Home-Town Celebrity

Every summer, there was buzz that some of the resident celebrities would be spending their free time in the town.

I remember it was the Fourth of July, because I was especially pissed off to be working the cashier at the local grocery store on a holiday. Having to wear the button-down shirt and apron combination made the humid day most unbearable, even with air conditioner running. Beads of sweat formed along my hairline and lips. I felt sticky all over while scanning the next customer's items one by one, scowling as each item made its way to the belt.

BEEP. BEEP. I kept my eyes on the items to avoid making eye contact and consequent small talk. BEEP. BEEP. I could hear whispers and giggles behind me. BEEP. BEEP. I slowed my pace and turned around to see my co-worker, conspicuously gaping and pointing past me. BEEP. BEEP. Turning back, I finally looked in the direction of her finger.

BEEP. I froze.

As an avid Star Wars fan and all-around film geek, I would have known that face anywhere. He was too busy fiddling with his cellphone to notice me staring at his tightly curled, salt-and-peppered hair, his smooth caramel-colored skin, his wise and knowing eyes, and his toothy grin. Yes, standing in front of me was none other than the voice of Darth Vader himself, Mr. James Earl Jones.

I finished scanning and cleared my throat. He glanced up at me then, his piercing eyes the color of jewels, and I was struck by how normal he looked. Like someone's grandfather. Someone's successfully famous grandfather.

"How much do I owe you?" His deep, trademark voice momentarily left me dumb-founded, but I caught myself and answered him. He paid with a credit card. When he signed the slip, I wondered if I could possibly get away with keeping it or at least making a photocopy.

I helped him bag the groceries, realizing for the first time that he was probably preparing for a holiday party of some sort. Cups, plates, soda, hot dogs and buns, the whole nine.

He smiled at me, and I knew this was my chance. In one breath I asked him, "Could you do me a favor?"

He stopped, puzzled. "Okay," he hesitated.

I innocently smiled up at him. "Uh, could you say 'Luke, I am your father?'"

He stared at me incredulously. "No," he replied and exited the store.

Oh well, it was worth a shot.

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