the door open for her enough? We hadn't gone out, but she was very special to me, actually and I didn't want to blow it. Do I pretend she's just another guy? Ugh, such questions, such decisions.

My mom picked up the tickets for us earlier that day on May 25, 1983. She met me at the school, and Beth and I drove on to the theatre. I remember being surprised it wasn't very crowded, but being it was an early show it made at least some sense.

Ok, muster up your midichlorians, Barry. Time to go.

I was 16 in 1983.

We sat enraptured through the film, we smirked at the little fuzzy bears, we gasped at the news who the "Other" really was, and finally we both cheered when Vader picked up the wheezing emperor and tossed him down the shaft. It was electrifying.

After it was over, we drove through McDonalds for some dinner and flirted with the idea of telling the drive-through worker that the "Other" was actually Princess Leia. But thought better of it - why spoil for the hapless employees?

I took her home, and my day and evening went on from there. Did I give her a hug goodnight? I don't recall, but probably not. Did I give her a nice goodnight kiss? Nope. Did I say, "See ya tomorrow" and drive off? Probably.



I was 16 in 1983.

Some Jedis find that their circle is complete by facing their evil father. This young jedi have trouble figuring out girls... I think the other ones have it easier. At least they have the Force as their guide. All I had was my parents' station wagon, a bucket of popcorn and a movie.

From the innocence of a 10-yr-old, to finding out how different things can be when a 13-yr-old, to finally the realization of the hazards of growing up as a 16-yr-old. The secret to life is facing your fears, taking responsibility for your actions and actually going after your dreams. Luke did it - I still had a lot to learn.

Postscript: Sometime in the next year or so - I don't recall the exact occasion but it may have actually been our graduation - I gave Beth my dog-eared copy of the Star Wars novelization. I inscribed it, too, as a testement and thank you for our friendship over the past several years. What had been one of my prized possessions soon became, as she told me recently, one of hers to this day. Sometimes it's the simplest things that make the greatest impressions.

And sometimes things like that can cement a friendship that lasts until 20-year reunions and beyond.

And sometimes... sometimes.. I get things right.

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