When Darth Vader saved the day…

by Eric

We moved to Delafield in 1981. It would be the second of many moves throughout my childhood, though it would be the first I actually remember. I don’t remember having any friends in Wausau. Now mind you I’m not saying I had few friends, or barely any friends. I literally do not remember having any friends. There was one boy I vaguely remember seeing here and there around our yard at 1212 Emter Street, and I think I either tried to or actually did play with him a couple times. However this vague recollection is about as detailed as that memory is ever going to get.

So moving wasn’t particularly difficult. I left behind the school I threw up in. Well, my dad also, but I remember seeing him infrequently when we did live there so the 4-6 times a year we saw him after we moved never seemed to come to me as a shock. It’s funny when we are young, the significant things that minutely affect us, contrasted against the little things that shape our world. This was a lesson I was about to learn for the very first time.

Once in Delafield I was enrolled in Brandybrook Kindergarten. Cushing Elementary only housed the first through the fifth grades. So I had go get on a bus around 11 (I am not sure on the time at all) for PM kindergarten. After school was out it was a little bit trickier. We would take a bus from Brandybrook to Cushing, get off that bus, then each of us had to find the right buses to get on that would take us home. There were like 20 buses lined up (probably 4-5). My mom has always taken such great pride of me being able to find the right bus on my first week that to this day she tells the story.

There are two things I most remember about starting at Brandybrook. First was being able to read. We had to do chores (or tasks?) and our names were posted on a board using little laminated pieces of paper with velcro stuck to the back. Each task had a different shape, so most of the kids recognized their name, and then knew the shape of the chore they were assigned to. The first thing I noticed on the board was the list of chores. As the teacher began moving the shapes to our names, it was only when she reminded most students which shape they had by their name that I realized halfway into the school year a good number of kids couldn’t read much more than their name.

The second memory I have, and the most significant memory of moving, was this odd sensation that everyone had friends. As I never had friends (and thus didn’t know that other people had friends, and that it was entirely normal), it was weird to see people in real life, not on TV or in the movies, to be close to each other non-stop; everyone except me. For something I never knew was actually a possibility, I felt immediately wanting it.

I worked my way up to conversation with hopes of immediately transforming into a lifelong friendship. After that missed, I figured just getting someone to talk to me twice in one day was a helluva start. Day after day for those first few weeks, the smell of desperation was apparent a mile away. Kids who had spent a lifetime together, and had now been in class for the entire school career of 5 months, had no long term interest in the weird small kid with a big head and well-worn hand me down clothes. Then one day, everything changed.

“You don’t know the power of the Dark Side.”

– Darth Vader

Show and tell was scheduled for the day. I decided to bring my prized Darth Vader full conversion van model kit from MPC. I spent hours on this, between building, painting and applying the decals. My eternal quest for a friend was on hold. This was about sheer pride. As soon my turn swung around I walked to the head of the class. I couldn’t stop myself. Pointing out all of the pieces it took to assemble this beauty, the Testors paints that brought it to stunning realism, and that decal… I had forgotten that I promised I would get that painted on my own van someday.

No one flinched. Or so I thought.

As we were heading to the coat room to get ready to leave for the day, someone (for the life of me I can’t remember their name) came running out crying. “Mrs. Somebody!!! Nicky sat on Eric’s Darth Vader van!!” He was telling the truth. It was the most heinous accident in the history of kindergarten. What was once the pinnacle of Star Wars snap-tite scale modeling lie in pieces in its box, now serving as a coffin.

But as one thing dies, another is born. Me and Mr. I-Feel-So-Terrible-I-Can’t-Remember talked all the way home, which had others curious and joining in. That bus ride home I ended up with a number of friends whom I would keep until we moved away 3 years later.

I don’t even remember what happened to the van. I don’t even remember remembering what happened to it. I’m assuming my mom, notorious over the years for pitching stuff, saw a broken toy and knew it’s proper place. ?

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