1977: I went to see Star Wars at the Plaza theater the day after it opened. At that time it was just another sci-fi movie, but I was totally jazzed. The Star Wars tv commercials had had me hooked for a month. Then again, six years later the commercials for Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn also had me hooked. Whenever the Star Wars trailer would air I'd scootch right up to the tv screen despite my mothers protestations that if by some miracle I didn't go blind my eyes would most certainly at least become square in shape. I needed to be up close though, for the finale of the commercial when a Tusken Raider pops up suddenly, hooting directly at me and brandishing his gaderffi stick. It used to scare the holy living bejeezus out of me every time, and I loved it, giggling away like the goofy 6 year old I was, heart pounding from the scare as well as the anticipation of seeing Tatooine's indigenous Sand People on the big screen.
We weren't exactly flush with cash back then, and going to the movies was a luxury we could rarely afford. My mother recognized the joy the magic of the movies gave her burgeoning cinema junkie, but there was no way we would be allowed to waste perfectly good money indulging in overpriced treats from the Snack Stand, even my own money! Her solution was to pack us a lunch.
Because I was an incredibly cute blonde-haired blue-eyed 6 year old, it was my job to smuggle in the cans of RC Cola and paper lunch bags stuffed with homemade popcorn saturated in salted butter for me and my socially inept sibling. All of my clothes were oversized as they were hand-me-downs and my brother was overweight, so I concealed the verboten delicacies beneath them. The Plaza Theater was a wretched hive of scum and villainy. I had to be cautious. For added dramatis personae I slouched my shoulders, hunched over, and dragged my leg ever so slightly in an attempt to augment my ignoble appearance. The idea was that the Imperial Ticket-Takers would take one look at me and either take pity on me or be disgusted by my impecunious state and quickly usher me to my seat without delay. My destitution would be so apparent that if my deceit was by chance discovered they would show clemency and turn a blind eye to the forbidden snacks from the outside world. I remember the warmth of the popcorn against my stomach, contrasted by the coolness of the pop cans clamped under my armpits as we shuffled through the line of eager moviegoers like droids for sale being paraded out of a sandcrawler. I remember my heart racing like I was in Midnight Express and had heroin strapped to my midriff, however I played it cool, just like Han Solo would have, and entered unmolested.
As the theater darkened and the now familiar Star Wars theme began to blare, and the accompanying crawl rolled across the screen transporting me to "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." I produced and rationed out the contraband, smugly smiling at my ingenuity and cunning. I felt like I was imbued by some power that was surrounding me, penetrating me, binding the galaxy together. "Don't get cocky, kid" my brother sneered as he snatched his now slightly sweaty RC.
I wedged the greasy popcorn parcel between my knees, not taking my eyes from the screen, refusing to miss a single second, my lips silently reading along with the scrolling introduction. Part IV? What the fuck? Had I missed something? Twenty-two years later I'd get my answer: not a goddamned thing. As the first Destroyer loudly coasted into frame I vowed to not blink for the next 120 minutes.
I reached for the popcorn, already knowing that it would be over-salted, and suddenly felt like something was not quite right. It was if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. Weird...oh well. As my fingers touched the first piece of popcorn, the grease soaked bottom of the cheap paper bag ruptured, spilling every single last kernel onto the sticky cinema floor.