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12 February 2006

Revenge of the (really long short story) Sith

A teal-blue Chevrolet convertible lingered not-so-softly on the edge of Hicksville Station, top-down to the Long Island sky, Attack of the Clones soundtrack blasting, its license plate simply spelling: IM A JEDI. An unfamiliar, yet crazed, goateed and bespectacled redhead (Matt) at the wheel; perched in the passenger seat, my laid-back and ever athletic freshman hallmate, Jeff, clenched with excitement as he rose to push forward his seat and allow me entry to a universe which -- that evening -- would belong not to the thousands of fans across this mighty nation who would witness this collective life-affirmation -- but exist as ours exclusively.

Lost in the backseat as I had not been for nearly 3 years -- the circumstances and music, company and moment in my lifetime so extraordinarily disparate -- did we sail dizzily across traffic lights and towns of galaxies in what might as well have been a landspeeder with gusts unlike any desert breeze.

Our first destination, Jeff's home to collect his Qui-Gon lightsaber, a timestamp of 1999 ever present against my C-battery-less Vader plastic-sword, launched just before the Special Editions' release. Outside his gorgeous, sprawling suburban Kashyyyk, arrived Andy, a half-baked, goofy-grinned Phish-fan, donned in backwards hat and hoodie, were it somehow his upper-middle class stoner Jedi robe -- unafraid to approach any human being, regardless of their intimidation level.

We packed our four Cantina-like facades into Matt's vehicle -- top up -- cruising to "Sevs" for some pre-theatre goodies -- tall beer cans, Darth Vader capped slurpies, alcohol-induced energy drinks, sugar-oozed and salt-infaused snack items. Some for simply the car ride -- or short walk to the checkout line -- others for the 6 remainders of our party who would meet us at the cinematic palace.

Our eccentric quartet sped down Route 110, Farmingdale, to canvas the theatre before hitting another popular eatery, to ensure admission lines -- for ticketholders, mind you -- had not already enveloped the building entire. As we rode past a minute, perfectly manicured rectangular field, we witnessed small boys and grown men, mostly cloaked in browns and whites and blacks, attacking one another with engaged lightsabers in an all out battle for the sanctity of our childhood. We spent our time not stifling our laughter, but expressing the outright awe of this scene, so familiar at a midnight showing of the world's most popular space saga.

Parking was plentiful towards the back of the theatre -- where the line was already winding -- so we decided we had enough time to hit a fast food establishment not so unfamiliar to a young man of many short stories. We will not recall the coincidences and similarities between Wednesday, May 18th and these same desert highways of 3 years previous -- but instead note that this, somehow unto itself, spoke of a trilogy in such disconnect, that these roads and locales, stop lights and furniture stores, may as well have been a Tatooine of 28 years ago.

It was the Monarch of Meat, that creepy, giant-headed beast of recent commercial lore -- who had been revived from the 1970s, were he an unpopular Star Wars character himself -- where Jeff and I would require fried chicken of mass proportions. I had not consumed Burger King -- let alone any fast food -- since Madison, New Year's Jersey.

The line was moving slowly, with only one employee on this normally deadened Wednesday evening. A husband and wife studied a continuously growing, enormous pile of plastic wrapped toys on the far end of the counter, where orders usually await hungry customers. They had amassed five complete sets of the 31 Star Wars toys now offered as a promotion with the forthcoming final film. When asked if they were attending tonight's show, they replied that they had five children -- and the husband had a bad back. I can't imagine the cause.

The lone girl at the counter, obviously occupied delving out the store's entire collection of children's Kid's Meal accoutrements, was distracted enough for Andy to delicately peel the top-half of a gigantic Chewbacca decal on one of the BK's inside front glass doors. After running outside to dump his newly stolen Wookiee advertisement, he then proceeded to nab Chewie's lower half, as we ordered our erstwhile suppers. While we awaited our precious meal's arrival, Andy took it upon himself to tackle the Dark Lord of the Sith -- Vader, on the now only covered, other glass door -- and removed both parts in one fell swoop. He was like a stoned Han Solo, snickering not-to-himself throughout this process, as if this is what suburban teenagers do -- except we weren't teenagers, this was technically stealing, but it was the night of the Star Wars midnight premiere, and no one -- not even the BK employee herself (not that she would mind otherwise, spending her night grinding away for minimum wage at one of this country's new forms of self-imposed slavery) -- minded these self-gratfying acts of petty theft in the name of fandom.

We managed to convince this same employee to provide us with a bundle of Star Wars branded crowns -- the signature of the establishment and fondest of childhood fast food birthday party (and night before the day before finals / evening of the midnight buffet in college) memories -- requesting first 1500 crowns for all participants of tonight's showings, then donning said royal regalia as we squeezed into our now cluttered vehicle, overflowing with convenience store and fast food Americana, two lightsabers, and four unlikely geeks prepared to descend upon UA Farmingdale Stadium 10.

Our second approach to the theatre was enhanced by the ever classic class provided only by suburban men who so hopelessly wish they were black -- windows lowered, tunes blasting -- but this time, the Star Wars theme. The lightsaber battles had subsided in the 15 minutes since our previous arrival, however we received some raised swords and shouts of approval, as we pulled into the very same parking spot we had surveyed minutes earlier.

Separated by an empty parking spot, reclined in what appeared to be a long Oldsmobile-like vehicle, slinked three ecstatically herbalized youth -- one, a girl, who resembled a deceased Janis Joplin. As Andy and Matt positioned the newly acquired Chewbacca decals on the hood and windshield of our redheaded driver's convertible, we were invited to join the blazing children of America for a toke. Needless to say, only one member of our party could not refuse.

There are truly two ways to consume fast food in the suburbs that actually make the food somehow taste better -- sitting in a parked car, in the parking lot of the restaurant, whose drive-thru you just sped through -- or on the sidewalk, napkins spread out, sauces strewn on the asphalt or your lap. This is how scum cuisine is meant to be swallowed.

Jeff and I dined together, receiving compliments on our crowns, as Matt and Andy departed in a quest to sell Matt's Return of the Jedi poster, autographed by "the 8 people who actually matter," in addition to a rare Vader figurine (note: is it fair to refer to it as a figurine? This is, after all, the baddest motherfucker in the galaxy). Andy, master salesman that he is, and recently enhanced, had no trouble hitting on both underage girls ("hey, she's blonde, she's hot, and she's a Star Wars fan -- you tell me that's not the perfect woman!") and getting rid of Matt's items (for a cool Benjamin, might I add) in under 15 minutes.

Surprisingly, the lines moved swiftly -- 7 theatres showing the picture, ours called third. Matt handed me the tallest can of Budweiser I've ever seen (and never drank) to smuggle in my large, brown jacket pockets (a jacket that had to suffice in the absence of a Jedi robe) -- an alcoholic beverage guarded closely by my Jedi sword. After chucking our garbage on the side of the theatre -- to mingle with the other trash from Starbucks and Mickey Dee's -- we descended upon Theatre 1 at 9:45 PM.

The next 2 hours are not quite a blur, but extraordinarily uneventful, save for the presence of the lone female member of our party, previously described to me as bi-sexual and not interested. Somehow -- though carefully planned on my part -- I found myself seated between this young lady (who, when present, was gregarious and sexy in a way only pretty girls before an anticipated Star Wars film can come across -- when the always highest priority of getting laid has been shelved instead for a movie) and Matt's younger brother -- a master clarinet player and senior in high school, who proved himself a mature and worthwhile conversationalist, which brings hope still to the future of this country (that is, after 2008).

Lightsaber battles resumed, this time in their typical spot in front of the movie screen -- a 5 story digital monstrosity that -- from the fourth row -- towered over us as a looming Sith itself. The young lady and her male companion -- Jeff's colleague from his bank day-job -- disappeared for well more than an hour, perhaps to role-play scenes from The Empire Strikes Back, or to engage in the increasingly popular female restroom version of "Hide the Wookiee."

It should be noted in this cinemalogue that amongst all of the fans that evening -- in the dark confines of a theatre bursting with Jedi wannabes, one Admiral Akbar, and many a nerd -- were tons of tits. In fact, I have never seen so many hot Star Wars chicks throughout the course of my lifetime. Granted, many were surely dragged by boyfriends as compensation for all those chick flicks -- but still, some were together, or with a group of friends -- maybe as the thing to do -- yet I shall never displace my bellow as an incredibly stacked young woman defeated Darth Vader in a lightsaber battle, "HOTTEST JEDI EVER," and the return cry, "Hey, that's my girlfriend!" Girlfriend? You are not a Jedi yet.

Our collection of ten miscreants -- Jeff, Matt, Andy, Matt's brother, the chick, her "boyfriend," some dude from kung-fu class, another bank employee, likely one more friend from Jeff's childhood, and myself, all arrived unscathed -- devoured an entire row, in preparation for a blast of THX, an all-too-familiar opening text crawl, and 2 hours and 20 unforgettable minutes of Anakin Skywalker's rise to the Sith.

I am not sorry to say that my female seatmate and her man slumbered through most of the picture -- mostly because I can say that I sat next to a friendly, attractive girl during a midnight Star Wars premiere -- even if she was with a guy, though we may never know for sure.

The car ride home was ethereal, too. Chewbacca remained, resting comfortably throughout our absence -- though removed for visibility and safety's sake as we returned to Plainview. A cellphone call -- now 2:45 in the morning -- to a particular friend for his brief thoughts and the answer to Star Wars trivia from Jeff (Count Dooku's Sith name: Darth Tyranus)-- proved itself charming to all members of our party, still pumped and reeling from the final moments of the film.

Jeff and I crept through his mansioned doorway, nearly 3 o'clock by now, enjoying some much-needed, fridge-squeezed hydration. Greeted by his fetching dog, Midnight -- who limped lovingly at his master's return -- Jeff cradled his adoring pet in his arms, to his outside deck, for a short dance in the harvest moonlight. He guided me to his sister's room -- my abode for the short remainder of the eve -- as we spotted a trundle bed made up in his room. Perched on this cot lay an unmistakeable brown fur blanket, which I grabbed and placed instead on his sister's bed. We wished one another a pleasant sleep -- though knew it impossible with the less than 6 hours until our return to the train station, our brains still bursting from the greatest lightsaber duel of our existence -- as I wrapped myself up into a pleasant bundle of satisfied man and Wookiee.

1 comment:

  1. Wicked busy, but will comment on these stories soon...and continue with "The Wager," too!

    For those who've read "The Wager," it's not all the different...yet...but I know the 10 years since writing it will mold it differently...not at all sure where it will go...

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