“I want it on my tombstone: Here lies Tony Pacitti. If nothing else, he knew more about Star Wars than some stupid girl who only started liking it way after he did.” (Tony Pacitti, My Best Friend is a Wookie)
I often take to describing myself a: a 12 year old boy in the year 1977, stuck in the body of a present day 30 year old woman. Walking into my apartment is akin to walking into a house where the parents have given up on making the kids pick up their toys. Except the only kids who come here are my two young nieces, and they are restricted to touching only sticker books and pez dispensers. A lunch box collection lines the walls of my foyer. Glass cases (thanks Ikea!) proudly boast the likes of a completed LEGO Slave-1 and a complete set of Burger King Star Wars Toys. When I held a surprise party for my boyfriend, the majority of his colleagues thought the figures were his. One mistakenly picked up my Force FX Lightsaber from Master Replica thinking he was going to play with it.
I’m also a bibliophile. One who loves books. Devours and digests them at extraordinary rates; usually purchasing or hoarding several in advance so that I may never run out (or just in case bookstores disappear all together. I detest e-readers. You hear me Kindle? I’m coming after you).
Yesterday, I uncovered one such book. Enamored by it’s title alone, My Best Friend is a Wookie, I bought a copy the day it released; fearing I would miss my chance because our store only received 3 copies. Apparently I was alone in my passion: the remaining two copies lasted until the last week our store was open (a year later) and I bought them as gifts at a 70% discount. But the find was fortuitous yesterday, as I had finished my Advance Reader copy of Samantha Bee’s book, and need some new bathroom material.
My fanny fell asleep, I sat on the toilet so long.
Tony Pacitti’s autobiography of a boy growing up in the 90’s as a Star Wars nerd removed from it’s popularity was a delightful read. I mean it. In fact, I spent several minutes there before settling on the description of delightful. Hilarious would not do the painful parts justice. Pacitti takes us through his Massachusetts upbringing, the product of nerds- though his father would forever deny it- a smaller kid than the rest. He was the subject of bus stop bullying, and aligned himself with a boy named Queef because, well, when Queef was around, Tony wasn’t the target.
Pacitti touches on those moments that make childhood both magical and humiliating. He takes the embarrassment of calling the teacher mom one step further when he raises his hand to tell her that he’s wet himself. Any self respecting fanboy/girl can appreciate his excitement when the thing he loves, Star Wars,gains some popularity with the cool crowd; only to find himself irritated at all the new fly by night fans who think they know everything about the Universe. And of course, there is the heartbreak each one of the three prequels bring.
I identify with Tony all the way to college. Sometimes embarrassed by the degree to which I’m identifying. No one really wants to own the snark and elitist attitudes we harbor when it comes to our passion, Star Wars, comic books or otherwise. It’s the stereotype that makes characters like Comic Book Guy all too real. But Tony Pacitti owns it. Now I’ll own mine too, and admit I have a hard time with people who don’t understand there’s a difference between Storm Troopers, Snow Troopers, Clone Troopers, and Boba Fett. The people who don’t realize what the orange armbands mean, or why Jar Jar was not simply annoying, but an abomination.
If anything, I would have liked to see more of Tony’s adult life. I understand he’s still living it, but I felt a lot was skipped over in the high school years to get to that third and final movie.
I was sorry to read the last page, and end my time with Pacitti sharing our Star Wars obsessions. You don’t need to love Star Wars to love this narrative, but it helps. There is a lesson to be learned for people outside the pop-culture obsessed, and it’s simply this: don’t confuse the Death Star for Vader’s Star Destroyer, and we can all get along just fine.