When I came in, I sat down to buy tickets to the new Star Wars movie; I think we’ll all go see Revenge of the Sith Sunday night when Biggest Guy is back from Virginia.
And I was hit by a kind of Proustian wave of remembrance and melancholy for an old friend.
I saw the first Star Wars movie at a sneak preview, at the Coronet Theater in San Francisco. I was in grad school in Berkeley, and went with my housemate, Howard Gong, and my college friend Jan. We drove Jan’s Rabbit across the Bay Bridge against weekday traffic, as I tried to convince them that the trip was worth it, that a science-fiction movie by the guy who’d done THX1138 and American Graffiti had to be worth seeing.
We got to the theatre early, the line wasn’t too bad, and soon we were seated.
And shortly after that, we were blown away. I remember the crowd booing when Darth Vader made his appearance, striding through the clouds of steam, and the movie had us all from that point on.We started to drive back and the throttle cable on Jan’s car broke. I set the idle to 3,000 rpms and drove back slipping the clutch.
Howard died a few years ago; he needed a marrow transplant, and as an Asian, had no luck finding a donor for two years. He finally had a transplant, and got another year – besweatered, slippering around his house and children – before graft v. host killed him.
I miss him terribly, and I’ll think about him in the theater this weekend.
Life balances the good and the bad; I lost Howard, but kept Jan as a dear friend. And then she came to my wedding…
Because I can’t help myself, I’ll ask all my readers – particularly if you are Asian or another racial minority – to please go get registered in the bone marrow database. There are more Howards out there, and they have husbands, wives, children, and friends who will miss them if you don’t help.
Think of it as an additional wedding gift for Joe and Jan.