A long time ago, in a movie theater just down the street, a young boy’s life was forever changed …
OK, it was only changed for about 15 years or so. Then it was changed again for the worse. Now he’s kind of hoping it will be changed back again, but he’s really trying hard not to get his hopes up too high.
But we’ll get to all of that later, because in true Star Wars form, things don’t always go in chronological order.
In the summer of 1977, when I was just four years old, the first Star Wars movie was released. I remember it vividly, mostly because I had to go to the bathroom the entire time. See, my mom sent me to see the first film along with my brothers at the old Mayflower Theater in Troy.
Before we went to see the movies, my brothers warned me that not only were the bathrooms in the old theater rat-infested, but they also were haunted. These nice guys were also the same ones who convinced me I was adopted when I was right around the same age.
Not that it ended up mattering in the long run, however, because once the movie started, I was transfixed at the magic taking place before my very eyes — and probably would have rather had an accident right there in my seat than miss one second of the action anyway.
I would spend much of the next 20-plus years obsessed with all things Star Wars. My childhood friend Chad Imbrogno and I collected every Star Wars toy, comic book and video game on which we could get our grubby little hands (actually, in fairness, I shouldn’t speak for the general state of cleanliness of his hands — but I can assure you, mine were usually pretty grubby).
We would spend long hours after school creating fanciful adventures for our Star Wars action figures. When we heard sequels to the original movie were coming out, we would wile away our days speculating what the newest installment would include.
When the original trilogy ended in 1983, we were satisfied. Sure, we weren’t particularly big fans of the Ewoks, but everything seemed to wrap up nicely with a big, red bow atop of it. We were ready to move with our lives. We would both go our separate ways — and my mother, much like every other mother of every Star Wars fan I’ve ever talked to — would end up throwing away all of my Star Wars toys, which if I still had them now, would be worth approximately $8 billion.
I truly thought that was the end of it — and I would have my happy memories of the first three movies to carry with me for the rest of my life.
When I heard in 1999 they were going to do it all over again, I could scarcely contain my excitement. After 16 years of waiting, my childhood was about to be renewed. All of the magic was coming back into my life. Although the birth of my first childhood was still a few years away, I figured we would have this to share for all the days of our lives.
A funny thing happened on the way to cinematic immortality, however. The first three movies — chronologically they were the first three, but they were actually released as the second trilogy — were awful. Mind-numbingly bad. The first movie (or fourth movie, depending on how you want to count these things) remains one of the worse movies I’ve ever seen.
It was as if they took a piece of my childhood, set it on fire, then used shovels full of steaming manure to put out the conflagration. They were just that bad.
Eventually, however, I got over it. I moved on. They were, after all, just movies. Sure, they wrecked an important part of my childhood, but I had moved on.
Just when I figured I was over it all, however, I learned they were coming out with three more Star Wars movies, the first of which was released today.
And so here I am again — nearly four decades since this journey began — trying to figure out how I feel about all of this. I want the next three movies to be great. I really do. But I’m trying hard not to get my hopes up, lest they be destroyed once again.
I’ll go see the new Star Wars movie, but my only expectation is this — please don’t stink. My innocence depends upon it.
Troy’s very own David Fong appears on Thursdays in the Troy Daily News. Contact him at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong