Today is May 4th, otherwise known as Star Wars Day. (May the 4th be with you!) It also happens to be my birthday. But I wasn’t just born on Star Wars Day; I was born specifically on May 4, 1977, the same month and year that the original “Star Wars” was released in theaters. In other words, this is the most “Star Wars” birthday you can possibly have. As of now, I only know of one other person who shares this exact birthday (year and all), and she’s a celebrity, of sorts: the actress Emily Perkins, who starred as Brigitte in the “Ginger Snaps” Canadian horror film trilogy, but you may know her better as the “punk receptionist” from the massive hit “Juno.” (She’s the one who said candy-flavored condoms made her “boyfriend’s junk smell like pie.”)
I suppose there are worst films to be tied to. I’m grateful I wasn’t born on Rex Manning Day, because I’ve always found “Empire Records” overrated (there’s basically no story, and it’s nowhere near as amusing as it thinks it is), though I love and own its soundtrack and adore director Allan Moyle’s earlier movie, “Pump Up the Volume.”
But lucky for me, I’ve always been a huge “Star Wars” nerd, well before my birthday became its namesake’s holiday. Go ahead and ask me: “How much of a ‘Star Wars’ nerd were you?” I’m such a dork, I wore a “Star Wars” T-shirt to my SATs in 1994. (I guess I was hoping for a little Force-fueled fortune on my college entrance exams.) Keep in mind that this was over a decade after the previous “Star Wars” movie, “Return of the Jedi,” and half a decade before the first, dreadful prequel, “The Phantom Menace,” so the pop-culture zeitgeist was definitely in a “Star Wars” desert at the time.
Growing up, I played with my Kenner “Star Wars” dolls until they fell apart and used to watch the original movie recorded off T.V. on a VHS tape with my brother so many times, we literally wore it out. Also, going to see “Return of the Jedi” in theaters with my family was a day I will always cherish. (The speeder-bike chase scene blew my six-year-old mind and maybe planted the seeds for the bike chase scenes in Danger Peak.) “Jedi” was the only film in the original trilogy I saw in the theaters since I was too young when the first two came out. (I’m not counting the re-releases in the late ‘90s with the ill-conceived extra footage.)
In fact, if you read Danger Peak, you already know how important “Star Wars” is to me because it’s a major plot point of the book: it’s how Robert and his brother Danny bonded. They would watch the movie at home all the time and then reenact the scenes with the toys. They even had “Star Wars” sleepovers when Robert slept overnight in Danny’s room, and they pretended his bed was the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, with Robert playing Luke Skywalker and the older Danny naturally playing Han Solo. It should come as no surprise, especially to those who know me, that these details were based off my relationship with my late brother.
To be honest, it was weird seeing my birthday become a national holiday over the years. I used to love my birthday precisely because it was far, far away (see what I did there?) from any other holiday. My childhood friend Chris was born on Christmas (now you know how he got his name), and, while handing him a present, his cheap family members used to tell him that day, “This is your birthday gift and your Christmas gift.” Since my birthday is nearly half a year past Christmas, I didn’t have to worry about an overabundance of gifts around the same time with a dearth of the same the rest of the year. (The same can’t be said for my older daughter who was born in December; she’s reaching the age when she’s just figuring this unfortunate detail out.)
Then one year I realized my birthday is actually close to a holiday: Mother’s Day. I learned this the hard way when my family decided to celebrate my birthday and Mother’s Day on the same day. I’ll never forget my Grandma calling over her shoulder just as she was leaving my house that night, “Oh yeah, and happy birthday, Michael,” as if it was an afterthought.
Then I figured out that there’s yet another holiday even closer to my birthday: Cinco de Mayo, the day after my special day. Truth be told, this day was never important growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but in the 2000s, it suddenly became a big deal. Around the same time, it also became tradition to throw a giant sombrero on my head and cart me off to the Mexican restaurant Don Ricardo’s near my home for dinner and sangria on my birthday. Sadly, the place has since closed, and that tradition ended.
Finally, there came a day when I realized my birthday is a holiday. Just after I joined Facebook in (I think) 2008, someone sent me a meme on my wall on my birthday. It was Yoda saying, “May the 4th be with you!” I remember thinking how considerate and clever that person was. I foolishly thought he came up with the idea and specifically created this catchphrase just for me and my birthday. (I didn’t even really know what a meme was at the time.) Then dozens more people started sending me similar messages with different “Star Wars” characters but the same catchphrase. I quickly Googled the phrase and discovered the holy day of Star Wars Day—even more important than the Wookiees’ Life Day—on May 4th, my birthday. I remember initially being bummed that my birthday wasn’t special anymore, but if I had to choose one film series to be connected to, they couldn’t have picked a better one.
I’m not going to fight it anymore; I plan to embrace Star Wars Day, and to prove it, I’m going to give all of you a gift. This Saturday, May 6th, you can download a Kindle copy of my book Danger Peak from Amazon for FREE. You read that correctly. If you’ve been putting off picking up a copy of my book, now there’s no excuse. This will be for a very limited time (only one day), so get it while you can. (Looks like I buried the lede here, but for those who stuck through this whole blog until the end, here’s your reward.) Happy Star Wars Day, and May the 4th Be With You!
Updated to add Kindle link:
P.S.: Next week’s blog: The Beta Testing of My New Novel Is Almost Done
P.P.S.: Danger Peak is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble (and the eBook will be free on May 6th!):