Melinda’s Brew : Who’s Your Alter Ego?

Melinda’s Brew : Who’s Your Alter Ego?

Yesterday was Halloween. Which meant witches and goblins and monsters (oh my!) came ringing the doorbell in quest of some sweet treat. What fun! It was wonderful to see boys and girls of many an age dressed up. (Luckily, it was temperate enough for at least the older boys and girls to brave the neighborhood without outerwear covering their clever costumes.) We saw our fair share of princesses, Spidermen, and little devils. There were even three Star Wars-clad youths — two Clone Troopers and one menacing Dark Lord of the Sith himself (the three earned an extra morsel for their costume choices. How could I resist?). As the evening parade wound down, I couldn’t help but think about the idea that each child’s choice of costume — whether meant to be scary or sweet — was a testament to their alter egos. Even my daughter’s one-year-old Birman “Mina” (pictured above) chose to “costume” herself as her alter ego, Princess Leia Organa (doesn’t she look cute in her Leia buns?). Mina is just as feisty as the Rebellion’s leader. Trust me.

By “Alter Ego”, I don’t necessarily mean contrary to one’s true self. I mean taking on the persona of a character most like one’s self or at least that persona one would like to emulate (for better or worse). Come on, now … who — even among those of us who are rather mild-mannered — wouldn’t like to wield the power of Darth Vader — even for a short while? Now there’s a character who does what he pleases when he pleases without any thought to the ramifications. Can you think of instances when such power would be pretty darn grand to employ? I can! (Not that I ever would. I’m just saying…)

Who is your Star Wars alter ego? Whomever you choose, it does not have to be your favorite character. It might be, but it doesn’t have to. Take, for instance, my Star Wars alter ego vs. my favorite character. Luke Skywalker tops my list of favorite characters, and don’t get me wrong — there are lots of Luke’s qualities to emulate. However, I wouldn’t necessarily choose Luke as my #1 Star Wars alter ego. That honor goes to Qui-Gon Jinn.

Now, I have to admit, after watching “The Phantom Menace” earlier this week, that I noticed Qui-Gon has a few negative traits. He can be a mite dismissive of compatriots when they aren’t in step with his intentions. In other words, he knows best, and it is up to everyone else to follow his lead, no questions asked. Qui-Gon bites out: “Are you brainless?” to Jar Jar after the pair narrowly escape the droid army’s onslaught during their landing on Naboo. Jar Jar responds that he is able to speak (implying he is capable of sensible thought), but Qui-Gon retorts — none too kindly — that one’s ability to speak in no way makes that individual intelligent. When Padmé expresses her concern about trusting the marooned team to the fate of a boy — a boy who has failed to cross the finish line let alone win a podrace! — the Jedi Master turns to the young handmaiden and says rather curtly: “The queen trusts my judgment. So should you.” (If Qui-Gon only knew to whom he was speaking … which brings up the question why couldn’t this great Jedi Master sense Padmé’s duplicity? Shouldn’t he have been able to detect that this handmaiden wasn’t exactly who she said she was?)

Then there’s Qui-Gon’s attitude toward his loyal padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi. Even though Qui-Gon thinks highly of the young man who has been by his side for quite a few years, Qui-Gon can be rather dismissive of the soon-to-be-Jedi-Knight. After Qui-Gon’s failed attempt to convince the Jedi Council that Anakin is The Chosen One and, thus, most definitely should become a Jedi (Qui-Gon ignores the Council’s decision, and tells Obi-Wan: “Anakin will become a Jedi, I promise you.”), Obi-wan points out to his mentor: “Do not defy the Council, Master. Not again.” Obi-Wan’s plea falls on deaf ears. “I shall do what I must, Obi-Wan,” Qui-Gon Jinn says, almost smugly.

Since no one is perfect — including the revered Jedi — it’s important to acknowledge and realize an alter ego’s negative traits as well as the positive ones. It’s the positive ones we try to emulate, do we not? When I think of Qui-Gon Jinn as my Star Wars alter ego, I like to think of him (and me 😉 ) as the maverick he is. He’s willing to think outside the box, to not always follow convention. Just because something has been done a certain way for a very long time does not necessarily make it right, or even make it the best way to do something. Many the time arises, too, when Qui-Gon must improvise. Something doesn’t go according to plan. Time to come up with an alternative. My favorite exchange in “The Phantom Menace” (actually, one of my favorite repartees from the entire saga) occurs between Qui-Gon and Watto while the two are discussing payment for a new hyperdrive generator. Republic credits are not an acceptable form of monetary exchange on Tatooine, Watto informs the disappointed Qui-Gon. What does the revered Jedi Master do? Why what any Jedi worth his salt would do — he performs the simple Jedi Mind Trick! Qui-Gon surreptitiously waves his hand, and states, “…credits will do fine.” Watto replies emphatically, “No, they won’t!” Undeterred, Qui-Gon repeats, “Credits will do fine.” Even more emphatically, Watto says, “No they won’t! What? You think you’re some kind of Jedi, waving your hand around like that?” Like Qui-Gon in his unsuccessful attempt, I, too, have tried to employ the Jedi Mind Trick — especially on my children when they were growing up. When it didn’t work, again, like Qui-Gon, I had to come up with Plan B.

Qui-Gon does not allow himself to get frazzled. He stays calm in every perilous situation he encounters. While he may not be able to fight a war for Queen Amidala, Qui-Gon refuses to abandon Naboo to the fate of the Trade Federation. And Qui-Gon has a good heart. He doesn’t want to leave Jar Jar to an unsavory fate at the hands of the Gungans. He does his best to free Anakin and Shmi. He appreciates Obi-Wan, and I truly believe holds dear the bond between them. The two really do make a good, strong team. Who wouldn’t want to use Qui-Gon as an example? He may not be perfect — who is? — but he is a character who really does have a lot of strong qualities.

In the fictional world, there are characters good and bad. Their traits are presented to represent who we’d like to be — and not be (yes, there are times we’d all like to be Darth Vader. We just won’t let ourselves be.). And it doesn’t have to be Halloween to take on the persona of our alter egos. Now that I’ve shared mine with you, I hope you’ll share yours with me. I’d love to know who your Star Wars alter ego is. MTFBWY

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