Friday, May 08, 2009

Mythic Journey: Endor, Hogwarts, and Philadelphia

My son and my brother share a bond. They were born on the same day and have innumerable similarities (such as an interest in watching and playing sports) not shared with me. This proves yet again that the Almighty has a great sense of humor. I was a terrible big brother, beyond the tormenting typical of big brothers I was fundamentally opposed to his existence – I had lobbied for a dog. My father was allergic to dogs. I countered (throughout my childhood) that I was allergic to my brother. In my son I am getting the chance to right my ancient wrongs. He is the little brother I always wanted.

My son had seen two of the three original Star Wars movies. My brother and I had discussed meeting at his place near Philly to watch one of the movies on his big-screen TV – but plans kept falling through (my brother is handicapped with having a regular job). The whole thing was looking less and less likely as my brother will soon have a child of his own. But then I checked my calendar and saw my son’s school was closed last Monday.*

Daddy, Where are we going?
I called my brother and everything worked. I decided to surprise my son.

So, Sunday afternoon I surreptitiously loaded the car, and told my son to come join me for a couple of errands. We put on a CD of Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix on and began driving. After about an hour, he asked me where we were going? I told him, “Some errands.”

We stopped at a rest stop, where I bought him the forbidden elixir – Coca-Cola. I said, “Here it is! Isn’t this cool, all these restaurants and shops, right on the highway?”

“Yeah, it is neat,” he answered, “Is this really where we are going?”

“Get back in the car.” Events at Hogwarts continued to unfold.

Half an hour later he asked if we were heading home yet. No, we hadn’t done any errands. A little after that he asked again, “Daddy, where are we going?”

I told him to look at the highway signs. Harry Potter’s battle against Voldemort continued.

We passed under a highway sign directing us to Philadelphia and everything clicked. My the little Goof put it together instantly yelling, “We are going to my uncle’s house to watch Return of the Jedi!”

The Main Event – WARNING: Plot Spoilers Ahead
We had pizza and age appropriate drinks and watched favorite scenes from the first two movies. Then we sat down and watched. My son loved it, no boring parts – every scene, he said, had a battle. I asked, “What about when Yoda died?”

My brother chimed in, “He was fighting for his life.”

Although they were criticized by some of my more cynical friends as “teddy bears with guns,” my son loved the Ewoks – probably because they were in fact teddy bears with guns. It occurred to me that a great deal of planning must have gone into the Ewok attack on the Storm Troopers, giant log traps and catapults don’t just build themselves.

Archetypal Voyage Home
The next day it was too rainy to enjoy most of the proximate historical sites, and we had to get home in time to pick up my daughter from daycare. We did stumble upon a local sports museum – teaching my son a cardinal rule of road trips – it isn’t about the destination, it is about what you find on the way.

We spent the morning and afternoon driving home listening to more Harry Potter. I would occasionally stop the story and make a few points.

“When they use the pain curse on Harry Potter, isn’t that just like when the Emperor used the Force lightning on Luke?”

“Isn’t what Dumbledore is telling Harry just like what Obi-Wan told Luke?”

Daaad, enough about archetypes – can’t we just listen to the story?”

*My son’s school is but another illustration of the maxim, the more expensive the school the more often they close. I understand closing for Jewish holidays – it is a Jewish day school. But they also have a lot of professional days – aka three-day weekends.

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