When I was just a child, my aunt Barbara came to my grandma's house, crying (this was August 1977). Grandma comforted her, and all I got was that my aunt was upset.
When she left, I asked what was going on. "Oh, Elvis died," my grandmother told me. "He was Barbara's first love."
I interpreted that as an old boyfriend of my aunt's dying, until my mother explained it to me that Elvis was a singer, someone my aunt had never even met. Now I was really confused, but I never forgot that day (for some reason), though I didn't understand it.
Today, I understand. Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia Organa is gone. And it struck me hard--harder than it should have maybe, to hear of her death at only age sixty.
Except for some girl I saw on a Burger King commercial, and then got all weird in my stomach, Princess Leia was my first crush. When Luke Skywalker saw her hologram and said, "Who is she? She's beautiful!" I took note and said, "Okay, now I know what beautiful is. If I'm going to pass for human, I'd better pay attention."
One of the many times I was watching STAR WARS, my dad was on the couch with his newspaper. THAT's the girl you like so much?" he asked (he had seen the movie when it first came out, and hadn't bothered to take me, which I always regretted, even if he didn't). "She's pretty homely."
That was the first time I remember hearing that word, and I always think of him saying it in the scant occasions I hear it said. But to me, Princess Leia wasn't at all homely. To you either, I'll wager.
No, I'd guess that with her world gone, so would any title associated with it. Sigh.
I didn't mention the slave bikini in JEDI. I think I was just too young for that to make as much of an impression on me.* Oh, I would later, sure, think that was the bee's knees, but even then, it was relegated to gawking at young women cosplaying the outfit. Princess Leia was sacred.
Of course, Carrie Fisher wasn't just Princess Leia. She appeared in THE BLUES BROTHERS, SHAMPOO, THE 'BURBS, AUSTIN POWERS, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY..., one of the SCREAM sequels (I think 3), HANNAH & HER SISTERS, UNDER THE RAINBOW, and JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK. And those are just the ones that immediately come to mind.
I never read any of her books, but she was hilarious in interviews, and I fully expect the books to be sharp and entertaining. The last one was called "The Princess Diarist," and yeah, I think I'll pick it up.
This is a pic I took of myself when it was announced that Disney would no longer allow "Slave Leia" merchandise to be sold. I self-took a bunch while wiggling my finger, thinking I could make a gif of it. But I never did (big surprise).
Speaking of which, I always intended to write a Princess Leia fanfiction story about how she was a young Senator from Alderaan and came to understand just how corrupt the Empire was, ultimately joining the Rebel Alliance, only to discover that her father was already a part of it. But I never did.
Maybe I will now.
Unlike my Aunt Barbara, I actually met Carrie Fisher once. It was at the Star Wars Celebration 2 in Indianapolis. They had a big signing room for all the SW celebrities, and the lines ranged from zero to about fifteen minutes. I stood in Fisher's line for about two and a half hours. When I got up to the front, I expected her to be grouchy and frustrated from all the mouth-breathers* wanting her to autograph metal bikini pictures.
But I was surprised when she thanked ME for waiting so long just to meet her, and was funny and cordial. She looked at the photo I had her sign (Leia with the bun hairdo) and said, "I don't know who this was, but I'll sign it anyway." Sure, she had probably said that a hundred other times that day, but I appreciated the hell out of it.
No go. My buddy Big texted me at 11:05am on December 27th, saying "Carrie Fisher didn't make it after all." He works for the news, and let me know first.
I took it surprisingly badly. I started writing this post then, then when I lost it, I wasn't willing to do it all again.
Most disturbingly, Carrie's death was announced with reports of the hospitalization of her mother almost immediately after. Debbie Reynolds too passed away a day later, which is a sad confluence of events.
Death is inevitable, I understand that. But 2016 really dished it out. And Princess Leia really meant a lot to me, and to a lot of folks from my generation. It was really cool to hear other folks talk about what Leia/Fisher meant to them, and I look forward to talking to someone who was a young girl, and saw her as a role model, becoming an actress, a freedom fighter, a soldier, or royalty later on because of that influence.
We've still got one more Star Wars movie with her in it to look forward to, and I wonder what that will be like. It can't help but paint your response to the film, in the same way that THE DARK KNIGHT did with Heath Ledger or THE CROW with Brandon Lee or (apparently) the last FAST & FURIOUS flick after Paul Walker died. To see General Leia in, hopefully, a larger role than we did in the last one would be a treat.
I was probably going to see "Episode VIII" anyway, but . . .
So, here's to Princess Leia. She truly belongs with us among the clouds.
Rish Outfield, Scruffy-Looking Nerf Herder
*That reminds me: I spoke to Warwick Davis once about whether he was intimidated working with Fisher in his scenes, her being hot and all, and he seemed to think that was funny. "I was eleven years old," he said, laughing. That was older than I was, but okay.
**Which, technically, I am, no confusion about that.
P.S. Here's Carrie Fisher one more time, summing up my feelings about 2016: