June 1999
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Journey to the Center of the Star Wars Hype

by Robert Brandt

Pedro called me at 9:45 P.M. He was already at the theater in line; 30th in line from what he told me. It was Tuesday, May 11, and we were nearly one week away from seeing the movie George Lucas promised when we were in elementary school.

You've most likely read endless reviews of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, or maybe you can count on two hands how many times you've actually seen it so far. So, without telling you what you may already know, here's a journey to the center of the pre-release hype:

9:55 p.m.

Jim and I get to the theater. We take our spots that Pedro has saved for us. We are numbers 31 and 32 respectively in the line to buy tickets for the new Star Wars movie. Jim is a good guy to have around in all-night ticket lines. He's like an old war buddy in this scenario, because we've done this on a few occasions. The only difference here is that the temperature isn't 13 degrees, and we're not sixteen and sleeping out for Billy Joel…ahh...to be sixteen and digging Billy Joel…man was I a geek.

10:15 p.m.

We introduce ourselves to #28 and #29. We find that their names are Patrick and Jim. Patrick is a twenty-nine year old manager at a Home Depot. Jim is apparently a career college student. They drove all the way from Amherst, OH to wait here in Macedonia, OH. It was at this point that I began to question my own station in life. If the guys in front of me were that old, with that life, and doing the same thing I was that night, is this all I am? I light the first of too many cigarettes and take a walk around to see if there's anyone else I know.

10:17 p.m.

Yeah, I know more people. The "Nordonia High School Geek Squad" is there. I'm not mentioning names, but you must trust me when I say that there exists a group of roughly 7-12 men in the Nordonia area who are in their mid-twenties, and live only to eat at Applebees and play D&D. Nice fellows, but one of them touches me too much. Turns out they've been there 3 hours longer than us. My self esteem goes down another three notches.

10:25 p.m.

See, Jen Young had major potential in high school. I think she was a freshman when I was a senior. She ended up dating this sucky guy, and never quite seemed the same again. Jen and these horribly immature guys were right behind us in line. Thankfully, Jen and one of the guys ended up actually sleeping all night, so we didn't have to deal with them. Too bad, because I think she felt she had to act on their level.

11:00 p.m.

Uh oh. It's the first of many calls from Gino to Pedro's cell phone. Gino is an article in himself. I guess he showed up earlier promising to bring up some snacks for us. This phone call to Pedro's cell phone was the first in a series of "I don't know when I'm getting there" calls.

11:30 p.m.

#28 and I decide to throw the baseball around. It's pretty cold, and we have to keep warm by doing stuff like this. Amongst other things, we get out the footballs and hacky sacks during the course of the evening. I couldn't move my arm for the next 3 days.

11:55 p.m.

Here's something cool. A man looking much like Jesus Christ gets out of line to pull his truck up to the curb next to everyone. He gets out a TV/VCR, and proceeds to start playing the Star Wars Trilogy for everyone to see! Hmm..does anyone else see any irony or symbolism here?

12:30 a.m.

The line is immersed in the movies…then, like a bat out of hell, Frito arrives. He proclaims to all within hearing range that experiencing the line WITH the Trilogy playing in it has caused him to have an immense orgasm. To fully grasp Frito, you must picture one of the Mario Brothers on speed.

12:45 a.m.

Did I mention the light saber fights? That's right. There were men in their 20's fighting each other with plastic toy light sabers on and off through the night. Suddenly, I feel better about myself.

1:00 a.m.

We head over to Finast to corral some lunch meat and bread, as chips and pop just aren't good meals. Jim leaves as soon as we return. He has to work in the morning. Jim gets the responsible award, as the rest of us dodged all of it the next day.

Gino calls and says he's on the way.

2:45 a.m.

No Gino. Seems as if he has gotten into yet another fight with his girlfriend. Say, has anyone ever seen Sid and Nancy? Gino isn't coming. Gino expects a lot done for him (such as waiting in line to get tickets) without actually giving anything back in return. Someimes I wonder. If he wasn't such a freaking nice guy, I suspect none of us would put up with him.

3:00 a.m.

This is the part where most of the people in line are either sleeping or on automatic pilot. I found myself talking to this guy who looked like Jughead and claims to be one of the best DJ's around. When I say DJ in this sense, I mean that he's one of those really fly white boyz who has two turntables and a microphone. I guess he competes in tournaments with other guys who do this, and he's the rare white boy. I finally figured out why jazz has all but left the young black community and been claimed by other fly white boyz like myself.

5:00 a.m.

Time for the Donut Tree! Pedro and I drive around the corner to get a dozen glazed doughnuts and some coffee. Keeping with tradition, the dozen doughnuts are consumed solely by myself and Pedro, thereby negating all of the burned off calories from running around all night.

7:30 a.m.

Yep. Gen X'ers sure do sleep late. People who dozed off around 11 were still in bed on the sidewalk. The rest of us have become zombies. My mom drove by on her way to work. I think I used up my last energy on the way to her car, because at this point I ran home to catch a few hours sleep.

12:30 p.m.

I return to find the line all the way around the building. It's a good thing we signed those release forms with our exact place in line from the night before…there were about 30 extra people in front of me that weren't there all night. The managers promptly told them to get in the back. Chalk one up for cool corporations [CineMark Theaters].

3:00 p.m.

After three hours of working on my tan in the blazing afternoon sun, we are allowed in to finally buy our tickets. I've waited for a combined 12 hours or so for this, and boy was it anticlimactic! I just waited all night for a stupid ticket to the stupid first show of a movie that could be stupid! All those not present would never get it, and would think less of me! What an idiot!

I returned home to my bed to dream of a life; a life that…well…just any life will do.

Editor's Note: Bob got to see the movie at 12:01 Wednesday, and loved it. He, Pedro, Frito and Jim have seen the movie a combined 20 times since. If you would like to know more about Bob's fascinating life or his even more fascinating friends, email him at theshrub@theshrubbery.com.

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