Friday, January 21, 2005

They're Jawas

I have an obsessive need to help.

I don't know when it began. I'm just somehow genetically wired to be a helper. On the streets of New York, whenever I see someone at a street corner with a befuddled expression staring at a map, it's all I can do to stop myself from snatching it out of their hands, demanding to know where they want to go, and directing them there.

I'm a helper.

When I was in undergraduate school, before touch-tone registration systems were being used, you had to go to the big gymnasium and race around to tables staffed by each department, where you would collect a computer punch card that corresponded to the class you wanted to take. This involved standing in multiple long lines, and was exhausting. Some friends of mine and I took a break, and sat down in some folding chairs that had been abandoned by one side of the cavernous gym. Somebody wandering by wondered where the Psych Department table was. I pointed them in the right direction. I hadn't gone there to get a class card, I was just observant. Somebody else needed to know if they had to go to Financial Aid before they got their class cards, or after. I knew the answer. I mean, come on, everybody knew that. Someone else wondered what time registration was over. Look, it says right here. No problem, happy to help. Finally, one of my friends said, Jeez, is there a sign that says "Information" over your head?

We looked up. Why, yes. Yes, there was.

Apparently all the Information Givers had fled the building in search of Big Gulps, and we had taken their chairs.

Here's one of the earliest examples of my Helper-slash-Buttinsky nature. Picture it: 1977. Star Wars is about to open. I, being eleven years old, am dyyyyyying to see Star Wars. Of course, I can't wait until it opens, I have to see it at the very first opportunity. There was a fundraiser being held, with a special early showing of the movie. Tickets were $25 (this was Arizona in the 70s, so that was a fair chunk of change, considering my normal movie ticket was something like $1.75 then.) I don't know how I managed to get my mitts on the money (thanks, Mom!) but somehow, I did, and off I went to the premiere.

I had bought the novelization at the Circle K (a 7-11 clone, if you've never seen one) but I been stern with myself, refraining from reading more than half of it before I got to see the movie. But of course, I had soaked it all up into my trivia-absorbent brain.

So, there I was, eleven years old, being dropped off at the El Dorado theater, which was at that time Tucson, Arizona's swankiest cinema (before the days of multiplexes, so it was just one big screen.) People were in suits, gowns, and even a tux here and there. I was in a shirt from Sears and shorts from JC Penney.

I was in a transcendent state of bliss as the movie began and the Imperial Star Destroyer made its long, long advance through the frame, guns firing. I can still get choked up watching that opening sequence.

Everyone else was as drawn into the film as I was, except for a woman in an evening gown behind me who kept asking her companion questions. When R2-D2 was beset by little creatures in brown robes with glowing red eyes, she whispered, "What are those?"

My Helper-slash-Shuusher instincts responded instantly. I was prepared. I had read the novelization. (I also hate movietalkers.) I whipped around in my seat.

"They're Jawas!"

Like anyone wouldn't know that, doy. It's soooo obvious.

That shut her up, hoo yeah. Nothing like being hissed at by an irate eleven year old.

I'm sorry, have you been helped?


Blogger jwer said...

If only you'd been sitting closer to Miss "It was good, but it was no 'Da Vinci Code'..." at that theater in West Buffolk... she could've used a good irate hissing.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Broadsheet said...

It's nice to read the memories of someone who grew up in the same era you did (all these youngsters with blogs - what's up with that? You can't write seriously without serious life experience - right?)

Anywho - I went to the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and class registration started in the Cow Palace at the Agriculture barns on the south end of campus. No kidding. We lined up in alppabetical order in the cattle shutes, and then they randomly let the chutes open, and we tumbled out of them and raced to the tables to pick up our packets, that then had to be taken all over campus to get registered at each Dept. People rented cars for the day, just to race around more quickly before all the premium classes were filled. Once you were done, you went to the Amrory and sat in another interminable line to submit the paperwork and pay your fees. This process was especially invigorating in mid-January when the high temp is usually somewhere between numbing and frigid in Wisconsin.

I saw Star Wars in Ames, Iowa with my cousins (summer vacation visit), and a whole load of Univ. of Iowa students who cheered, clapped, laughed, and generally treated it as the "Rocky Horror Picture Show". It was the coolest thing ever....

7:33 AM  
Blogger jwer said...

It seems like, had they run you through the cattle chutes, then selected a few of you as "dairy" and the slaughtered the rest, that might've been a better preparation for real life....

7:50 AM  

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