One morning last week I rolled out of bed and stumbled sleepy-eyed towards the coffee pot. As soon as I opened my bedroom door, I heard the unmistakable sound of “The Imperial March” thundering through the walls of my son’s room, filling the back half of our home with its ominous refrain.
Ben has been warned many times not to blast music through the house before 7 a.m. (OK, it was probably more like 9 a.m.), but it’s hard to be too mad when your child’s mild misbehavior affords you the tremendous pleasure of marching down the hall on your way to deliver a parental scolding with “Darth Vader’s Theme” as your soundtrack.
I pushed open my son’s door (after pausing briefly to enjoy a few noisy, mechanical breaths, obviously) to find him sitting beside a shallow cardboard box, which he’d covered in plain white paper decorated in Sharpie drawings depicting various essential spaceship components and the carefully printed label, “Muleneum Falken.”
In recent months my son has become completely obsessed with anything and everything Star Wars — an occurrence I’ve been expecting for quite some time. I still remember the earnest look in his dad’s eyes the day we first moved in together and he asked me if I thought his light saber and collectible action figures would complement the living room décor. LOL. That’s cute.
I have been ruining his life ever since.
“Star Wars” was practically a bible for kids growing up in the ‘80s and it’s a lot of fun seeing yet another generation carry the torch of the spirit of adventure and using the entertaining action movie as a catalyst for contemplating that great archetypal battle between light and dark.
Quite a few of my peers have already been enjoying the experience of watching their own children fall in love with the story that captured our imaginations so many years ago. Scott and I have heard so many cool stories about friends’ kids’ Star Wars obsessions and couldn’t wait for the fever to catch on at our own house.
We tried to introduce the original trilogy when our kids were a little younger but neither found it particularly interesting, and at the time Ben lacked the maturity to really follow the storyline. This time around it was a completely different experience.
It was so much fun for me and Scott watching that unmistakable spark of wonder and enchantment in our son’s eyes as he took in all the characters and scenery, somehow no less fresh and exciting to a modern child than it was to us more than three decades ago.
The best part was watching the tears roll down his face when Darth Vader gave up his life to save his son. It was a very emotional moment for Ben and he squeezed my hand and quietly whispered in awe, “Oh my god. He still has good inside him.”
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything influence his world view so abruptly, and in the weeks since we first binge-watched the original trilogy together he has YouTubed and Googled everything there is to know about Star Wars and approached his dad and others with an endless stream of Star-Wars-related questions, some practical and others deeply philosophical.
My biggest chuckle came from watching him ask our awesome kung fu instructor, Alan Brown, if he knew how to use The Force. I suspect Alan was being modest when he told him he’s still working on it, but Ben gazed up at him with complete earnestness and asked, “Will you teach me?”
As far as my son is concerned Alan is basically his Jedi master now, and I can’t think of anybody more fit for the task. I have witnessed Alan using The Force on numerous occasions when he thought no one was looking, and with any luck my son should be well prepared to save the galaxy should we ever fall into the hands of an oppressive evil empire.
Ben is certainly getting lots of Jedi practice at home, usually insisting on musical accompaniment. On this particular “Imperial March” morning, he was apparently playing the role of Han Solo, with his homemade (paper towel roll) blaster strapped to his side and his hands struggling to keep control of his ship as he expertly dodged enemy fire.
The boy managed to set up a pretty cool little scene, but my favorite part was his clever use of co-stars. In the “Muleneum Falken” box beside him was his best pal, Bruce Lee, our fluffy and extremely docile young cat, obviously playing the role of Chewbacca. Bruce Lee made an excellent Wookie sidekick, occasionally emitting strange noises as he faithfully kept his place beside his captain, impervious to the makeshift cardboard utility belt thrown across his shoulders.
Just behind them, in another shallow cardboard fighter plane, sat Whisper, our much, much less friendly older kitty, glaring dismissively at the light saber positioned near her front paw. With her dark-colored fur and disagreeable temperament, Whisper played an excellent Darth Vader, one of psychology’s favorite examples of untreated borderline personality disorder.
I thought Ben’s use of cardboard boxes as props was a pretty ingenious idea for convincing our cats to cooperate in his adventure games. All he had to do was position the boxes on the floor and wait for the cats to jump in and chill. Because cats. Glorious and hilarious cats.
I can’t think of anything nerdier than a couple of bored cats cosplaying Star Wars characters, and it’s really a shame I didn’t send the whole troupe to Mobicon a couple weeks ago. Oh well, there’s always next year.
For now we’re too busy counting down the days until Episode VII. One-hundred-eighty-nine days until the magic returns! Until then, as always, may The Force be with you.