Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Krieg der Sterne: Bring on the Invisible Alien Saxophones

My family moved into a new school district the summer before I started first grade, and I missed the first day of school with a raging case of hay fever.

Mike D. was one of the first friends I made that fall.

Sometimes our parents would send notes to school and let us ride the bus to each other’s house. Mike was the only other kid I knew who was really as into Star Wars as I was. I was insanely jealous because his dad had brought him some Star Wars trading cards back from a trip to Germany, and they were these cool glossy things, like playing cards, and they came in a pack of 50 or so, not like the flimsy cardboard Topps cards I collected in packs of less than a dozen.

Mike’s parents had a stereo with a record player, and they’d gotten him the 45 rpm single of the Star Wars theme (disco rendition), which we thought was particularly awesome because it included laser sound effects. The flip side was the Cantina band theme, similarly rendered. His mom had some friends over once, and while they were sitting in the family room, we put the Cantina music on and paraded through the house playing invisible alien saxophones.

– from Chapter 2 of Collect All 21!

Mike played a role in a lot of my early Star Wars memories: Running around his yard and porch, Kenner spaceships in hand; scrambling through the house with our fingers formed into laser pistols. When we were older, he actually gave me the Ralph McQuarrie Star Wars Portfolio he’d kept since childhood, and which still bore pencil indentations from the afternoons we spent tracing the pictures.

A couple months back, I talked to Mike for the first time in about 20 years – 30-plus years after the year we met – because I wanted to share the book with him.

Not long after, a thick envelope for me arrived in our mailbox. I didn’t recognize the return address.

Inside, there was no note. Just a small packet of something wrapped incredibly neatly and precisely in smooth, featureless light gray paper.

When I opened that packet, I saw this –


and I got a gut thrum and a grin like you wouldn’t believe. I was seven years old again for a heartbeat or two.

Funny thing: As it turns out, these are, in fact, playing cards.
Some kind of rummy-ish game, I think. I’ve posted the whole set in a slideshow here.

So I removed the single flat rubber band and started thumbing through the stack and they were almost exactly as I remembered: Colorful and strange and foreign and –

– a note, stuck in the middle of the pile, sized just so as not to be discovered too early: Written in the top left corner, “These were my sister’s cards.” And then, in the lower right, leaving the middle blank just the way you do when you’re creating the pause before a dry punchline, “I’m not that generous!”

– and I laughed out loud, then called Mike to say thanks.

November 9, 2008 - Posted by | Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction, writing | , , , ,


  1. […] afternoon led to this surprise not long afterward, and another geeky phone call, which was the last time I spoke with […]

    Pingback by About Mike « Cornfield Meet | October 7, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] of my favorite Star Wars-era McQuarrie paintings is from The Star Wars Portfolio, which my friend Mike had. It was also reproduced on a set of German Star Wars […]

    Pingback by Remembering Ralph McQuarrie: 1929-2012 « Cornfield Meet | March 4, 2012 | Reply

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