This shout out goes to My Side of the Laundry Room’s ever faithful commenter and my best friend CoachDaddy. Today is my brother from another mother’s 40th birthday. For over 24 years I’ve been honored to call him my friend and share a love of all things from the realms of dorkdom. He took my love of Donald Duck and added to it by teaching me about the late and great Carl Barks, he ran one of the best D&D games I ever played and allowed me to play a total Usagi Yojimbo knock off named Kogun, and introduced me tons and tons of comic books and creators
His wife and two awesome kids have been there for me and my family over the years and I owe them more “thank you’s” than any human has breath to utter. I have a metric ton of memories of all the highs and lows I’ve shared with him and his wife over 24 years, and their children (who are becoming wonderful young adults themselves) but one story will be with me forever.
May, 1999. It was a week before the release of ‘Star Wars: The Phantom Menace’ in theaters. There was a fervor griping the dork world as tightly as a Force Choke from Darth Vader himself. Over the past month we have been introduced to main players of what was sure to be a classic. Of course at the fore front of this cast was the new villain, Darth Maul. Clad all in black, face tattoos, and a double bladed lightsaber, Maul WAS our new Vader. This was a time of purity and a time when the only horrible thing Lucas did was made Greedo shoot first. Hell, even at face value Jar Jar was a character to get excited about.We were caught in the tractor beam of Episode One and had no idea we were going towards the docking bay of the Star Destroyer Disappointment.
Being so enthralled, we had the idea of buying our tickets early. Cause on opening night when the chaotic masses were clamoring for a ticket, we could stroll right by like an a-list celebrity and cast a judging glance at our lesser dork peers. So we found a theater a town over from us that could generate a ticket a week before hand. From there a plan was concocted. We would take off work the Friday before, and the Friday of the movies release. We took ticket orders from some of our friends who couldn’t get off work and the plan was in motion. We would show up at the theater first thing in the morning and wait until the box office opened. It was a solid plan and it had a aura of the old days when the first ‘Star Wars’ came out and you would see pictures of people waiting in line for it.
The day came, to go and buy the tickets. We struck out very early that morning. The last linger touches of winter hung on the spring air, making it chilly. It was me, my friend, and his pregnant wife, ready to storm the Empire of the cinemaplex. The day proved to be uneventful but was very fulfilling to spent time with my friends on the sidewalk of the little theater. After a while, the sun finally came out and the temperature rose quickly to Tatooine levels. My friends wife and I walked over to a nearby K-mart to get her a lawn chair to sit in (we were poorly prepared) and I secured myself a sweet Darth Maul tie-dyed t-shirt (which I never wore again after the first showing of the movie a week later, wish I had that shirt now though).
There we remained until the early afternoon, talking and relaxing in the beautiful spring day sun. When the ticket window opened, we were the first in line (of a line of two other people, who didn’t wait an 1/8 of the time we did). We bought tickets for the first showing at midnight and 2-3 other showings. We really put our money down on how awesome this movie was going to be. We hung out the rest of the day, and into the night back at their house. It was a day that can never be duplicated and I never want it to be. It’s from a time in our lives when we were adults but still allowed to act as children (we were all 23). A time before life got “heavy” and “out of control”. There’s a small part of me that misses being young again, but a larger part of myself is so very happy about the people we now are and the families we’ve created.
We all know how this story ends after watching this movie, I think EVERYONE lived it at the time. But this was definitely an experience where the journey was far more important than the destination.
Happy Birthday, Brother!!