"Go get the door, John..."
Assuming it was another party guest, some cousin or playmate with a present in tow, I was happy to oblige. But it wasn't just some kid at the door. It was DARTH VADER, Dark Lord of the Sith, and to my just-turned-five-years-old self it may as well have been the Devil himself looming like a black spectre of death in my grandparents' carport.
There's a picture of me, somewhere in my mother's things, with both legs off the ground, running to the nearest bedroom, away from Darth Vader. I'm about a foot off of the carpet, defying gravity, literally sprinting through the air as I left the entire fate of my partygoers at the cruel hands of the Empire. I was terrified.
Mom dug a couple of pictures out and posted them on Facebook recently, and I'm glad she did. It's one of my favorite moments from my childhood, and it makes me reflect on how kids' brains work in regards to separating fact from fiction. I knew it couldn't possibly be the real Darth Vader, because he wasn't a real person, and yet, there he was, at my fifth birthday party. As I hid in my grandmother's room, I knew in my heart that there was an everyday man in that costume, but there was still a big enough part of me that was incredibly cautious as well, because what if he did turn out to be the real Darth Vader? What then? Would my plastic lightsaber (with three changing colors!) be enough for a one-on-one duel? I needed to be prepared.