They Grow Up So Fast

Over the past few years, I’ve been raised a young one. We’ve laughed, we’ve loved, and I’ve watched him grow. Saying goodbye was the most painful thing I ever had to do, but it was worth it if only just to be there for that one moment when he went out to make his way in the world.

I will never forget my sarlacc.

Sarlacc

Image: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Sarlacc

It all started when I was on a business trip, selling canned yams on Tatooine. Through a bizarre string of circumstances, I found myself at the annual Mos Eisley fair playing a game of bingo with some Jawas. I won and many angry shouts of “ootini!” ensued. As I was leaving the bingo table, one of the Jawas handed me my prize: a dirt-filled clay pot with a curious creature inside.

Raising a baby sarlacc had a lot of ups and downs. My food budget was through the roof, but I never had to clean up after him (after all, it takes him 1000 years to digest; it’s been decades and I still don’t think he’s pooped.) I never had any bug or rodent problems. But in those early days, my sarlacc and I had a lot of exchanges that went something like this:

Me: Baby sarlacc, have you seen Mildred’s pet parakeet? I told her I’d watch it for the weekend, but I can’t find it anywhere.

Baby Sarlacc: [unintelligible, high-pitched squealing]

Me: Baby sarlacc, why are there feathers around your pot?

Baby Sarlacc: [tiny, adorable burp]

Me: Naughty, baby sarclacc! Naughty! You know that, in your belly, that bird will find a new definition of pain and suffering as it is slowly digested over a thousand years.

Baby Sarlacc: [unintelligible, high-pitched squealing]

Me: Well, what am I supposed to tell Mildred?

Baby Sarlacc: [unintelligible, high-pitched squealing]

Me: No, you cannot eat Mildred. You can’t solve all your problems by eating them, baby sarlacc.

Baby Sarlacc: [unintelligible, high-pitched squealing]

Me: Well, maybe after she pays me that five bucks she owes me.

The years went by and my sarlacc grew older. Pretty soon, I had to move him from his little pot to a pair of extra large, soot-filled bell-bottoms to a sinkhole in the backyard. He was a good boy and always played nicely with his little friends (he only ate six of them.) And he matured quickly; he was eating solid door-to-door salesmen when most sarlaccs his age were still on dachshunds.

But those innocent, childhood years couldn’t last forever and it wasn’t long before my sarlacc began noticing certain changes. He became difficult, as all kids do, and I remember one conversation in particular:

Me: Adolescent sarlacc, come here.

Adolescent Sarlacc: [unintelligible, sarcastic groaning]

Me: Adolescent sarlacc, did you devour the entire population of Tokyo again?

Adolescent Sarlacc: [unintelligible, sarcastic groaning]

Me: We’ve talked about this, adolescent sarlacc. You can’t just go around eating major metropolitan cities.

Adolescent Sarlacc: [unintelligible, sarcastic groaning]

Me: Don’t you take that tone with me! Have you been hanging out with that thing from the asteroid again? You know I think he’s a bad influence on you.

Adolescent Sarlacc: [unintelligible, sarcastic groaning]

Me: And where were you last night? You weren’t skulking around Jabba’s Palace again, were you?

Adolescent Sarlacc: [unintelligible, sarcastic groaning]

Me: No, adolescent sarlacc! What you feel for the Rancor is not love!

Somehow, we got through those difficult teenage years and my sarlacc’s high school graduation day came. It felt like my heart was ready to burst with pride. He was the only one in his class to graduate, the rest of the class having mysteriously disappeared the night before. That summer, my little sarlacc decided to become a podiatrist.

I’ll never forget the day we said goodbye, that day he headed off to the Arizona School of Podiatric Medicine. He was embedded in the ground by the train platform in his best suit, a fedora on his head and a black briefcase in his tentacle. Our final goodbye went something like this:

Me: I’m sure going to miss you, adult sarlacc

Adult Sarlacc: [mature, manly gurgling]

Me: Still haven’t pooped?

Adult Sarlacc: [mature, manly gurgling]

Me: Well, that will be among your many triumphs. Someday you’ll achieve great things. I’ve always believed that. You have your dorm assignment, right?

Adult Sarlacc: [mature, manly gurgling]

Me: And your change of socks?

Adult Sarlacc: [mature, manly gurgling]

Me: Good. Okay. There are always plenty of tourists around the Grand Canyon, so you shouldn’t go hungry. And…I guess that’s it.

Adult Sarlacc: [mature, manly gurgling]

Me: No, I’m fine. I just have something in my eye.

Adult Sarlacc: [mature, manly gurgling]

Me: Don’t be silly. Now, hurry up or you’ll miss your train.

And so, my sarlacc boarded the train (somehow) and it chugged away. I watched until I could no longer see his tentacle waving goodbye. He graduated from podiatry school and went on to open a private practice on Endor, making orthodics for Ewoks (he tells me they taste like popcorn chicken.) It wasn’t easy raising a sarlacc, but it was by far the most rewarding and meaningful experience I’ve ever had. And that ain’t Bantha poodoo.

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