When we were kids, my brother and I used to have semi-imaginary lightsaber fights. Basically we had some extra PVC pipe lying around that we fashioned into suitable hilts, and then we imagined the blades (complete with the swooshing hum sounds).
We grew up in the Before Times, when phone calls and internet signals drove the same lanes (meaning you could either talk to Granny on the phone or send your cousin an email- but not both at the same time), when video games only worked on channel 3, when high speed VHS rewinders were a luxurious commodity, and Outside was more a second bedroom than external extension to your square footage.
In these Before Times, our front yard was much larger than our backyard, and it was there that we would engage in our hours long duels, rolling across the grass, sprinting down the driveway, and trying not to accidentally cause a discernible scratch on one of our parents’ cars. Even though Dad was usually the one who sent us outside, and his room was alllll the way at the other end of the house, he somehow immediately knew to magically appear when we made a critical error (nothing like the pulse pounding heart attack of Dad showing up before you’ve even had time to coordinate a cover story).
The punishment was likely to be more Outside time- this go around without our nifty PVC lightsaber hilts more than likely.
But yet and still we managed to have a blast. We sweated so hard we almost couldn’t feel the itchiness from the grass anymore, and after we yelled ourselves hoarse-
“I cut off your leg!”
“You got one hand now!”
“I switched hands!”
“Mine is double sided!”
“I used the Force!”
-we quenched our thirsts with good ol’ fashioned water straight from the water hose (letting all that hot water run out first if it was summer time of course). These weren’t necessarily amazing times, but they were our times nonetheless and we are immensely grateful for them.
Perhaps one of the best parts of the PVC Lightsaber Duels was the fact that we got all our friends to buy into our imaginary realm. Picture it. 5 or 6 little black boys from ages 9-13, running around whooping and hollering talmbout some Force push and dismemberment with imaginary blades. Hopping the front fence of our house, parrying, doing amazing (in our minds) acrobatic dodges, before sprinting or leaping back into the yard proper.
Sweat pouring down our faces, serious in that hilarious way only earnest children totally caught up in the throes of their imagination could be, knowing it was kill or be killed. Jedi vs Jedi vs Sith vs the occasional General Grievous (my childhood best friend was wild! Who wants to be Grievous??? He doesn’t even have the Force!! That fool just wanted to get away with having extra arms and lightsabers. Anyway I digress…).
The only thing that ever slowed our playing was the casual cruise of a police car, rolling ominously by on patrol. At the time I wasn’t quite sure why we did it. We had all received the cop talk of course-
“If an officer pulls you over or stops you on the street, make sure you obey, use yes sir no sir, don’t back talk, and don’t make any sudden movements or else you could get shot…”
– but the cop talk didn’t have any at home addendums for playing with your friends or simply existing in your bliss.
At least ours never did at the time.I received the cop talk at 9.Which means my brother received it at 7.
The only thing that ever paused the game was when they would roll by like tumbleweed through the dry lands, heads on the swivel. We would instantly pause the game. Move slowly. Possibly even wave. That would be the time we opted for a water break or a resting period. Some precognition took over our bodies where we knew not to exist as our full selves in front of the police; even if we were in our own yard. Even though we were children. Even though we were playing a harmless game of pretend, where the highest stake was a bruised cheek from a poorly ducked invisible saber strike, knuckles too close to the face.
Again, the cop talk does not dictate we take this precaution.
I don’t quite know why we did.
It’s possible that some survival instincts transcend age.
Sometimes survival bubbles up from one’s spirit.
And deep down we all somehow knew the truth…
It was kill or be killed.
And we weren’t killers.