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  • Tehran, Iran, 1977.

    "Hey man, there's a dude my Dad knows who's got a copy of Star Wars!"

    No way! A bright blue laser light illuminated my dark and snarky teenage soul. STAR WARS! I could see STAR WARS! I'd read all about it in Time Magazine and heard the DJs rave about it on the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service. Some of my classmates had even seen it while back on R&R. For a teenage sci-fi geek like me living as an American expat in Tehran, Iran - STAR WARS was the Holy Grail of my young life, the Led Zeppelin of the Silver Screen, the Slaughterhouse Five of Honors English assignments. My desire for STAR WARS was as infinite as the galaxy and as passionate as, well, as a 16-year-old boy who falls madly in love with every girl he passes in the hallways of Tehran American School.

    Two of my best friends, Freddie and Eddie, had just returned from the Land of the Big PX, and they'd seen it.

    "Was it really that good, Ed?"

    "Dude, it was awesome. We saw it twice in a row then once more before we had to fly back."

    "Wow. What about the light sabers? Did they look cheesy or badass?"

    "The whole movie looked badass, Robby boy," said Ed's twin brother Fred, "The light sabers were just a small part of it, man. It's the first science fiction movie I've seen that looked totally real."

    "Well, that bar scene was kind of lame," said Ed. "You could tell that some of those guys were in rubber masks, but overall, it looked way cool from beginning to end. I mean, WAY cool."

    "Damn. I wanna see it so bad! Maybe it'll come to Iran? But then I guess they'll dub it in Farsi. That'll be a bit of a drag but I guess I could follow along. My Farsi sucks so bad though."

    "Yeah, don't count on it playing here. Ralph (our nickname for the Shah) might have problems with an Empire facing a revolution."

    "Ah, you're killing me, man. I hope it's still playing when I go stateside for Christmas."

    "Dude. The lines were around the block. It's huge. I wouldn't be surprised if it was still going strong."

    I spent the fall of 1977 reading everything I could about STAR WARS and listening to Jean Michel Jarre's "Oxygene" even though Freddie and Eddie told me that 'Oxygene' sounded nothing like movie's soundtrack, 'It's more old-timey than that cosmic rock stuff; the music's not spacey at all, but it's still cool.'

    And then one day my buddy Joe slid up to me at my locker and whispered about a bootleg he'd heard about. There was going to be a special screening at one of the ABII (American Bell International) apartments; Joe was invited and offered to take me with him. I was thrilled! We weren't supposed to talk about it as the whole thing wasn't exactly legal and not a sanctioned company event. Somehow somebody's Dad had got a hold of a pirate video tape and was doing these private showings. It was all hush hush secret spy stuff and I couldn't wait.

    The weekend rolled around and it was time for the super secret screening. Joe and I took a cab to the apartment complex and wound up in a room jammed full of about forty other expats. The room was split between adults and kids, all elbow to elbow on the floor with everyone's attention focused on a tiny 13-inch color monitor hooked up to this humungous tape deck contraption that looked like it was borrowed straight out of the school's AV department.

    One of the Dads was operating the machine. He fiddle with it then turned to us and half-shouted, "Is everybody ready for STAR WARS?"

    Even a too-cool-for-school teenager like me shouted, "YEAH!"

    He pushed play, and the blue letters came up.

    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

    The fanfare kicked in, and the crawl scrolled into the infinity of space. Due to the small size of the text, one of the kids up front scooched right next to the screen and hurriedly read the words to us all.

    "It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire...."

    I couldn't believe it. I was watching STAR WARS and it was BADASS. The Force was with me at last.
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