Ewoks are Dumb, Jimmy is Tall, and These Go To 11

Took Boy6 to see Star Wars, Episode I on the big screen. We went to the same theater that I saw it in back in ’99, even though it’s now an hour’s drive from me. I drove that far so that I could see it with Michele, one of the people that I saw it with originally.

This time around I took a little nap through most of the movie. The theater was dark and warm and I was tired. Michele napped, too.

But the first time around (May 19, 1999–yes, I have the date memorized, what’s it to you??) Michele and I took the day off work to see the very first showing on opening day. We went with Jimmy, Michele’s cousin. That was the first day I met Jimmy. I hoped he was a true Star Wars fan, because I was unapologetically letting my inner Star Wars Geek out for the day.

Michele picked me up and when we got to Jimmy’s house he was by the door, waiting for us. We’d barely pulled up, when his screen door went flying open and Jimmy, all 6’15, 300 pounds of him, came bounding down the front steps, spry as a gazelle.

Michele popped in the Star Wars music cd and we were off. When we got to the theater (2 hours early, so we could get good seats) there was a line already forming. Just to be sure it was the right line, I asked the people there, “This is the line for Episode I, right?” They lifted their Darth Vader masks, rolled their eyes at me and said, “Duh!”

Then, the movie. The music! The paragraphs floating through space! Dreadful Jar Jar Binks! (Worse than the Ewoks! How is that even possible?!) That Darth Maul fight scene! (One of my favorite scenes of all time.) We were in the theater with all the other true Star Wars fans, so there was lots of cheering.

And when it was done, we headed right to JC Penney’s for our Star Wars t-shirts. Jimmy’s was too small and mine was too big, but we bought them anyway. (I was barely over 100 pounds back then. No, it wasn’t good. I looked sickly all the time.) And then to Pizzeria Uno for lunch where we told the waiter, in caps lock, “WE JUST SAW EPISODE I AND THE FIGHT SCENE WAS AMAZING!” He didn’t seem as impressed as we’d hoped. He smiled and nodded and slowly backed away from the table. Honest–he did.

We made a pact to watch Episode I every May 19th together. We managed to keep the pact for only one year.

After that, I started getting to know Jimmy better.

My group of friends started a Movie Day. There were about 8 of us and we’d each bring a movie and watch them back to back from 8 in the morning until midnight. (Cactus Willie’s for dinner.) One time Jimmy brought Spinal Tap. He said, “This is a little movie none of you have probably ever seen.” We rolled our eyes at him and proceeded to quote the entire thing line by line. (“These go to 11.”) Never seen Spinal Tap. Puh-lease.*

We’d all go to music concerts together. (I would wear my earplugs. I don’t like noise.) A few of the concerts had 70-80,000 people there. If we got separated, no problem. We’d tell Jimmy, “Stay in one spot. We’ll find you.” And we always did! The mantra was, “If you get lost, meet at Jimmy.” He was so tall you could spot in him a crowd of 80,000, no problem.

And when the crowd surfers would come overhead, I’d be sure to stand by Jimmy because he would catch the crowd surfer well above my head and toss them forward. (I only got kicked in the head once. Jimmy got kicked in the head a lot. Thanks for taking those kicks for me, Jimmy!)

Jimmy introduced me to The Sims, my all-time favorite computer game. It was mesmerizing to watch this big man buying flowered couches for his little Sims, making sure they read their cook books (so they wouldn’t burn down their kitchens), and turning on their little radios for them (because it made them happy.)

We spent a number of New Year’s Eves at Jimmy’s house. His entire family would come, bringing their friends, and we’d eat heaping platters of shrimp and play charades, which to my surprise, I found that I love. Love charades!!

Soon, I started spending every other Saturday at Jimmy’s for a mini movie day. Jimmy, Joe, Vince and I (not Minestrone Soup Vince) would head to the video store and rent one or two movies to watch on Jimmy’s big screen tv. They had a voting block so we watched a lot of guy movies, like Fight Club. Subs for lunch.

One day, Michele called me to say that her garage door fell on Joe’s Jeep.

(Keep the names straight: I saw Star Wars with Michele, and watched movies at Jimmy’s house with Joe. Michele and Joe were married.)

Michele is 5 feet tall and Joe’s not much taller. Michele asked, “Uh, can you drive Jimmy to my house? We need someone tall who can get this door off the jeep.” (Jimmy couldn’t drive. Vision problems.)

I had a Geo Metro at the time. (Purple). He could barely fit in the Geo. He had to sit with his shoulders hunched over and his knees up under his chin. But, as usual, he was good natured about it. We drove to Michele’s house, Jimmy lifted the door, Joe drove the Jeep out of the garage, and I took Jimmy back home, squashed in the car.

I remember at the time being so appreciative of Jimmy’s friendship. I’m not sure I’ve ever met someone that was just so stinkin’ easy to get along with. He was good natured, easy going, funny and smart. (A Mensa member.) I enjoyed every minute I got to spend with him. Every minute. I used to think how lucky I was that I got to be friends with such a great person.

Jimmy died 5 years ago from a sudden heart attack. Joe was visiting him that day and held him in his arms as he died.

So…today I took Boy6 to see Star Wars, Episode I on the big screen. We went with Michele, one of the people that I saw it with originally back in 1999. But just Michele.

I missed you today, Jimmy.

Boy6 and Me, in 3D glasses. Tripod, 2 second timer.

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1st RULE: You do not talk about FIGHT CLUB.

2nd RULE: You DO NOT talk about FIGHT CLUB.

3rd RULE: If someone says “stop” or goes limp, taps out the fight is over.

4th RULE: Only two guys to a fight.

5th RULE: One fight at a time.

6th RULE: No shirts, no shoes.

7th RULE: Fights will go on as long as they have to.

8th RULE: If this is your first night at FIGHT CLUB, you HAVE to fight.
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* I can’t recommend Spinal Tap to my friends. Language and all, you know. Yeah, it’s funny, but it comes by its R rating honestly.

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Saying Good-Bye to Pets

This is the pet store.  We got some medicine from there today because the mice are sick.

They were sick a few months ago, but they got better with the medicine.  But about 2 weeks ago, they got sick again.  The pet store had a different medicine, and it didn’t help.  Now that they have the original medicine available, I’m hoping this cures them.

I’m a bit nervous about how sick they are.  I have had five pet cats and I’ve had to take all five of them to the vet to have them put to sleep.

For Catherine, there was an unfortunate miscommunication.  I intended on holding her while she died.  The vet didn’t understand.  He said he would take her back and get her ready, and did I want to hold her afterwards?  I said yes, meaning that after she was injected, I would hold her until she was dead.  I sat in the waiting room and heard Catherine give an angry yowl.  A bright-eyed, chatty woman was sitting there too, and piped up, “So, what’s your pet here for?”  Honestly, I didn’t want to crush the poor woman, but as soon as I answered, “To die,” I burst into noisy, blubbery, shoulder shaking tears.  That poor woman.  She must have felt like such a heel.

When I went back into the room and my sweet Catherine was already dead, all I could think about was her yowling as the poisons were injected into her and the fact that she was alone, wondering why I’d left her with the vet who was killing her.

I held her little body and it seemed to weigh more than normal.  Usually when I held her, she would press her little body against me and put her fuzzy arms around my neck.  But this time, she just dangled there.  Dead weight.  I felt so hollow.  It took months before I could walk into the apartment without bracing myself.  It was empty without her.

For the other four cats, I made sure to hold them as they died.  It is heart-wrenching and painful, but the pain of knowing Catherine’s last few minutes were alone and terrifying was worse.

They fight against the injections.  They are scared and don’t want to be at the vet.  You hold them and tell them it will be all right, but it won’t.  Because you know they have every reason to be scared.  This time, they really will die.  I couldn’t let them face that alone.

The moment of Peter’s death, his body gave a shudder, and he was gone.

Sophie and Clara got more and more still and I wasn’t sure of the exact moment when they were gone.

Richard went into a diabetic coma and never fully came out.  I found him at the bottom of the basement steps, lying on his side. I thought he was already dead, but when I said his name, he rolled his eyes at me.  It was all he could move on his own.  I don’t know how many hours he had been lying there, unable to move.  I carried him to the vet.  I didn’t know whether or not he was in pain.  His poor body was so far gone they wouldn’t have been able to fix him.  Instead of letting him linger any longer, unable to move, I let them end his life.

I can’t imagine holding a person while they die.  I’ve learned enough by now to know that there are some things that you think you can imagine, but when it actually happens, you realize the experience is unimaginable until you’ve lived it.  This is one of those things.  I know that I truly can’t imagine holding a person while they die.

All this to say; I hope the medicine works.  I wish I’d never gotten these mice.  Not because I don’t love them, but because I do.  Even though these are mice that we’ve only had a year and a half, and not the cats who I loved and cared for for 14 years, I still love them.   When we got them I fooled myself into believing that the mice would die peacefully in their sleep from old age and wouldn’t get sick.

Not everyone who reads this will understand.  I have a number of friends who never understood my love for my cats.  They certainly don’t understand my love for the mice.  They’re just mice after all.

They might not understand me, but I don’t understand them.  No, I don’t love the cats more than the people in my life, and I don’t love the mice as much as I loved the cats, but it’s still love.  And it still hurts to see the mice hunched over and having trouble breathing and knowing they’re in pain and that they could die.

It’s certainly not as all-encompassing as loving or  losing a human, and I would never even suggest that it is, but does every bit of love have to be ocean-deep in order to be called love?   And does every bit of sadness have to be soul-wrenching in order to be called sadness?