The movie theater sat in the distance, a short walk in a parking lot littered with cars that were mostly better than mine. They were obviously owned by high school students.

The movie theater sat in the distance, a short walk in a parking lot littered with cars that were mostly better than mine. They were obviously owned by high school students. My wife and I were going to see a movie, a rare venture out into the world of current popular culture. As we neared the front doors, I told my wife I had to use the bathroom.

“Again?” she asked. “You went before we left home.”

Yes, I did. Be she didn’t understand. She couldn’t understand.

In my youth, the experience of walking into a dusty, one-screen theater lobby, smelling the popcorn, seeing cardboard cutouts of intelligent chimpanzees holding M-16s, and once meeting a kid wearing a Capt. Kirk T-shirt, made every trip to the movies an Oscar party.

Until 1983, when a large Coke ruined my movie experience forever.

“I gotta pee,” I told my wife as we stood in the candy counter line.

“Jason,” she said. “I just watched you walk out of the restroom.”

If she thought during the moments between entry and exit I took care of business, she was right. It didn’t matter. I had to go.

“I’ll be back in a minute,” I said. “And just popcorn. No soda.”

I was 17 in 1983, in the prime age of “Star Wars” insanity. My parents took me to see “Star Wars” and “The Empire Strikes Back” at the theater and when “Return of the Jedi” came out, I was old enough to drive myself. I did, and took some friends I would soon hold in life-long contempt because they let me order a large Coke and mocked me for it all the way home.

An hour and 40 minutes into the movie while the Ewoks were doing something cutesy I had to go to the bathroom, so I did. When I returned to my seat, I asked my friend David what I’d missed.

“Nothing important,” he said. “Luke just defeated Darth Vader in a fierce lightsaber battle then, while the Emperor tortured Luke with Dark Side power, Darth Vader threw the Emperor into a bottomless pit. You know, since Darth Vader is Luke’s dad, it was nice to see him finally embrace his parenting duties.”

Huh? I missed the moment – THE climactic moment – that George Lucas had been building up to for six years? I sat back in disbelief, cursing the Ewoks and their cutesy (insert colorful expletive).

 Going to the movies has never been the same. Instead of thrill, I feel trepidation. I missed the pivotal moment of the entire “Star Wars” franchise just because I couldn’t hold my soda. If I’d lived in an earlier age, I would have missed Rhett telling Scarlett, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn,” and Moses telling Ramses, “let my people go.”

Because of “Return of the Jedi,” I will never miss another important movie moment again. As we sat in the theater waiting for our movie to begin, I told my wife about the Return of the Soda. The look on my face made the story epic.

My wife laughed.

The previews started rolling.

“I gotta pee,” I told my wife. This time she just let me go.



Jason’s latest book, “What Lurks Beyond: The Paranormal in Your Backyard,” is available at amazon.com.