By Katie Havard, 15, Beverly Hills HS
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Only those with enough midichlorians can see that Katie is truly a gifted padawan. Photos by Katie Havard, 15, Beverly Hills HS

If you ever have the honor of seeing my father’s car, you’ll realize that Star Wars love runs in my family. This Nissan Maxima is adorned with a bumper sticker reading “my other transport is the Millennium Falcon.” I have loved the trilogy since I was a little padawan. And after I heard about the dedicated and awesome fans who camped out at the theater for the re-releases of the original trilogy in the early 90s, I’ve wanted to join their ranks. However, I’ve always been too young. I was a little girl in third grade in Woodstock, Georgia, when Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out. Whilst eating fruit snacks shaped like Queen Amidala and Jar Jar Binks I first presented the idea of camping out for the first showing of the new Star Wars movie (a.k.a. the midnight showing). Of course, my parents refused because I was too young. And again, when Episode II: Attack of the Clones, came out, I was still too young (sixth grade). But I struck a deal with my parental units: “When Episode III comes out, I’ll be in ninth grade. High school! Promise me you’ll let me camp out.” And so they did. Three years and a move to Los Angeles later, I stand before you today (May 18). Well, I sit in line at the theater before you.

My aim is to do updates every hour until 11 p.m. By then, the impending Star Wars-y excitement will have addled my brains to the point of frenzy and the only words you will be able to get out of me will be “YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE, ANAKIN!’

1 p.m. I arrive at Century City AMC movie theaters and stake out my spot in line behind five other people—some teenage boys doing homework and two college guys who look like they’ve been here for a month (which is actually a possibility). They’ve got lawn chairs and a radio and a massive cooler of food.

My friends are set to show up in about two hours. Until then, I settle in, take out a pillow, a giant plastic lightsaber (its blue, like Luke’s in Episode 4) and my iPod. Thank goodness the line rests in the shadow of the theater; it’s hot outside!

2 p.m. The movie theater people are being really nice. As a special deal for Star Wars, bottled drinks, hotdogs, and popcorn are on sale for a dollar each. We don’t even have to get out of line, the people who work at the theater take our orders and bring our orders right to us. I get a hot dog. Sweet, no? Well, my butt is falling asleep and so I believe it is time for a little walk. The three guys behind me agree to save my spot and watch my stuff. One thing you can say for nerds: We look out for our own.

2:30 p.m. The guy next to me has been singing along to Ciara’s “My Goodies” for the past 20 minutes or so, over and over. He’s lucky that my lightsaber doesn’t really emit a solid beam of energy—I’m ready to go Obi-Wan and slice off an arm like in A New Hope. (You know, the scene where they’re in the Cantina and the guy hassles Luke and Obi Wan just WAILS on him with a lightsaber and chops the thug’s arm RIGHT OFF.) For reasons beyond my control, my iPod has decided to freeze up and die. Now I have no music—the next nine hours and 30 minutes are looking bleak. Fortunately, my boyfriend, Alex, is on his way with a portable DVD player. Yay!

So far the line is only about 10 people. One of the nerds (at times like these “nerd” is hardly an insult. It is a label worn with as much pride as the Rebel Alliance stickers and Darth Vader masks) asks “The line’s a little small, eh?” When I nod he says, “This is what we get for not camping out at a cool theater.”

He has a point. People have been lining up in Westwood, at the Chinese theater in Hollywood and the Arclight for a few months now. Nerds like me, who have lame obligations such as “school” to prevent us from truly camping out for more than a day, look upon those who go the distance and wait for weeks as the nerd elite. Or as we say on the Internet “t3h 1337.” 1337 (pronounced “leet”) is an Internet language where letters are replaced with numbers (1= L 2=R 3=E etc). If I could I would be out there among my brethren—30-something bald men who live in their parents’ basements eating Hot Pockets and getting the high score in “World Of Warcraft.”

So far only one of these basement-dwellers inhabit the line—right now it’s mostly teenage boys on PSPs and Gameboys. I’m the only girl right now, but that will change once my friends arrive. We talk, but not much. However, the day is early.

Katie's boyfriend, Alex Kessler, wants us all to live long and prosper. Apparently, he forgot which sci-fi movie he was attending.

3 p.m. Alex has shown up, and so has my friend Andrea. We’re watching Episode I: The Phantom Menace on the DVD player, but fast-forwarding through most of the Jar Jar Binks scenes. Jar Jar was supposed to be the prequels’ answer to Chewbacca—the animal-y sidekick—but he falls very, very short of George Lucas’s standard of “awesome.” He’s annoying and not in a good way. (An example of “annoying in a good way” is Threepio. His annoying-ness prompts awesome lines like, Han Solo going “Either shut him up or shut him down!”) The theater is giving away free chocolate bars and bottled water. The line is steadily growing.

4 p.m. Andrea braids my hair into pseudo-Princess Leia buns. They are pretty awesome but fall out after a few minutes. When it gets colder, I’ll put my Star Wars shirt (it’s got the New Hope poster on it) over my tank top—as of now, it’s too hot to wear black. I’m melting! But happy. The theater has also bestowed on us cheap parking vouchers. We only have to pay 15 bucks as opposed to like, a million. This makes Alex very happy because parking at Century City for twelve hours would normally be very, very expensive. We finish Episode I and break out Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Hayden Christensen who plays Anakin Skywalker, how we adore thee, as long as you aren’t talking. (He may be good at glaring evilly, but he can’t act to save his life. His angst just comes off as “whiny.” Do you think he passed down the whiny gene to Luke? Because I do.)

4:23 p.m. The Jedi need better pickup lines. “I hate sand … It’s coarse and rough and it gets everywhere … not like you … ” Please, Anakin. Even if you are gorgeous, you’re going to need to work on those lines before we let you take us out on your speeder.

Katie's friends Molly and Alex battle to see who is the Chosen One.

5 p.m. With the arrival of Molly, all my friends have shown up. Two words: Lightsaber battles. It’s on like Donkey Kong. The line has stretched around the corner to the balcony above the Outback Steakhouse. Everyone but me seems to favor red lightsabers. The battles get surprisingly rowdy. If we were using REAL lightsabers, well, some people would be left without a few limbs.

6 p.m. Molly, Andrea, and I take a walk and find ourselves in Sephora, the makeup store, where we liberally apply Episode I Queen Amidala makeup—fire-engine-red lips with a line down the middle, a red dot on each cheek. We don’t go with the pale white, so that the Sephora clerks don’t accuse us of abusing the testers. We go to the bookstore and buy a Star Wars coloring book. Inside every Star Wars nerd beats the heart of a 5-year-old.

7 p.m. Alex and I bought our tickets way in advance, a few weeks ago. Molly and Andrea (and her uncle) bought them later, and for the wrong theater! Same building, same time, but theater 3 instead of 4. They are letting theater 4 in early. Andrea has to stay with her uncle, but with a little secret-agent action we do a quick Jedi bait-and-switch with the tickets and Molly makes it inside. (Alex and I went in with the tickets and Molly ran around to the side door, where I met her and handed her my ticket.) But really, they wouldn’t have noticed. Nobody questions a chick with Star Wars face paint.

8 p.m. It’s dark (we can’t see our Star Wars coloring book) in the theater, so Molly and I go to the front desk and wave our hands in front of the clerk’s face, Jedi hand wave style.

“You want to turn the lights on,” we say in our smoothest Obi-Wan Kenobi impersonation.

The management is thoroughly weirded out. I recount our exploits—trying a “Jedi mind trick” on the management—to Alex back inside the theater and just as I do a Jedi-hand-wave again the lights go on. The guy behind us stares at us with amazement.

I see a few guys from my track team and I run into my ex-boyfriend. The dark side, I tell Molly, is strong with him. We pick up more free stuff from the theater, including fabulous lightsaber spoons that glow red. Amazing. Hah. They give us medallions engraved with “waiting in line shows your devotion to the force.”

What a wookie! Everyone Star Wars fan knows that the only animal-like character who has a place in our hearts is Chewbacca.

9 p.m. Epic lightsaber battles abound. Molly, who takes fencing lessons, severely owns anyone who dares cross her path. They fight in the aisles and people cheer them on. Molly is blue, the opponents are usually red. Alex starts an inflatable Star Wars beachball bouncing around the crowd, like you’d see at a concert. The theater smells like spilled Slushies and popcorn.

10 p.m. A man dressed as Chewbacca (fur from head to toe) earns a standing ovation as he enters the theater. I get into an argument with some guy that sits in the row behind us about the Empire Strikes Back’s ultimate superiority over the Return of the Jedi (Ewoks? Give me a break, they’re MUPPETS.) My brain begins to hurt from conversations about “Hayden Christiansen’s choice of hairstyle as a symbol of transition.” This comes from a 30-something man with a beard sitting in the row in front of us. He’s definitely the “living in my parents’ basement” type.

Molly, Alex, and I make friends with the nerdlings around us. We mock the cheesiest lines from Episode II: the “sand” pickup line, “I slaughtered them- like ANIMALS!” Someone shouts “TWO HOURS LEFT!” and the nerdlings all burst into applause. (We are an easily amused bunch.) The screen turns on, we roar again. It’s a commercial. Like I said, easily amused.

11 p.m. ONLY ONE HOUR LEFT! ONE HOUR! OH MY GOD! I can’t concentrate on anything but the impending greatness.

Midnight The Lucasfilm logo brings tears to my eyes. Here we go: LORD VADER? YES MASTER. RISSSSSSSSE.