As I have mentioned more often than is really necessary, I liked Star Wars when I was a kid. I really, really liked it. And before Jedi came out and Vader was revealed to have a boiled-fish, soft-unripened-cheese, triangular, vulnerable under-helmet head, I was more scared of him than of just about anything else, which was unfortunate, because he lived in my closet.

I'm not sure why I decided he lived in my closet and not, say, in the equally sinister under-bed region of my room. But rule the Empire from my closet he did, and sometimes I could actually hear his breathing when I was trying to get to sleep and trying to ignore the fact that my closet had a door, and that doors both concealed things and could be opened by things that were concealed. Things with black-gloved hands that could mime-strangle people and actually cause them to die from strangulation.

Probably inspired by my mother's "don't be scared of earwigs because they can crawl into your brain and befriend you" story, I dealt with my terrible fear of Closet Vader by deciding that spending so much time in my closet had led to his observing me a great deal and to his realizing that I was a well-meaning, thoughtful, and decent young person. He had been lurking in my room in order to kill me, but after getting to know me, he just couldn't do it. Did he therefore leave my closet in order to return to a far-flung galaxy? No. He decided to live in my closet forever more and to protect me from the other forces that menaced me (centipedes, mostly, and something else I'll reveal next week).

What I find somewhat discouraging about my budding imaginative powers is that, as far as I can remember, I used them to save only myself. I don't think I imagined a fully reformed, child-protecting, Rebel-Alliance-embracing Vader. He was still pretty much evil and nasty and rebellion-crushing—I just made him make an exception for me. If I had it all to do over again, I would absolutely speak up for Admiral Motti.

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8/17/2012 12:59:41 am

I found myself in a similar situation as a child, although in my case Vader was living in my basement. The fact that the sounds coming from the furnace sometimes approximated (at least in my imagination) the sounds of Vader's breathing didn't help matters. Attempting to quiet my fears, my mom pointed out that underneath his mask, Vader was just a man, probably with a little boy of his own. I replied that yes, Vader did have a little boy of his own and that he cut that boy's hand off with a lightsaber.

The Catastrophizer
8/22/2012 07:23:10 am

I think in a basement near a furnace is a very sensible place for Darth Vader to live. I, too, had a furnace, and it's entirely possible Darth Vader would have taken up residence near it if it weren't for the fact that my sister had already told me a giant spider lived there. She told me that so that I wouldn't bother her when she hung out in the basement with her friends. HER GIANT SPIDER FRIENDS.


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