I Grew Up Thinking “I Know” Is How You Respond To “I Love You”
Happy Revenge of the Sixth, everyone. (You probably know May the Fourth, but I just learned about Revenge of the Sixth last week, so of course, I now have to use it.)
I was five years old when I saw Star Wars for the first time. I’m pretty sure I nagged my parents to see it in the theaters at least 10 or 11 times. And no, I’m not exaggerating.
When The Empire Strikes Back came out the following year, I couldn’t wait to see it. I think it’s a safe assumption that my generation (that is, kids born in the 70s) was probably the one most influenced by Star Wars. In fact, I realize now that it’s pervaded even my romantic life….
Yes, that is correct. I learned romance from Star Wars.
You see, The Empire Strikes Back has one of the most iconic lines in the history of love stories. After spending the first two-thirds of the movie mocking and belittling Han Solo (Han never flinching the entire time), Princess Leia eventually realizes that she’s fallen in love with him. Unfortunately, this realization comes after they’ve been captured by Darth Vader.
As Han, wrists shackled and surrounded by Imperial Stormtroopers, is brought onto the carbon freezing platform, facing an almost-certain death, Leia finally reveals her feelings. She looks across the chamber, locks eyes with Han, and blurts out, “I love you.”
Han looks back and replies, simply, “I know.”
And that’s it. He gets lowered down the chamber, is encased grotesquely in carbonite, and we have to wait until the next movie to find out what happens to him.
As a piece of trivia, the original script actually called for Han to reply, “I love you, too.” However, Harrison Ford didn’t feel that Han, the swashbuckling, fearless bad boy, would ever say something so mushy. So he came up with “I know” on the spot, and romantic history was made.
Of course, as a seven-year-old boy, I wasn’t aware of this subtext. I wasn’t aware of the attitude that Han’s response represented. I just figured that he was expressing love the way men are supposed to express love.
And it wasn’t until my 20s that I finally realized that “I know” isn’t what you’re really supposed to say in response to “I love you.” Because I certainly didn’t grow up watching movies like Pretty In Pink or The Breakfast Club, even though those were from “my generation,” too. I didn’t grow up with any understanding of the heartwarming romantic gesture. I grew up watching Han Solo and Indiana Jones. I grew up with the understanding that, when you’re on the verge of becoming a human popsicle, you keep your cool, and you tell her you know how she feels.
Hmmm. Now, I wonder what other manly romantic gestures I might have picked up as a kid….
You know what? Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.