I still can’t look at Harrison Ford without feeling a pang of guilt for the time I kicked him down the toy aisle at Sears.
For me, the saddest thing about adulthood is the cache of disappointments that overcrowd your expectations. Then again, seeing Star Wars for the first time in 1977 at age 7 was the event against which all of my future expectations were measured.
It changed my entire childhood culture. Cowboy and Indians? Shoved aside by Rebels and Stormtroopers. Vaders, Tie Fighters and Light Sabers replaced Popeye in my schoolwork doodles. My friends’ impressions of Donald Duck evolved into imitations of Darth Vader’s metallic wheezing.
Star Wars also kicked off the birth of the collectible action figure. I had 11 of the original 12 Star Wars figures. I have to hand it to Kenner for knowing that we churchgoing tots considered 12 a holy number. 12 disciples, 12 incredibly collectible toys. As far as I was concerned, the devil rode Tie Fighters.
I begged, bargained and coaxed my family to buy me all 12 figures. My grandmother even gutted her change-purse to buy me Darth Vader. I think it would please Lord Vader to know that even as a plastic figure, he’d managed to take an old woman’s money.
However, my scheming and dealing only earned me 11 of the coveted 12. I was still shy the most important disciple of all—Han Solo.
It was near Christmastime, and we were at the lame Sears Roebuck, the tedious one that only put up toys at Christmas. While Mom shopped for her boring grown-up stuff (bras, humidifiers), I made a beeline for the toy aisle.
I found Han Solo hanging on a peg on an endcap. I would not wait for Christmas this time. I snatched Han and scanned the clothing turnstile for my mother.
“Mom, I want this.”
“No, I can’t afford it right now. Put in on your Christmas list,”
I begged, I pleaded, and I even stooped to reasoning. She resorted to her go-to threat: spanking me in the ladies room.
I stormed back to the toy aisle, clenching the package, crinkling the plastic blister surrounding Han. At the foot of the girl’s toy aisle, I threw Han down the aisle, ricocheting him off of a Baby Alive. I ran and kicked him back down the remainder of the aisle, where he spun on his back.
In childhood, toys tend to be casualties to circumstance. R2-D2’s silver head popped off. Kenobi lost his cape looked like a hedonistic swinger on his way to a key party. Jawas went down the drain during a bath. CP30’s golden skin flaked off. I swallowed Luke Skywalker’s gun, and didn’t tell anyone for fear of doctors.
The only remaining disciple is Chewbacca, who sits near my desk, and is preparing for Life Day on Kashyyyk as I write this. I may have kicked his best friend down a Sears aisle years ago, but he seems to have forgiven me. I feel a little bit like Judas Iscariot. Who knew that Chewbacca would be the last apostle to survive?
I never saw Luke’s gun again. For all I know, it’s metastasizing in my body as I type this.
At the very least, I can now safely say that I would never kick any Harrison Ford character down a Sears aisle, not even Rick Deckard, even though I’m still not sure if he’s a replicant.
The saddest thing about adulthood might be the cache of disappointments that overcrowd your expectations. But one of the best parts of adulthood is knowing that you can handle them.