That Time I Met Luke Skywalker
Prologue: Work has been stupid busy. Based on going in and out of town, and inbox of over 100 emails, and a stack of mail a mile high… well, I’m behind. My last post was on March 1st (for the one due on February 27th). That means I owe posts for March 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th, and April 3rd: five total. I’ll endeavor to get them all done this week because so much has happened.
Star Wars came out in 1977 and, like so many other humans my age, it effected me in a powerful way. My favorite Christmas memory as a child? The Christmas of 1980: the year The Empire Strikes Back came out. Santa Claus brought me an AT-AT, a Hoth playset, and an abundance of toys from a galaxy far, far away.
Halloween in 1981, my mom made me a Luke Skywalker in Bespin Fatigues costume. Made me. Back in the “before time”, things like this weren’t readily available on a shelf – and my mother made sure I looked exactly like my action figure. My little sister, however, was relegated to a Jawa (complete with face makeup).
Halloween of 1983? Luke Skywalker again – this time in his Return of the Jedi costume. Homemade.
(NOTE: Photos exist somewhere in my storage unit of those costumes. I’ll scan them one day.)
In 1994, I bought my second car – the first I would finance myself instead of through my parents. My father was so proud that he offered to pay for a custom tag on my newly acquired 1988 Pontiac Firebird. I chose X-WING for the tag, and I still have it on my car to this day.
I could tell a dozen stories like the ones above. In short: I wanted to be Luke Skywalker when I grew up.
Fast forward to 2017. I’m an adult with adult responsibilities. My job has me work with celebrities on a regular basis, so I’m a bit jaded when it comes to “celeb interactive opportunities” at conventions.
Then I learned that Mark Hamill was going to be at Fan Expo Dallas – an event I was also booked to perform/run entertainment for.
Me from 1980 reached through time and yelled at me to not miss the opportunity – especially with the recent passing of Carrie Fisher.
The adult in me was hesitant, however, since I have learned before (first hand) how our heroes are more human than we expect. This can sometimes result in a disappointing experience tainting the joys we held in the naivety of our youth. There was a significant risk involved since meeting “Luke Skywalker” was a HUGE deal to the ten year old trapped inside me.
I decided to take the risk. Here’s what happened:
I walked in to the photo op carrying my license tag from 1995. An old friend from high school made the suggestion to get it signed, so I decided to bring it into the photo op.
“Hello,” Mark said.
“Hello,” I said back, attempting to sound completely my age and not ten.
I noticed him noticing my license tag I was carrying. “I’m sorry,” I apologized. “I’m a geek.”
“We’re all geeks here,” Mark responded, smiling. It wasn’t just a smile, though; it was a genuine smile.
With what I do for a living, I can smell the difference between obligation, financial motivation, and genuine interest. Mark was the real deal. It shone through immediately.
I stood next to him, careful not to invade his personal space, and leaned in while holding my car’s faded X-WING tag. I began to pose for the photo when I felt Mark’s arm. He reached over and pulled me closer into the photo.
He hugged me, and that smile you see? That’s surprised ten year old Tom Croom smiling.
I turned around, shook his hand, and thanked him… a nervous wreck the whole time. That smile, though, didn’t fade for the next hour.