When a little movie named Star Wars first hit theaters, I was ten years old. I didn't go see it. Not sure why, exactly. Perhaps I was too busy jumping cinder blocks on my BMX bike or earning the wrath of my Termite League baseball coach with my inability to catch fly balls. whatever I was doing, I missed Geroge Lucas' follow up to American Graffiti - though I certainly heard about it on the school bus. Jawas, Sand People, Jedi Knights - it was more than enough to enflame the brain of a far-sighted nerd already versed in Heinlein and Asimov. So, I did what any advanced reader would do. I bought the book. Suddenly I was aboard the Millenium Falcon, bracing for hyperspeed as a squadron of Imperial Tie Fighters closed in from behind. Between my engorged imagination, ubiquitous movie clips on television and Lucas' mass marketing tidal wave, I'd seen every frame of 'A New Hope' in my head - months before actually catching it in its theatrical re-release.
To bide my time between initial discovery and cinematic witness, I embraced this cultural touchstone of my generation through a variety of rituals: I made highly annoying R2-D2 noises. I collected Ralph McQuarrie sketches. I dropped words like parsec, Wookie and 'wretched hives of scum and villiany'. I even saved up for a few action figures - a purchase plan that incited a riot among the more shell-shocked veterans of my little green army man collection. Through it all, my family bore the brunt of my new obsession - including my church-going mother who didn't like this mumbo-jumbo about 'The Force' as well as my older brother who just wanted me to shut the hell up.
The only time I ran out of words was when trying to explain why I loved this saga so. Looking back now, I think I know. It wasn't the special effects. It wasn't the sweeping score. It wasn't even Han Solo's intergalactic street cred. It was Luke Skywalker's quest to learn about his father. Despite my own loving Step-Dad, I harbored the very same yearning as our young Jedi in training. When Luke stops to bathe in the setting twin sunlight of Tatooine, the 'little sci-fi movie that could' spoke to me in way that I wouldn't fully comprehend until I watched it with my own kids. Too bad they were more interested in Harry Potter at the time...
Six years later, I finally met him. Turns out he wasn't a fallen Sith Lord bent on crushing the rebellion after all, but he was a grizzled Jedi of sorts - one who looked, spoke and moved an awful lot like me. Together we'll never rule the galaxy as one - but we do have a large time blastin' womprats in Beggar's Canyon. I guess the Force was with me, after all.