Long, long ago in a cinema on U.S. 90...
It seems like just the other day, but it was 40 years ago in 1977, Dad (Charles Delk) came home from work and said, “Son, put your shoes on; we’re going to a movie.”
At 15, I wouldn’t have been caught dead at the movies with a parent; that just wasn’t cool, but it was a new movie called “Star Wars,” and I couldn’t drive yet so I thought, “Why not?” I jumped into Dad’s El Camino and he drove us to the Surfside Twin Cinema in Biloxi. We stood in a long line and finally got in. The whole time I prayed I wouldn’t be recognized by friends.
We found some empty seats and sat down. Dad started a conversation with me, but I wouldn’t have anything to do with him. I begged him to leave me alone and held my head down as I checked around to see if anybody was watching me. What was I thinking? At the movies with my Dad? Oh, geez!
After a long silence the theater finally went dark and those words appeared across the screen. “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far way...” Then that now famous theme music began as the huge “Star Wars” logo appeared across the huge screen.
I was mesmerized for hours as Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, and Han Solo told me a story of good versus evil. Wow, what a movie! I saw it 17 times during that summer. I collected memorabilia. Bought the album and listened to it religiously. Wore a different “Star Wars” character T-shirt every day to school. Yep, I was definitely a “Star Wars” geek.
So after seven “Star Wars” films and four decades later, I once again anxiously awaited the release of a “Star Wars” movie, the newest installment, “The Last Jedi.” It occurred to me that somewhere in my attic was an old box of treasures I’d been storing for years and after digging around awhile, I found them; my 1978 “Star Wars” calendar, the official Marvel comic book, even an old poster — a little torn, but intact.
As I looked over my treasures, I remembered that adventure I shared with Dad 40 years ago. Perhaps I wasn’t really too embarrassed to be seen with him. Actually, I had the greatest dad in the whole theater; I just didn’t know it then.
So now it’s my turn. This 55-year-old went to pick up his 88-year-old Dad the other day and said, “Put your shoes on, we’re going to see a movie!”
Dads, take this suggestion: Come home from work early, put down that remote control and iPad and find your teenagers. Take them to see “Star Wars.” They might be a little embarrassed — perhaps horrified you’ll do something “un-cool,” like use your make-believe light saber to fight a make-believe Darth Vader in the parking lot (yes, that really happened) — but I promise that, years from now, they’ll look back on an incredible adventure they shared with the greatest hero in the galaxy — you!
EDITOR’S NOTE: A version of this column appeared in the Dec. 25, 2015, edition of the Sun Herald when the father and son went to see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” together.
David Delk of Gulfport is a veteran of numerous local community theater productions and is an avid “Star Wars” fan.