My son Billy is a bit of a "Star Wars" fan. Actually, he's a "Star Wars" fanatic. Indeed, the Force is strong with this one.
We have all things "Star Wars" in our house. Of course, we have the movies on DVD -- as well as the original trilogy on VHS. (It's a special edition box set; that's a collector's item, right?)
We have "Star Wars" toys and clothes. Billy even has "Star Wars" bedding, of which I have to admit, I'm a little jealous. My wife says it doesn't come for our size bed. I'm not sure I believe her; I'm still searching my feelings to see if it's true.
Last month, to celebrate his 11th birthday, we went see "The Phantom Menace" in 3-D. Seeing Jar Jar Binks in 3-D didn't make me like that particular installment of the "Star Wars" saga any better, but it was a lot of fun watching Billy get his first opportunity to see a "Star Wars" movie in the theater. It's a little different experience than VHS, that's for sure.
One day recently Billy explained that he's coming up with sith names for everybody, so I guess we're all set in case we turn to the Dark Side of the Force. My wife is Darth Nagger; I'm Darth Editor. His younger sister is Darth Over Reactor, which actually sounds pretty cool.
As he was assigning us these names, my wife and I looked at each other and, simultaneously, gave him his sith name -- Darth Dork. It has a nice ring to it.
Billy has a complete library of "Star Wars" books. He's memorized entire "Star Wars" encyclopedias. He has trouble with his multiplication tables, but he can tell you off the top of his head the engine specifications for Slave 1 (that's Boba Fett's ship, if you're wondering).
I'm not sure if we have a "Star Wars" Slave 1 Lego model. But we do have many other "Star Wars" Lego sets, including a Lego Death Star. No one is allowed to play with the Death Star; we're just supposed to look at it and admire the ultimate power in the universe.
And we have AT-ATs as well as AT-STs. Don't know the difference between an AT-AT and an AT-ST? Neither do I, but if you get them confused, 11-year-old boys will make fun of you and you'll receive a you-should-know-this-by-now lecture -- kind of like the one Billy gets when he's not getting his math facts. (I'd like Billy to do better with his math facts. He says he'll try, to which I reply, "Do or do not, there is no try.")
I suppose he comes by his fandom naturally. Certainly, I spent many a night when I was his age, lying in bed, trying to turn off the lights or retrieve a book using the Force. It never worked for me.
And I suppose we've enabled him. We did buy many of those books and Legos, after all. And when I call the house to make sure the kids are home from school, I use my best Darth Vader voice to say "Kids, I am your father."
We even decided that "The Empire Strikes Back" would make a perfect opera. Think Wagner, and picture the closing act, right after Vader cuts off Luke's hand. Vader would sing the bass part -- "Luke, I am your father" -- while Luke would chime in with his tenor "Nooooo!"
And I suppose my attempts to use Jedi powers have never really left me. These days, instead of trying to move things with the Force, I'm more inclined to attempt Jedi mind tricks -- "Billy, those are not the pants you're wearing to school." Sometimes, it even works.
We're not really sure if Billy's "Star Wars" obsession will stick with him. Right now, his biggest wish is to be able to join the 501st Legion when he turns 18. That's Vader's legion. It's comprised of fans and requires a highly detailed, authentic Imperial or Clone costume to join. I would think that if he joins the 501st, he can probably put off his first date until he's 35. Right now, he's still a little short for a Storm Trooper, but who knows? Always in motion is the future.
While I never got into Episodes I-III -- too much CGI and Jar Jar Binks for me -- or the Clone Wars cartoon series, I have certainly watched the original "Star Wars" trilogy more than a few times. As you might be able to guess, I can recite much of it line for line. So some might say Billy is just following in his foolish father's footsteps.
But who's the bigger fool -- the fool, or the fool who follows?
Clarion editor Will Morrow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.