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[Spoiler alert: minor plot info from Star Wars The Force Awakens]

I love the new Star Wars movie, but my reaction to one scene is completely unexpected. Watching the reunion of Princess Leia and Han Solo on screen brought tears to my eyes. Literally – as in my eyes welled over and rivulets coursed down my cheeks. I hurried to brush away these salty offenders with my butter-soaked napkin and sat in a stupor of shocked embarrassment. Why was I so emotional about these too? This movie is a thrilling adventure story–not some drippy romantic comedy. Besides, Leia and Han are just fictional characters, for Pete’s sake.

Then it hits me like a ton of bricks. Or maybe the Force washes over me. Either way, I get it.

Leia and Han Solo are way more than a resistance fighter and a smuggler to me. They are weirdly, oddly and truly enough, my first real fictional love story couple.

leia and han soloLeia’s the good girl, fighting with the right intentions for the best cause. She gives it her all and sacrifices everything. Meanwhile, Han’s the quintessential bad boy. The rebel. The scoundrel. The one with the ice-melting smirk who, with just a few witty words, wins our hearts. And he’s the bad boy who never quite commits himself to her. Remember in The Empire Strikes Back, Leia says, “Han, I love you,” to which he responds, “I know.”? And audiences/women swooned.

???What???

He couldn’t say the three little words back to her, which any good therapist worth her weight in salt will tell you is because he isn’t committed to her and while he may love her somewhere deep down inside his psyche, it’s not enough to say aloud. Yet, somehow – and as always – his response of “I know” seems romantic enough that I imagine they can somehow, someday overcome the odds of his ambiguity and be together if all the stars (minus the Death Star) align perfectly.

Ugh.

So now it all makes sense to me. Han Solo is my first bad boy.

Since meeting him, there are plenty of fictional bad boys to love. Rarely do I root for the plain, simple good guy who does the right things to win the girl’s heart and treat her right. Nope, it’s the semisweet and evasive dudes who keep my interest. Dallas Winston in The Outsiders. John Bender in The Breakfast Club. Jordan Catalano in My So Called Life. Jax Teller in Sons of Anarchy. Quite a list of honor.

So, thanks to Han Solo for being my first bad boy. And to Princess Leia, I mean General Leia who also taught me that while they are fun and desirable, it’s okay to let those bad boys go.

i love you i know

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