Seven year old Eddy’s older brother Mel had a best friend named Hank. Hank was the kind of guy who thrived on teasing little kids. Eddy had Hank’s sister Jenny in class. She had sad eyes and never talked to anyone. “The effects of Hank’s cruelty?” Eddy wondered.
Eddy’s dad owned a business and was never home. His mom worked two part time jobs. Sometimes Eddy and his little brother Tim were left alone with Mel and Hank. Hank used Eddy and Tim to teach Mel how to do swirlies, a maneuver which consisted of sticking a licked fingered into the ear of the victim. There was the infamous melvin, or what most people referred to as a wedgie. And Hank also showed Mel the Chinese tickle torture, immobilizing Eddy or Tim by sitting on them and tickling their necks until the screamed.
For some reason they reserved the worst of it for Tim. “Maybe because he’s smaller?” Eddy thought. Tim was once wrapped in blankets and tied with cord before being stuffed under a coffee table. There was the time Hank and Mel held Tim down and dropped a small frog in his mouth. And the worst thing they ever did was wake him up early one morning and toss him out of the porch with his pillow and blanket, locking the door behind. His cries could be heard down the block.
When Mel wasn’t around Hank was a different person. He would invite Eddy into his inner sanctum and share music with him like Weird Al Yankovic’s “Yoda” and the B-52s’ “Rock Lobster”. Then there was the time that Mel and Hank took him to see Star Wars for the first time. They bought him popcorn and Jujubes. It was the movie that changed Eddy’s life, and his older brother had taken him to see it. Having an older brother was nothing if not unpredictable.
The year The Empire Strikes Back came out Eddy’s family moved. It was a big shock to all three boys, but Eddy seemed to take it the hardest. He was leaving behind his best friend Mitch. He was leaving behind the best teacher he ever had. He was leaving behind the girl he called his girlfriend. His life was over.
His older brother Mel was starting high school and said he didn’t have time to take Eddy to see The Empire Strikes Back even though he had promised to over a year ago. His younger brother Tim never wanted to play with him anymore. Eddy cried in his room alone. He had never felt so lonely.
A few months later, Eddy made a friend named Saul. He was a hispanic kid who had a lot of Star Wars action figures, including a Millennium Falcon and a AT-AT. Eddy began to spend the night over at his house on the weekends. Saul’s mom would make them chilaquiles, and his dad would make them work in the yard. Saul had a paper route, and for a few Sundays Eddy helped him deliver. Saul rewarded him by taking him to see The Empire Strikes Back, and it was better than Eddy had ever dreamed it would be. Even better than the first movie.
Middle school was the worst time of Eddy’s life. He was constantly bullied by kids who were bigger, meaner and uglier than he was. He did his best to try and disappear which only earned him bad grades. His mother would bug him constantly saying that she knew he could do better if he just applied himself. His younger brother Tim made his life even more miserable by digging in and taking his stuff. His older brother Mel, who was a senior in high school, did his best to cheer him up by introducing him to Monty Python and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He drove Eddy to school every day playing Psychedelic Furs. The dull drone of the leader singer’s voice filled Eddy with dread as each day became a chore.
Saul was picked on too. It didn’t help that he and Eddy read books like Splinter of the Mind’s Eye together. Or that they played Dungeons & Dragons on the weekends. Or that they read comic books like G.I. Joe and watched cartoons like He-Man.
There was one particular bully who had quite a mean streak against Saul. Petey was a short guy who overcompensated with anger. He had a big mouth and intimidated other by calling names and making threats. “Faggot! Homo!” he would call to Saul. One day Eddy had had enough. “Just leave him alone,” he said. Petey was stumped. He did not know how to respond.
For months, Eddy and Saul planned the event of seeing Return of the Jedi. When the time came, they camped over night and were tenth in line to buy tickets. But when they got into the theater, they found a horrible surprise. Petey was there with two of his friends. Eddy and Saul could think of nothing to do but run out of the theater. They had wasted their time and their money. And it would be a few weeks more before they saw the last film in the trilogy.
The movie left a bad taste in Eddy’s mouth. Partly because it was the story was now over. Probably mostly because of what had happened with Petey. Next year would be high school. Eddy’s parents were sending him to private school so he would never have to see Petey again. But of course he would never forget him.
These are the things we all remember best, the most unpleasant moments of our lives. We tend to relive them at the lowest points in our lives as if they are their to remind us of how bad things could really be. Or perhaps they are simply just part of what makes us who we are.