Revenge of the Nerds

  You know what I have a problem with? Cool people who insist that they are — or that they once were — nerds. Because, you know? Even though it’s cool to call yourself a nerd these days, nerds, by definition, aren’t actually cool. And the people who willingly admit to being nerds actually wouldn’t admit it if they really were nerds, because then, well ... there is a difference. If you are actually a nerd, you don’t tend to want to announce it publicly. You tend to quietly go about your nerdy little life, playing along like you’re mostly cool and hoping people won’t notice that you really like trilobites or enjoy reading the Chicago Manual of Style.

All of which is by explaining why, until now, I have not mentioned on this website that I have never seen Star Wars.

Because, I’m sorry, but every North American child of my generation has seen Star Wars. And The Empire Strikes Back. And that other one, the return of the whatevers. And then those other three with that guy Jar-Jar and the princess played by that badass Natalie Portman.

Except me. And it’s not like I was locked inside an iron lung or something between 1979 and 1984 or so. I chose not to see them. Because they did not interest me. I vividly remember my brother and my two male cousins running hyperactively through a movie theatre parking lot as though their lives depended on seeing that movie and thinking, “Why would I bother to see that movie? I don’t care about stars and wars and spaceships.” Because I didn’t. Which put me, apparently, into a tiny minority of my friends, into a class of true nerddom. At the time, I thought it was a gender thing: it was a boy movie and I was decidedly not a boy. Except that all the girls I know saw the movie too, and loved it.

I probably still wouldn’t care, except for the fact that now Rowan, and by extension, Isaac, all of a sudden care. Passionately. Rob, who is a walking Star Wars codex (and not, however, despite his protestations otherwise, a nerd) put it on for them one day, and now, it’s all about the light sabres. Rowan skulks into rooms, wielding the sabre he has managed to procure, breathing heavily. “Hi, Darth,” I say, and he points that thing at me and says, “Guards,” or “Mom! I’m not Darth Vader, I’m Luke!” And I say, “Oh, sorry. Luke.” A few nights ago, he wrapped a towel around his shoulders and said, “I look a bit like Darth Vader in this, don’t I?” This morning, I walked in on him and Isaac on the sun porch, Rowan with the sabre, Isaac making do with a broom. “Come with me to the dark side, and together we will rule the planet,” Rowan was saying. To which Isaac replied, “Okay.”

At the risk of making a massive understatement, there’s obviously something compelling about these movies, something that captivates children and grown-ups alike, over the span of generations. Rachel, getting all lit-critty on me, calls them “sacred texts.” She may be right.

So what is so strange about me that I don’t get them? Over the years, I’ve caught glimpses of each movie, and they don’t draw me in. Other people see magic, and I see rinky-dink special effects and jerky monsters and slightly forced dialogue. The actors mumble and I can’t follow the plot. So I don’t.

On the other hand, it’s not like I’ve ever given the George Lucas oeuvre an enthusiastic chance.

Until now, that is.

People, I’m going to watch Star Wars. With my sons. I am going to watch the first three movies in their entirety, although I make no promises, yet, about the prequels. I’m going to try to watch them through the eyes of my children, to set aside my own biases (and, Rob, sarcastic comments), and see if it’s possible, at this late stage, for a lifelong holdout to convert to the church of Jedi. I’ll keep you posted on this experiment.

May the force be with— oh, fuck off.