Every December ten of us gather to watch the Star Wars Holiday Special, drink eggnog, ridicule cult film dreck. Jack's bootleg, flea market purchased tape has vintage commercials: No Nonsense pantyhose, The Wiz in theaters, sitcom Alice Sundays on CBS. The movie has baby Wookiee Lumpy, Jefferson Starship singing “Light the Sky on Fire,” Art Carney and Bea Arthur sleepwalking along with the original film cast. It sucks—even Lucas disavows it. Watching grainy, static-lined footage from 1978 can be painful. But it's always been about camaraderie.
This year, I sit near Vince, old college buddy, thinning hair, two-marriage veteran. Cartoon Boba Fett appears on screen. Beth's pregnant, I say, life's changing fast. Congratulations, he replies in monotone, finishing his eggnog. Vince's second wife cheated on him, peddled his comic collection to buy heroin.
Beth never comes but she indulges me. Five years ago, pre-Beth, I told newcomer Rose, it's trippy, like doing acid. Her face crinkled below her pink-blond hair like I'd farted. She walked away. The following year, no Rose. By then, I was engaged to Beth.
The night ends. We exchange goodbyes, Merry Christmases, Happy New Years. Outside, crisp cold air. My head twinkles with eggnog. Car doors slam, engines fire. Quickly, there's silence. I look skyward, remember how I used to ponder stars, what worlds orbited them. Whenever I asked Beth, what if Star Wars was real somewhere, she'd reply, the Empire's dead, babe. I drive home, think about Beth and the baby, our new world.