May the Fourth

 

Disclaimer, before I even start:

I dread the first few weeks of May.  Every. Single. Year.  It’s one of those stretches of awful memory that many of us have at different times of the year, when it seems that regrets/trauma/cataclysm all pile on top of one another to render certain times insupportable and sometimes just plain unbearable.  To wit:

  • May 2–the anniversary of my stepson Michael’s death.
  • May 10–the late Mr. She’s birthday
  • May 13–my late mother-in-law’s birthday.  She who died from a medication error, having been given the set of pills which should have been allocated to the lady in the next bed of the nursing home where my mother-in-law spent her final days
  • May 17–my late father-in-law’s birthday.  A man who, by all accounts was one of the smartest and most generous men you’d ever know, but who, in my own experience, was an awful, nasty, abusive, destructive, drunk
  • Mother’s Day–a day in which my small family celebrates the Mums and Moms we have known, every single one of whom died in traumatic and ugly circumstances–from the medication error mentioned above (mother-in-law), or from a fall head-first down the stairs, and a traumatic brain injury (Mr. She’s first wife and the mother of his three children), or from lifelong undiagnosed mental difficulties and eventual fronto-temporal dementia (my own mother)
  • And a time of year when I began to inkle that a dear, if non-familial, friendship might be lost to me forever, and that I, who didn’t break it, couldn’t fix it.

And yet.  And yet…

I cannot ever forget the first time that Mr. She and I, and his three children–only one of whom is still alive–went to see the first Star Wars movie when it opened in May of 1977 (although not on the fourth).  From the moment of its fanfare (Dum-da-daa! Da-da-da-da-da-Dum-da-daa!) to the opening crawl, to the very end, it was magic!  It was thrilling.  It was lovely.  We’d never seen anything like it! (Never mind that, over 40 years later it’s showing its age, that I can now acknowledge that the acting was wooden, and that, in terms of the present, the special effects were pretty hokey.  For its time, it was epic.) It spawned a phrase for my stepdaughter, in which she began to refer (always in affection jest) to Harrison Ford as her “future husband.” And it gave a foundation to a lifetime of movie memories which she and I, the only survivors of the time, are still enjoying.

Here’s to family.  And friends.  And love. And memories.

May the force forever be with us all.

And here’s the technical drawing (an annual occurrence) that my granddaughter–eight years old at the time–sent me in 2016, when she announced that her Halloween costume (which I’m proud to make, every year) should be that of Darth Vader.  But, note, she later clarified, a “girl Darth Vader.”

And here’s the result. (Black and shiny, just as ordered.  Together with a substantial amount of light-reflective tape, insisted upon by a worried Granny):


I hope she passes along her love of the classics to her own children, a decade or two from now.

PS: BTW, and as it should be, she knows very well that Han. Shot. First.

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  1. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Mrs She, your family stories always leave me thinking of my own family — and especially of my grands.  Thank you.  

    • #1
  2. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Mrs She, your family stories always leave me thinking of my own family — and especially of my grands. Thank you.

    Thanks, Kent.  Family Matters.  I don’t know how else to say it.

    • #2
  3. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    Thanks for sharing your memories and your “little girl Vader”.

    I too remember very well going to see Star Wars in the 1970’s and how thrilling it was to be in a Galaxy far, far away.  I was a rabid science fiction fan at the time but most of the science fiction from the late 60’s, early 70’s was dystopian, e.g., Soylent Green, Planet of the Apes (although I loved the latter).  But Star Wars was more like Star Trek, “Cowboys in Space” where the good guys eventually win.  It was a throwback to the grand old days of Hollywood and it, along with Jaws a few years before, a return to the blockbuster, must see movie for all ages.

    I went to the 25th anniversary rerelease in 2002.  I was now on the West Coast instead of the East Coast.  Well past school instead of being in high school.  But it was still in the days when you had to show up early and stand in line to get a ticket and so we were there two hours before the first showing.  And as we stood in  a line winding around the back end of the theater, I said this is exactly how I spent the summer of 1977!

    But I remember not being struck by how much it had aged but rather how much more dialogue there was and time for character development compared to the current action movies where one so often gets right into one-liners and action in the opening frames.

    • #3
  4. Some Call Me ...Tim Coolidge
    Some Call Me ...Tim
    @SomeCallMeTim

    Wonderful post. It’s heartwarming and a reminder that life is a fantastic mix of sadness and happiness. 

    • #4
  5. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    The future Mrs. K and I went to the Star Wars opening at the Cambridge Street movie theater, the first in Boston with stadium seating and enhanced audio.  We stood in a line that wrapped around the building, a queue a few hundred yards long.  We made it and we were completely taken in by this movie.  It was an event. (I later watched the original Alien at that same theater, by myself – the future Mrs. K does not like horror.  I slept poorly for a week after.)  Those were great days despite stagflation, gas lines and Jimmie C.  It was the summer of our lives and the future seemed so bright.  Now we have those memories and others, not so sunny.  It may not be summer, but we now know how to appreciate what both has passed (even if it seems contrived and wooden) and what will come.  Enjoy both.

    • #5
  6. Eleanor Member
    Eleanor
    @Eleanor

    Thank you for sharing a life lived and still being lived well in spite of the ugh. 
    You give joy and encouragement. 
    And that is a lovely gift. 
    May the fourth be with you!

    • #6
  7. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    My first real date with the girl who would become Mrs.B was The Empire Strikes Back. As a movie, it’s not my favorite of the series, but it wasn’t about the movie anyway. Maybe my mind just wasn’t on it. We used various versions of “Star Wars” as computer passwords for years.  I recall one of my young sons walking through the house vocalizing “Dum-Dum-Dum, Dum-Da-Dum, Dum-Da-Dum.” And yes we are Trekkies too. One of our more memorable family outings was at a small Star Trek convention in Ohio. Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway) was the top-billed star, but Tim Russ (Tuvok) and John Billingsley (Dr. Phlox) were also there. We did not see much of Kate, but had a nice chat with Tim and spent quite an enjoyable time sitting down with the Billingsleys who were quite gracious with our children. Bill Mumy of Lost in Space was also present. He is quite a talented and interesting fellow.

    • #7
  8. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    I was there, too. The opening words in blue, hanging on the big screen just long enough to wipe away whatever we’d been thinking before . . . then the explosion of sound, the logo, the opening crash of trumpets and percussion! The way the instruments themselves seemed stunned by the brash chord, sought composure, and settled into the triumphal processional as the words unfurled. (Episode IV?) It took less than a minute to disconnect you from everything and immerse you completely in a new experience. And then the ship rumbled overhead in the long reveal, and we were off.

    Lucky us, who were there, and had no idea.

    As the years went by and the prequels and sequels diminished the effect, I found that I still had an emotional reaction to the period between the fading away of the letters  – long, long ago – and the end of the logo crash. That moment brought it all back. What followed never measured up. It got close, now and then. But Star Wars is something for which people are always making explanations that sound like excuses and justifications.

    Ranked:

    Ep IV

    Empire

    Rogue One

    Mandalorian

    ROTJ

    Ep 2

    Everything else: meh.

    • #8
  9. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    I was there, too. The opening words in blue, hanging on the big screen just long enough to wipe away whatever we’d been thinking before . . . then the explosion of sound, the logo, the opening crash of trumpets and percussion! The way the instruments themselves seemed stunned by the brash chord, sought composure, and settled into the triumphal processional as the words unfurled. (Episode IV?) It took less than a minute to disconnect you from everything and immerse you completely in a new experience. And then the ship rumbled overhead in the long reveal, and we were off.

    It was sitting on the floor of the den with my dad watching Flash Gordon serials on Saturday mornings. Times about twelve.

    I went back after a week and saw it again, just for the score.

    • #9
  10. MISTER BITCOIN Member
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    “I cannot ever forget the first time that Mr. She and I, and his three children”

    I had to re-read this sentence twice (a reflection of me not She)

     

    • #10
  11. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Thanks for the comments and the memories, all.  I don’t know if streamed movies from Netflix or Amazon will occupy the same pride of place twenty or thirty years from now for those who watched one as a family or on their first date.  I miss the real “big-screen” theaters.

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    (I later watched the original Alien at that same theater, by myself – the future Mrs. K does not like horror.  I slept poorly for a week after.) 

    Scariest movie I’d ever seen.  Mr. She and I and the kids saw that one too, when it first came out.  Mr. She later incorporated it into one of his classes that covered medieval themes in modern film–links between Alien and Beowulf, but with a female hero.

    We also saw Gremlins.  The kids absolutely loved it, and squealed with laughter and glee as ‘mom’ stuck the nasty little beast in the blender and turned it on.  Some of the parents were horrified, and marched out of the theater with their own young children, all of whom were begging to stay.  Hard to know which was more entertaining, the film, or the audience.  But it’s always served as a parable to me of what’s wrong with grown-ups who try to squelch all the mystery and imagination out of their kids’ lives by throwing out fairy stories and any childhood story that upsets their worldview.  Clearly, the children are far more able to distinguish fantasy and imagination from reality (and live in a world that contains elements of both) than are their parents.

    • #11
  12. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    She (View Comment):

    Scariest movie I’d ever seen.  Mr. She and I and the kids saw that one too, when it first came out.  Mr. She later incorporated it into one of his classes that covered medieval themes in modern film–links between Alien and Beowulf, but with a female hero.

     

    I never thought about it like that. It fits.

    And Aliens is about Grendel’s mom!

    • #12
  13. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    I remember the enormous pride and affiliation I felt when the Gremlin under the furniture threw an apple back, with the declaration that it was “TREIF!”

    I felt that the filmmakers had thrown a little Jewish-connection bone in. I was young and much more tribal then than I am now. It made me love the movie, however scary it was in other ways. 

    • #13
  14. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Percival (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Scariest movie I’d ever seen. Mr. She and I and the kids saw that one too, when it first came out. Mr. She later incorporated it into one of his classes that covered medieval themes in modern film–links between Alien and Beowulf, but with a female hero.

     

    I never thought about it like that. It fits.

    And Aliens is about Grendel’s mom!

    That’s right!

    • #14
  15. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Just thinking about the first time we all went to see Raiders of the Lost Ark.  The kids must have been 15, 13 and 11.  It was another unforgettable experience, and gave rise to the one line in a movie that, the older I get, I find myself quoting more and more:

    It's Not The Years, Honey. It's The Mileage | Indiana jones, Funny pictures  with captions, Funny pictures

    Truer words.  Never spoken.

    Great movie.  Incredible music.

    • #15
  16. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    She (View Comment):

    Thanks for the comments and the memories, all. I don’t know if streamed movies from Netflix or Amazon will occupy the same pride of place twenty or thirty years from now for those who watched one as a family or on their first date. I miss the real “big-screen” theaters.

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    (I later watched the original Alien at that same theater, by myself – the future Mrs. K does not like horror. I slept poorly for a week after.)

    Scariest movie I’d ever seen. Mr. She and I and the kids saw that one too, when it first came out. Mr. She later incorporated it into one of his classes that covered medieval themes in modern film–links between Alien and Beowulf, but with a female hero.

    We also saw Gremlins. The kids absolutely loved it, and squealed with laughter and glee as ‘mom’ stuck the nasty little beast in the blender and turned it on. Some of the parents were horrified, and marched out of the theater with their own young children, all of whom were begging to stay. Hard to know which was more entertaining, the film, or the audience. But it’s always served as a parable to me of what’s wrong with grown-ups who try to squelch all the mystery and imagination out of their kids’ lives by throwing out fairy stories and any childhood story that upsets their worldview. Clearly, the children are far more able to distinguish fantasy and imagination from reality (and live in a world that contains elements of both) than are their parents.

    The Bros Grimm would never be countinenced today.

     

    • #16
  17. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    She (View Comment):

    Just thinking about the first time we all went to see Raiders of the Lost Ark. The kids must have been 15, 13 and 11. It was another unforgettable experience, and gave rise to the one line in a movie that, the older I get, I find myself quoting more and more:

    It's Not The Years, Honey. It's The Mileage | Indiana jones, Funny pictureswith captions, Funny pictures

    Truer words. Never spoken.

    Great movie. Incredible music.

    John Williams.  What talent.  Our Bach.

    • #17
  18. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Just thinking about the first time we all went to see Raiders of the Lost Ark. The kids must have been 15, 13 and 11. It was another unforgettable experience, and gave rise to the one line in a movie that, the older I get, I find myself quoting more and more:

    It's Not The Years, Honey. It's The Mileage | Indiana jones, Funny pictureswith captions, Funny pictures

    Truer words. Never spoken.

    Great movie. Incredible music.

    John Williams. What talent. Our Bach.

    I love John Williams. But an awful lot of what he produced sounds like Gustav Holst (1874 -1931) in particular Mars:

     

    • #18