A long time ago, in a newsroom far, far away. . . .
Tim Whyte · April 20, 1997
It's official. I'm a Star Wars geek.
It snuck up on me, really. When I was a kid, I was a pretty big fan of the trilogy but never got into the Star Wars lifestyle. You know. Action figures. Toy space ships. Clubs whose members could name every obscure character in all three films, but were doomed not to have dates for the prom.
Then they re-released those damn movies this year. And I know they've got the next trilogy -- prequels to the first -- in the works. On a nostalgia kick, we got a baby sitter and went to all three, saw them as if for the first time. Except this time, I had a deeper appreciation for Princess Leia in that gold bikini.
Soon after, I saw the action figures at the store. On a whim, I bought Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker (in X-Wing Fighter Gear). My kid's name is Luc, and I thought I could have fun with it: "(Deep breathing, voice-over by James Earl Jones) Come with me to Gymboree, Luc, because I am your father."
Then, one day at Target, I was wandering through the toy department, not looking for anything in particular, and something caught my eye: the Deluxe Stormtrooper with the Crowd Control Jet Pack.
I couldn't resist. It was sooo cool. So I bought it. And the whole thing sort of mushroomed from there. I was well on my way to geekdom.
Soon I was hunting down the Star Wars action figure pages on the Internet. And taking little side trips to Toys R Us after lunch, on the way back to the office, just in case they received a shipment.
Gradually, I accumulated something that's beyond having a few figures. It's a collection. I had to build shelves in the bedroom for the 20-plus Star Wars toys, plus my Starting Lineup hockey figures (don't even get me started on Starting Lineup hockey. . . . )
I have three -- no, four -- versions of Luke Skywalker. I have C-3PO. I have R2-D2, the one where you push a button and it makes all sorts of beeps and whistles. My wife just shakes her head and says, "I'm not dusting that crap. You are."
So now I've got the easy-to-find stuff. (Aren't you SICK of seeing all those Lando Calrissians on the shelf?) I've progressed to an active search for missing toys, like Princess Leia in that flowing robe that makes her look, well, busty. I realize they -- the toys -- are just formed plastic, made by cheap foreign labor. It's an artificial hobby in an artificial market whose real purpose is to line the pockets of very rich, artificial people. But it has cast its spell on me.
And I'm looking for Jawas: those weird little robed creatures that like to steal droids on Luke's home planet of Tatooine. It's fun to say: Jawas.
Jawas. Jawa jawa jawa jawas.
I went to Target. Toys R Us. Kmart. That little toy store in Canyon Country.
"Yes, Mon, we have no Jawas. But would you like a rum and Coke, mon?"
I became despondent. I would bump into these weird Star Wars collector people at the stores, and they'd be sifting through the pathetic selection with disdain, looking for one missing figure or another to complete their collections. I'd clear my throat and say, "I'm looking for Jawas."
"Oh, I already have those," they say, looking at me as if I'm some sort of Jawa-less Dagobah swamp rat.
I slump away, feeling shame.
Then, one night this week, I mentioned to a fellow Star Wars geek -- er, aficionado -- that I had an extra R5-D4 droid if he wanted it.
"Nah. Got that one already. And I got Jawas today," he said proudly, in that code recognizable only by The Geeks.
"You got Jawas?"
"I got Jawas."
Mumble scuba mumble scuba. Jawas.
"Where they got Jawas?"
"At Wal-Mart. Jawas as far as the eye can see. They got a big shipment. Vast, rolling expanses of Jawas, and R2-D2s, and TIE Fighter Pilots. . . ."
"I'm going. I'm going now." And I hung up.
I started doing a happy dance.
"Come mistah tally man, tally me some Jawas. . . ."
I hate Wal-Mart. But if Wal-Mart was the place where I could find Jawas, then Wal-Mart it would be.
"'Friends' is about to start," Erin told me. "And you're leaving? Right now?"
"Yup. Right now." I popped a tape into the VCR to tape "Friends." "I must go. Wal-Mart has Jawas."
"They're toys. You are such a small, small little boy."
Jawas. Mumble scuba. Jawa jawas.
And I was gone. I hurried to the previously-dreaded Wal-Mart which, as I approached from McBean Parkway, suddenly bore a new charm reminiscent of Bespin, the city in the clouds.
I raced to the toy department. On the rack was a stunning assortment of . . . Lando Calrissians.
I was too late. Head down, in a deep funk, I began to leave. Surely, after this trauma, I'd need therapy.
Then I saw them. A light shone on them, in all their glory. Angels rejoiced from the heavens. My jaw dropped, like a child seeing his shiny new bike under the Christmas tree. There was a bin full of 'em . . . new stuff . . . Hoth Rebel Soldiers . . . that medical droid that fixed Luke's hand after Darth Vader cut it off . . . Obi-Wan . . . and a bunch of other stuff. Three people were picking it over, scavengers on a carcass.
I jumped in. I found one, then another, then another that I needed.
But still no Jawas. I STILL NEED JAWAS!
As consolation, though, I came away with a Tusken Raider, a Momar Nadon and Luke Skywalker in the Jedi cape (unfortunately, with the black vest, not the impossible-to-find brown vest).
While I was at it, I picked up a little present for Erin. She's not a Wal-Mart shopper, but I figured it couldn't hurt to grease the skids when I arrived home with my bag full of cra . . . er, action figures.
"You're a geek," Erin lamented when I got home with my loot. "I married a geek."
"Aaaarrrrrrffggggg," I said, Chewbacca-like, wondering if, instead of me, she'd rather kiss a Wookie.
Hmph. Star Wars Geek. And not terribly proud of it. I guess it could be worse. I could be a Trekkie.
Anyway. Thanks for listening. Please don't hold it against me. I'm going to try to lick my Star Wars habit. I realize I need help. Starting now, I'll lead a more normal life and get rid of my preoccupation with Darth Vader, Obi-Wan, Luke, Han and Leia.
Goodbye for now. And may the force be with you.
Tim Whyte is the magaging editor of
The Signal. His commentary appears on Sundays.
© 1997, THE SIGNAL -- ALL RIGHTS RESERVED