You always remember your first. Just ask writer Vito Delsante.
— Carrie Fisher dies at 60. Click here.
— For a special 13 COVERS remembrance: Click here.
— A story for the ages: Columnist Christy Blanch writes about meeting her hero Carrie Fisher — and how the actress more than lived up to the hype. Click here.
By VITO DELSANTE
What I am about to say is not special, nor does it make me special for saying it. There’s a good chance that this is, at best, a typical sentiment, but here it goes…
Carrie Fisher was my first love.
And again, if you take 10 men, maybe even put three women in there, all around the same age as me, across different racial and socioeconomic ranges, 90 percent will probably say, “Me too.” Carrie, and by extension Princess Leia, was our first crush. Our first inclination toward someone of the opposite (or same) sex. But when I tell you I loved her, I’m not sure you understand that I mean I LOVED her.
Return of the Jedi came out in 1983. I was 10. (And no, don’t jump ahead… this has nothing to do with the bikini.) I was 4 in ’77 for Star Wars. I was 7 in 1980 for Empire. For me, Han Solo was the be-all/end-all of masculinity. His swagger, his cockiness. He represented a lot of who I wanted to be, and if I’m being completely honest, it was because I saw a lot of my dad in that character. So, therefore, if he loved Leia, then I had to love Leia. At seven years old, I wasn’t quite sure what any of that meant.
By 10, though…
By then, I’d my first, uh, boy-girl awareness. Her name was Cassandra Petersen, but you know her as Elvira. She had appeared on the show Real People, and … let’s just say I was aware of our differences in anatomy and understood lust, and keep it at that.
So, here comes Jedi and I’m a few weeks away from turning 10 when it comes out. I see it with my father (my actual father, not Han Solo) and my grandfather. And as exciting as it was, I felt something different. Not lust, as you would think and maybe expect. Again, it wasn’t the bikini. It was the Endor long hair and braids. It was the pre-Endor Mon Mothma outfit (seen at the top). It was everything BUT the bikini (and no, I’m not immune to the bikini, but I preferred my Leia a different way). I felt desire and longing. It pained me to leave the theater.
I felt love.
And it wasn’t for Leia; Leia wasn’t real.
This is embarrassing to admit, but I would literally serenade a Topps Star Wars sticker that was a headshot of Carrie with those braids. I was head over heels for her. I wanted to grow up, Tom Hanks in Big-style, and somehow woo her. I was heartbroken…HEARTBROKEN…when she married Paul Simon. He wasn’t good enough for her in my eyes. I cried, I’m sure, a few times.
Turns out, that wouldn’t be the last time I cried over Carrie Fisher.
I know, now, that what I felt for her wasn’t true love, but then again my wife, Michelle, and Carrie have a lot of similar traits. I know: Of course they do. But if you put D&D stats for both on paper, I think you’d find a lot more similarities than you’d think.
Interesting postscript. Seeing The Force Awakens last year, and seeing Carrie on screen again, I felt that part of my heart, that 10-year-old boy’s love for a woman he couldn’t possibly be in love with. I felt that warmth and that familiarity again. It felt like seeing an ex whom you had fond memories of. You’d walk by each other, after years apart, your eyes would catch and you’d both nod. No words need be spoken. You both know.
I can’t imagine, if I had the chance, that I’d have the ability to explain this to her. I can’t imagine the funny off-color thing she’d say in response.
She will always be in my heart. It’s stupid to say, because this all sounds like the rantings of a fan, but in the end, on December 27, my 10-year-old heart will always ache for the woman, the actress, the author …
And the princess.
Love you, Carrie. May the Force be with you … always.
Vito Delsante is the writer and co-creator of Stray from Action Lab.