I just saw that today marks years since the movie Star Wars was released. I can’t BELIEVE it has been that long! I remember the first time I saw it, but not just because I loved it so much. I vividly remember the night we saw Star Wars because it was the same night my Dad barfed in a dumpster.
It was late May in 1977 and my parents had been divorced for just over a year. There was still a great deal of GUILT around the matter so my father tried to make our “Weekends With Daddy” extra special. He took us to Winston-Salem, North Carolina and rented a room at a super-fancy Hyatt. It had an indoor pool and an atrium restaurant that was the coolest thing I’d seen up to that point. Our Saturday night was going to be topped off by a trip to see Star Wars, so we were obviously losing our minds with excitement.
My Dad took us to dinner in that fancy atrium the night of the movie. My sister and I had kid-food, like hot dogs and hamburgers but my Dad decided to go fancy and ordered the Pecan Trout. We woofed down our food and drove over to the movie theater, which already had a line of people that stretched into the parking lot. My Dad was becoming increasingly distressed but I thought he was just mad about waiting in a long line. I realized that wasn’t the case when he blurted out “RIGHT BACK” dashed behind the building. Lesley and I just stared at each other, but we weren’t worried since the line was so long. SURELY Daddy would be back before we needed to buy our tickets.
The Pecan Trout had apparently gotten the better of my poor Dad, so he was throwing it up in a dumpster behind the theater. I think the line was long enough for the folks at the end to actually witness the event. The Pecan Trout wasn’t giving up, either. Every time my Dad tried to pull it together and walk away, he’d be hit by another wave and head back to the dumpster. Meanwhile, my sister and I were getting closer and closer to the ticket counter. Lesley ran to check on my Dad, who was in mid-heave but still able to pass off his wallet. It didn’t matter because she came back and found me standing beside the counter, our chance to purchase tickets long gone.
Anyone else would have packed up and driven back to the hotel but not my Dad. I remember how he was wiping his mouth as he came back to us, and how DISAPPOINTED he was. Sure, there was all the Divorced-Dad-Guilt but HE really wanted to see Star Wars, too. So we did. We hopped back in line and got our tickets. Daddy bought popcorn and Cokes for us and the World’s Largest Sprite for himself. Then we watched what is still one of my all-time-FAVORITE-movies.
We laughed as we walked out that night, and my Dad drove a few circles around the dumpster. You never would have known that he was sick just hours before, if he didn’t have a tiny bit of vomit still smeared on his shoe. That story has become part of our Family History and any food that’s questionable is now referred to as a “Pecan Trout Incident.” Yes, that Pecan Trout didn’t stay long with my Dad, but it has been with US ever since.