Star Wars + Bionicle + Dating
Before getting on to business, I invite you to bask in the glow of this recent celebrity endorsement that made my day:
The next day, Shelly and Sheldon were gone and I feared that my friend had finally snapped and murdered them. But they returned a couple days later and all appear to be getting along swimmingly once more.
This week, on the 25th, Star Wars officially had its fortieth birthday, which is more significant than its thirty-ninth or forty-first birthdays because humans worship multiples of five and ten. I've been acquainted with it for less than half that time, when Lego released its first Star Wars sets from the original trilogy prior to the release of "The Phantom Menace" and I saw them in the catalogs and magazines I was subscribed to. This was the first non-original franchise translated into Legos, and I thought at first that Star Wars was in fact a Lego movie. This was where I got my first gleanings of information about it. Hmmm, I thought after reading about the "Rebel Blockade Runner" set, it sure sounds like the Empire are the bad guys, but I know from church (specifically the song "Book of Mormon Stories") that "rebellious", of which "Rebels" is obviously a root, is a bad thing too... so are they both bad guys? I'm confused. And while looking at the "Millennium Falcon" set: Hey, this furry guy Chewbacca has the same name as cousin Emily's cat. What a coincidence.
It must have been around this same time that my parents watched "A New Hope". This was a long time ago, so they went to this place called a "video rental store" and rented it on this thing called "VHS". From that occasion I only remember Artoo and Threepio arguing, the cantina aliens, Jabba the Hutt (it was the Special Edition and my parents were like "I didn't know he had a tail"), and being unable to tell Han and Luke apart. My memory was astute enough that when I saw an action figure of Tey How from "The Phantom Menace", I knew she hadn't been in the cantina and I was like "That guy wasn't in Star Wars" and my mom was like "Yes he was" because they went to see it but didn't let me because they thought it might be too scary. And she indicated one of the Jedi on a lunch box and was like, "That one dies at the end" and I was like Dang it, I want the other one to die instead because he doesn't look as cool. Somewhere along the way I got a Jar Jar Binks action figure and an R2-D2 art set and several pairs of Darth Maul underwear. My sister got Queen Amidala underwear and I wanted some too, but no.
The next year I actually watched "The Phantom Menace" at the neighbors' house, and at one point they let us borrow it (again on this "VHS" thing) and as implausible as it seems now my mom let me watch it thrice in one day. She explained how this was the first one and they were being made out of order, but I didn't get it. I thought it was a remake and called it "the new version of Episode I". Did I understand what was going on in the movie? No. Was Jar Jar Binks a comic genius whose every line I adored? Yes. Was Natalie Portman the most beautiful creature in the universe? Duh. And lightsabers were the coolest things ever. I gave up on having any sci-fi daydreams without lightsabers (or "space swords") because they just weren't as cool and that's all there was to it. And the opening theme music, that was epic beyond belief. I don't remember when or how fast it took place but by third grade I was kind of obsessed. My friend Trenton and I sat together on the bus and parted ways at school with "May the Force be with you." When he moved away, his cousin became my new Star Wars buddy and we validated each other in our geekiness.
In fifth grade, my obsession reached its peak as I awaited the release of Episode III, a day that seemed as mysterious and far off as the Second Coming. I talked about it all the time, wrote Star Wars quotes all over my homemade paper bag textbook covers, and through the school book order subscribed to the monthly "Star Wars Adventures" magazine/book club and started trying to collect all the Star Wars books that existed, which I soon realized was impossible which is just as well now that they're all non-canon. My obsession was one of the contributing factors to me being a social pariah. My classmates thought that Star Wars was for little kids, and all the cool people were into "Lord of the Rings" instead. I was baffled. How could they not see that Star Wars was awesome? Granted, looking back I see that I viewed the prequels through the same rose-colored glasses that old people reserve for the original trilogy. As embarrassing as this is to admit, I was so naive that I thought "Attack of the Clones" had romantic dialogue. And now I can't even watch it without skipping the fireplace scene.
But the next year when "Revenge of the Sith" finally came out, everyone was suddenly into Star Wars and acting like they had been all along, which continued to this day. Ugh. Anyway, my dad took me to see it on my twelfth birthday, and it was the first Star Wars movie I ever saw in the theater and I assumed it would be the last. I didn't know that at age eighteen I would take a lesbian friend to see "The Phantom Menace" in 3D on what was then the closest thing I had been on to a date, or that at age twenty-two I would win free tickets to "The Force Awakens" from Kool 103.9 and bring another friend to that as payback for taking me to "Tomorrowland" and "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation". Why was I so obsessed with Star Wars in my youth, and why does it still hold such a place in my heart even though I now acknowledge its flaws? Quite simply, I think, because a galaxy far, far away so often feels more like home than Earth, and aliens so often feel more relatable than my own species. The most popular online community for autistic and Aspie people is called "Wrong Planet", and I think that really says it all.
As I've discussed before, another awesome franchise that's woefully underappreciated is the original incarnation of Bionicle. This one is original from Lego but has a deep and complex storyline that goes far beyond selling toys - in fact, its complexity got out of hand and that was one of the main reasons for discontinuing it. I also became obsessed with it for a time and discovered a fan forum called "BZPower", where many of the (mostly preteen) members made comics about sprite versions of themselves. I didn't really understand but I copy-pasted hundreds of them into a Word document to preserve them forever. Most of them didn't deserve to be preserved. Most of them relied on inside jokes and random weirdness in lieu of actual humor. And that works great for "Homestar Runner", which somehow translates that kind of stuff into actual humor, but most of these kids hadn't developed that skill. Ah well. I don't begrudge them for having fun and and I was a terrible writer at that age too. I hope they've gone on to accomplish great things.
But anyway, some of them were surprisingly good and I picked out a couple that I always intended to share at some point, and I decided to do it today because I couldn't think of much to write about and only anticipated having one paragraph about Star Wars.
I don't know why I think that punchline is so brilliant, but I do.
This week, Mackenzie and co-worker "Jaycee" both tried to persuade me to break my seventeen-month and counting moratorium on dating. I can't win an argument with Mackenzie and Jaycee didn't know all the backstory of why I have almost PTSD about it and I didn't have time to explain and didn't feel like arguing with her either, so I gave it some consideration. Jaycee figured out that I liked this other co-worker just because I mentioned being shy and hiding behind a clipboard when she walked by, and she was like "You should ask her out; you can double with me and my boyfriend." And that really seemed like a non sequitir to me, not to mention eerily similar to how I was tricked into dabbling in this awful stuff in the first place.
"I barely know her," I said.
"That's what dating is for!" she said. "To get to know people!"
That's what I used to think, I thought, but most girls in Utah act like one date is a ------- proposal.
I had no intention of doing it, but then I told Mackenzie about this and she was like, "Grow up. Try. Feel things. Get hurt. Cry. Repeat." And I think that sounds like a really crappy life, but I can't win an argument with her. And this person is pretty dang amazing.
"So, um," I told Jaycee, "I may be kind of thinking about leaning toward the possibility of reconsidering your offer."
"Yeah, anytime, my boyfriend and I are here all summer," she said.
"Let's just make a few adjustments," I said. "I would be much more comfortable if we call it 'hanging out' instead."
"Hanging out is lame," she said. "You don't get to know people the same. Dating should be about getting to know people. I mean, I'm dating for marriage right now, but that's because I've already gotten to know a lot of people."
I didn't say this because I try not to be super argumentative, but I thought, Getting to know "people"? Then shouldn't I go on dates with guys too? Are they not worth getting to know? Actually, I got to know a couple guys pretty well by hanging out. We watched "Crocodile Dundee" and some Popeye cartoons, ate pizza, and talked about our histories and feelings and aspirations and stuff. Lately, I just play Super Smash Brothers with some guys every Tuesday evening and admittedly I still don't even remember all their names but we have fun and I feel a kinship with them and maybe that's more important, or maybe it isn't; I don't claim to be an expert. "Why can't you get to know people by hanging out?" I persisted.
"It's just not the same," she said. "You just talk and stuff and if it's not going well you try again another time."
"How do you know if it's not going well?" I asked.
"You can tell."
"You can tell, you can read their faces and how they're acting..."
"I'm an Aspie."
"A person with Aspergers."
I really didn't expect that to be as much of a conversation killer as it was. During the awkward silence that followed I imagine she was processing the fact that none of this gung-ho optimistic stuff was applicable to me after all. (Ever seen one of those "The Many Moods of Vader" T-shirts where the joke is that they all look exactly the same? It's kind of like that.) Or maybe she thought I had said "ass burgers" and was stupefied. When it became obvious that she wasn't going to start talking again, which is very out of character for her, I started talking again. "I can't ask with any sort of composure, anyway," I said. "I'd stutter and stammer and not look her in the eye..." (Partly out of nervousness and party out of the feeling that I'm being inauthentic, reciting words that I would never dream of saying on my own from someone else's script just because they decided long before I was born that I'm "supposed" to.)
"Practice on me," she said. "Pretend I'm her. I'll even say no, so you can get used to her saying no, but I don't think she will because every girl likes ice cream."
Unable to take this seriously, I began "Hey, sugar lips..."
Because this person is so dang amazing I decided I would ask her out after all if she was single because, you know, we weren't actually sure on that and I felt like it was kind of important. There really should be a relationship equivalent of wedding rings to make that more obvious. Nothing fancy or expensive, just a little fashion statement that says you're taken, or allows you to pretend you're taken without actually lying. Half my female co-workers have wedding rings and that's really convenient for me to know that if I crush on them I'll go to hell. Of course there was one who decided not to wear hers because she was afraid of losing it, and still remains unaware of the problem this caused. Anyway, I asked a couple people and they were like "I think she's single but I'm not entirely sure" and of course that wasn't good enough. I hesitated to ask her best friend because I didn't trust her to keep it to herself but I figured that was better than asking everyone in the warehouse, so I did and she said "I'm sorry, she has a boyfriend. Do you like her?" No, I'm just taking a survey. I miss my call center job... NOT.
Conflicting emotions of disappointment and relief battled for a quarter hour or so and then settled down. I figured if I was sad when I got home I would numb it by purchasing an album. As impulsive and unhelpful to the root causes as such an action may be, I knew I wouldn't regret it later. Twenty years from now I wouldn't be like "Gee, I wish I'd never bought this music that I still have and can listen to whenever I want." Music is love, music is life. I wasn't sad when I got home, but I purchased an album anyway.
King - She's into Star Wars
I've shared this before but I'm sharing it again because of Star Wars!
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.