Every once in a while some viral video hits and you hit play and play and play to the point you may crash YouTube's server. The Susan Boyle video did it for me when I first saw it, as I emphathized with this "past her prime" looking former-lass. Guys skateboarding off cliffs and piano playing dogs... you can watch them and go numb. But my latest love is nothing "accidental" or homemade. In fact it's quite deliberate. It's the Darth Vader Volkswagen SuperBowl commercial. If you've been under a rock and haven't seen it (or are one of the deprived masses who saw only the 30 sec mini version) here ya go. I love this. I crack up each time. I'm kind of mesmerized by it. I went out and bought a Passat. Really. (Ok, I actually bought it 3 weeks before the ad, so I'm not fully insane.)
What sets this apart for me (beyond Tucker the piano-playing pooch, talented as he may be), is that this spot is SO spot on. Every one I know who has seen this and has sons, brothers, or nephews etc cracks up because we've all seen this in our lives. I can not count the number of times I've walked down to find Son1 sitting in his Darth Vader helmet playing video games, watching TV, or texting people. Yes, I said texting... because though on the edge of 13, he STILL loves to sport the Vader-wear. Son2 is partial to a clone trooper helmet though has been known to work his inner Vader, voice distortion and all.
You have not lived until you've watched (undetected) children totally succumb to their own imaginations. They'll do it in backyards, in playrooms, and in any public place to which you drag them.You smile at the creativity, wince at the hazards, and feel a bit envious that it's no longer socially acceptable for you to waltz around Costco as if the leader of the Dark Side. Or Sabrina Duncan or Kelly Garrett. Who's getting 16 cheescake samples now, Mr. Costco dude? That's what I'm talking 'bout.
Like in the commercial, kids do leverage family pets as props, straight men, and accomplices. Over the years, our family has seen dogs and cats dressed up, coerced, cajoled, sat upon, WWE body-slammed, and even stuffed in a lunch box. Man oh man, of all the times for the lunch box latch to get stuck. Poor Patches, once sprung, wanted no human contact for weeks... but I digress.
As in the commercial, kids will expect you to understand when they have assumed a new identity. You are not to question the moral character of their choice, or how well said character may assimilate into the neighborhood or corps of altar boys.You are not to blink an eye when Lord Vader joins the table, sitting where your 8yr old usually does. You may be puzzled how he will eat with the helmet on. Did Darth actually consume food or drink? This was never addressed in movies. It's been addressed by cases of Clorox wipes in our house.
There's another aspect to the Darth Vader commercial fixation that I'm beginning to see though. While Son1 will still escape into his imagination and drag Son2 with him (without a choice since he'll be in a headlock), it is a fleeting time in their lives. Sitting here trying to remember if the much-beloved-MUST-wear red Aeropostale shirt is clean for tonight's middle school Valentine's Dance, I can see this phase will be passing soon in our home. I'm becoming more and more aware of this. When fully garbed, my Dark Lords tower over the commercial one by a good foot. They still love the trappings of the costumes but their sense of reality is creeping in to the scene, unlike the little boy awed by his own car starting powers.
I'm probably closer than I realize to owning a home in which the light sabers have all been extinguished. So I guess for this weekend, I'll embrace the imaginary worlds that still swirl in our playroom and try not to let the volume fracture my sanity. And then in a quiet post-bedtime moment, I'll sneak back on YouTube for the Volkswagen deleted-scene clips, then sit back and think about all the treats my poor Ewoks/dogs have earned over the years. It's going to be a big weekend at PetSmart.