There I was, stood on the other side of the door, awaiting my cue. I was nervous. Apart from the few people stood behind me laughing and pointing, I was alone and hating my wife.
Forced to be Darth Vader
Due to my shoebox head being encased in black plastic, I was straining to hear exactly what my D.J wife was saying. I worried, I expect like many evil icons, about making a premature entrance. How embarrassing would THAT be? Bursting through the door, being all menacing and watnot and your wife telling you to go back out and come back in again. People might think I was mental. People might think I was whipped yo….
After the mumbled waffling of my D.J wife, more music came on. I breathed a sigh of relief. I am not a Star Wars aficionado, but I was reasonably confident that Lord Vader did not roam the corridors of the Death Star to the sounds of the Macarana. My time was nigh, but not right now…
Darth Vader in 1978
Danielle Blanchard and I were super excited as we walked hand in hand with my mother to the local Asda to meet Darth Vader. The proper Darth Vader mind you, not some skinny bloke forced to dress-up like a pillock by his wife and entertain a room full of children. No, this was the real Darth Vader – David Prowse, in the actual costume.
Danielle Blanchard was smashing. I don’t know whether it was the fact that she never had a runny nose, always laughed at my jokes, or didn’t smell of poo, but any which way, I fancied the pants off her. I was five. I was in love.
It should be noted that this is still my criteria for fancying women.
So it is safe to say that I was out to impress little Miss Blanchard. Whilst my exact modus operandi is a little hazy now 35 years on, I suspect it took the form of some serious showing off, being a bit cheeky and generally acting like a silly nobhead.
It should be noted that this is still my general modus operandi for impressing girls. If it ain’t broke….
The walk to our local Asda took about 20 minutes from my house. And much like my son today, I had refused to go to the loo before we left. The battles I have fought over the past few years, insisting that my son urinates on demand, afford me a new found respect for my poor mother.
Me: Go for a wee.
Him: I don’t WANT to.
Me: JUST GO FOR A WEE!
*He stomps upstairs*
*He unleashes like a rugby player after 10 pints*
Me: Did you need a wee?
Moral of the story: Children are idiots
Here comes Darth Vader
We arrived at Asda with but moments to spare. I was displaying the tell-tale fidgety signs of a full bladder. My mother took the time to chastise me, but not the time to take me to the toilet. I impart this information only in a bid to make me seem slightly less pathetic in a few paragraphs time.
I can remember the exact moment when Lord Vader appeared. I was stood clinging onto a silver barrier with Danielle at my side. Life didn’t get better than this.
Interestingly, prior to his imminent Asda appearance, I had never actually seen Darth Vader. I had no idea who he was? I hadn’t seen the film. I didn’t have the toys. I’m not really sure why we were there? Possibly my mother needed some milk? Maybe she had the hots for Prowse? Who knows? It was the 70’s, nobody cared back then.
The music started playing. Asda went quiet. He appeared. A MASSIVE black nightmare. He strode centre stage and with a swish of his cape, pointed directly at Danielle and me. Simultaneously, a high pitched noise sounded out. It was piercing. It was terrifying. It took me a few moments to realise it was me. I was screaming like a little girl.
I looked at Danielle, to see if she was screaming like a little girl too, but she was too busy looking at me screaming like a little girl. I could see the disdain in her eyes, even at five. It pierced my delicate sense of self. I would become accustomed to this feeling as I grew up. Girls perplexed by my ability to employ the female vocal register.
I looked around, nobody else was screaming. WHAT WAS THE MATTER WITH THEM, THE DEVIL WAS AMONGST US?!
I looked up at my mother and she was smiling (?) seemingly unconcerned that I was close to shrieking myself unconscious. In fairness, it was the 70’s and children’s feelings hadn’t been invented back them. She could never have anticipated the thousands of pounds spent on therapist’s fees in the years to come.
She did pat my head and ask me to hush (?) Mainly, I have concluded with hindsight, because I was stealing Darth’s limelight. In fairness to her, this was the 70’s and parenting hadn’t been invented back then. And I was making one hell of a scene. I remember it well. Everyone was far more interested in me mentally breaking down, than the Green Cross Code man in fancy dress. Poor David Prowse.
The kind hand of Darth Vader
At this juncture, Darth Vader in his infinite wisdom decided the best course of action was to approach me and extend his hand, much like, I have since come to learn, he does when he crushes the throats of insubordinates. I countered this misplaced act of kindness by wetting myself. That’d show him.
My mother tells me that Lord Vader visibly recoiled. The sight of a screaming 5-year old urinating like a spooked stallion was enough to turn the Dark Master on his heels.
Someone should have told the Rebel Alliance. I could have saved lives.
Word up yo, forget sending the Rebel fighters looking for that one-in-a-million shot into the exhaust port. It’s a suicide mission. Just send in the 5-year old Man in his pyjamas to waz all over Vader’s boots. That’ll send him running for the inter-galactic hills.
As I stood in the ladies toilets at Asda in the summer of 1978, naked from the waist down, I couldn’t look Danielle in the eye. She hovered over by the hand towels looking bored, whilst my mother helped me change into new clothes, bought moments earlier from Asda. Now that is clever marketing.
Irrespective, I knew Danielle Blanchard and I would never be. There was just no-way I could come back from this. Better just chalk it up to experience and learn to quash the shame with wine in a few years. I would be on a bottle of red a day by the time I was eight.
Darth Vader in the car
Danielle Blanchard and wet underpants were my first line of defence, when my wife informed me, whilst driving back from my mother’s, that she’d secretly arranged the hiring of a Darth Vader costume, so that I could dress up at our son’s impending 4th birthday party.
I was FURIOUS. I’d been had. BIG TIME. The costume hiring had been a cloak and light sabre affair between Wifey and my family. I’d been kept in the dark because everybody knew I would NOT want to do it. So to get around the minor inconvenience of my feelings, I’d just not been told. In fairness to them, it’s 2014 and Daddy’s feelings are largely irrelevant nowadays.
For the rest of the car journey I seethed in silence. Oooh I used the force some. I was furious. Furious because I was powerless. I’d been lead by-the-hand into a guilt cul-de-sac by my very own wife. What kind of father would not dress up as Darth Vader, in a costume that had been hired specially for him, when his son had specifically requested that Darth Vader be present at his party?
Even I couldn’t get out of this one. I was dressing up as Darth Vader and there was NOTHING I could do about it. Except sulk for a week. Sulk like a Jedi.
Darth Vader- 36 years on.
The thought of a 5-year old me publicly wetting myself at the sight of Darth Vader, was fresh in my mind, as I opened the door and entered a room full of 4 year old’s, dressed as Darth Vader….
(Just to be clear I was dressed as Darth Vader, not the room full of 4 year olds. That would be WEIRD)
I had raised the ‘the children might be terrified’ issue several times with my cowbag of a sneaky wife in the week previous, but she assured me that she’d informed all of the parents of Darth’s appearance, at the invitee stage. So EVERYONE knew I was going to be Darth Vader before me. One more for the grounds for divorce folder….
As I entered the room, even with the sounds of the Imperial March blaring out, I was still very aware of the room going deathly quiet. I could feel it.
I had to feel it, because I couldn’t see it. Surprisingly, sticking your head inside a black plastic sphere of Darth, greatly impinges your vision. Vader’s eye sockets were made of a slightly thinner black plastic, but they were still black plastic. Without my glasses, they may as well have been made of brick.
I was the Mr Magoo of Star Wars baddies. The Death Star would’ve had a blue badge were I in charge. Thus, my entrance as Darth Vader was cautious, slightly retarded and well……. distinctly un-Vader-ish.
Bring to mind the gait of one using a Zimmer Frame and then remove the Zimmer Frame and the result is me, dressed as Darth Vader, moving like an evil geriatric in slow motion. This probably made me look even more ridiculous, to the many parents that I didn’t know? I suspected they were looking at me with incredulity. I imagined what I would be thinking were I watching this spectacle. I blushed.
Unbeknownst to me children were leaving in droves, heading for the safety of their parents knees or in one instance, just leaving the room completely. In hysterics. No-one to my knowledge wet themselves though. Bastards.
Using the force, I could sense I was stood on the dance floor. Alone. In the middle of the room. With everyone looking at me. I cursed my wife with every fibre of my being. And then, with no other option, I got my funk on.
I started with some pointing. Both hands. I moved on to some striding. Backwards AND forwards. My helmet kept slipping slightly, so I held it steady with one hand as I paced up and down. In retrospect, as I paced, with my hand to my ear, it probably looked as if Darth Vader was on hold to the Gas Board.
As I became more accustomed with the sight lines of the costume and the space available on the dance floor, I started to find my feet. I felt the performer in me begin to surface. I let it consume me. Once an actor….
I imagined myself on Broadway. The stage version of Star Wars. I was inside the costume, James Earl was in the wings on the radio mic. Prowse was seething in the cheap seats.
They wanted Darth Vader, let’s give them Darth Vader. Or a slightly camp version anyway.
I began to move with verve. I strode with a flourish. I imagined my glorious black cape billowing out behind me, like a scene from…well Star Wars. I waved. Confidently. I was improvising here obviously, I have not watched all of the film, but I am guessing Darth Vader didn’t do much holiday camp waving?
I soon tired of strutting around like an evil peacock and was building up quite a sweat inside my plastic shell, so I perched on the edge of the stage to catch my breath.
The tide had turned. I was no longer feared. Camping it up on the dance floor appeared to have appeased the children’s fears. I was no longer Darth Vader, I was Jesus Vader now. Surrounded by children of all nationalities, shaking my hand and sitting on my knee, desperate to embrace me, to be a part of history.
And there, through the sweat and the plastic, I could see my son, stood in front of me. We embraced. I rested my black plastic forehead on his shoulder and in a moment of beautiful serendipity, he said:
“Darth Vader, you are my Daddy. Thank you for being Darth Vader daddy. You are the best Daddy in the world.“
I cried inside that big sweaty helmet.
Darth Vader over and out
After a few more handshakes and what seemed like AN AGE, I headed for the door. My time had passed. I had survived. Maybe I had learnt something?
Either way, I was done. Or so I thought. I was intercepted by my wife as I headed out. She grabbed my arm and whispered sternly “Do some dancing before you go”.
DO SOME ********DANCING BEFORE YOU GO, ARE YOU TRYING TO GET DIVORCED WOMAN?
Luckily for my wife I did not have a working light sabre.
Doing the Birdy dance dressed as Darth Vader in front of a room full of strangers, is the perfect life humbler. I felt any sense of shame leave me. I could not be any more embarrassed. EVER. I had reached the Nirvana of shame lows. Or so I thought …..
When I finally left the room and removed my mask in the disabled toilets, I realised that my foam cod-piece must have inverted whilst I was dancing. It was no longer covering my genitals, but pointing up towards my chin.
I think it may have appeared as if Darth Vader had a massive erection whilst doing the Birdy Dance in a room full of children.
I am expecting the Police at any moment
Years later Danielle Blanchard and I would kiss in the French Alps. That’s not a euphemism. I am INVINCIBLE.
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