My Faithful Co-pilot and Companion

This post starts by going way back. We don’t often see how the things we love actually impact our day to day life. We’re not looking for reasons. Their impact is simply there, with us, a part of ourselves. If we’re lucky we become mindful of our thoughts in a way that kind of ties it all together.

I have loved the world of Star Wars for a long time now. Back in “the band” days I had my 1971 Dodge Demon. I loved that car and so did most anyone that rode in it. We could fit our guitar rigs in there PLUS the drum set. It was quite the workhorse yet, more importantly, it was big, ugly and white. This gave it the nickname of Millennium Falcon. She didn’t look like much but she had a loud, strong motor. I made many modifications to it myself, just like Han.


One mod I was particularly proud of was installing plastic racing bucket seats in the front. This allowed me to unbolt the passenger’s side seat by undoing 4 bolts whenever I needed to take on more cargo, mostly for the aforementioned band gigs. At some point I learned George Lucas was quite the hot-rodding fan. American Graffiti would have a big influence on me, further fueling my love for musclecars and big V8 motors. I was never much of a mechanic but I sure got my hands greasy back then. If only I had a hydrospanner…

The band was no longer a part of my life and the Falcon was soon gone. I hardly drove it as I had a company truck now. Selling it felt like the right thing to do. A father bought it for his young teenage son and he seemed so thrilled I hardly felt bad about it. I never lost my passion for musclecars though.

The 1970 Plymouth Barracudas and the 1970 Dodge Challengers were my top favorites. Fast forward through a whole lot of life and I was now the owner of a 2010 Plum Crazy Dodge Challenger.


Fast forward some more and I found myself in a very different place. I made some bad choices and things were pretty bad. Somehow, I eventually emerged from the chaos. Certainly I can’t discount how valuable other persons in my life were, but, I also know that my faithful companion Pepper pushed me through scores of tough days.

One day, I’m looking over at Pepper and I realize – This is it! This is my new life and this is my new and improved Millennium Falcon. It’s better than the old one. Sure, it’s not raw and loud like my 1971 but it’s simply a better car, hands down. No more scary brakes and foggy windshields. Those things are only fun in drunken memories. It’s a better life now. The best part? I have my very own Chewie! I call her Pee-a-Bacca when she’s in the car as she is part Yoda, part Chewbacca. She is always there, to my right.


I’ve always been young at heart and I find myself embracing it even more now. Go ahead and talk to yourself. Go ahead and sing. Do a funky chicken dance. Why the hell not? Rob Lowe recently did an AMA on Reddit and I really liked his words on youth.

Well, being youthful is an inside job. Think about what youth is. It’s kids, kids are enthusiastic, energetic, interested, optimistic, engaged, and curious. If you’re not all of those things, you can have no lines on your face and a 32 inch waist, and no one is going to call you youthful.

When I’m backing out of the garage with Pee-a-Bacca I pretend like I am engaging some complicated ignition sequence. It helps that the Challenger has a console mounted on the headliner. The switch to open the garage door is located there. I definitely channel Han when I push it and the “hangar door” crawls open, making its Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr noise. Then, I futz around with the diagnostic screens, checking various pressures and temperatures before backing out. Us boys love our buttons ‘n’ switches and I use as many of them as I can, as often as I can. If I’m feeling especially nerdy I look over to Pee-a-Bacca and tell her to make sure she has programmed the navi-computer. After all, we don’t want to end up in an Empire construction zone and be late for work.

When I’m working in the garage at night (probably detailing the Purple Falcon or organizing my tools) I will open the garage door and pretend it’s the Hoth hangar. Pee-a-Bacca faithfully keeps a watchful eye for Wampas in the alley.


As the night progresses I have to break the news to her, “Sorry Pee-a…we have to close the shield doors now.” She looks on with resignation moments before I hit the switch.


I seem to recall the Buddhist philosophy being an influence for George Lucas. I can’t say I’ve ever studied Buddhism but I find myself using “calm-Jedi-face” many times throughout the day. If I feel myself losing control I kick in to this calm state and start breathing. It works. It really does. I picked up this Buddha at Ross one day and I have several Yodas so this happened:


My mom actually made those little hats for Pepper but her Force was too strong for them so they ended up here. You can’t help thinking a happy thought when you pass my little altar. (Keen eyes will spy Shadow photo bombing these Jedi Masters.)

Here the Purple Falcon flies low across the Arizona desert.


It doesn’t stop at Star Wars either. Sometimes I imagine Pepper having a little silver helmet like Merlin in Excalibur. Then, I tell her it was her love that brought me back, just like Arthur told Merlin once before.

I really need to stop now. Next thing you know I’ll start talking about Blade Runner. It’s 2 in the morning and I am fading…what was I trying to say? Oh yeah…I love Star Wars, I love musclecars, I love Pepper and I put them all together as often as I can.