Luke, I Am Your Tenderfooted Father / by Courtney Mehlhaff

I'm growing increasingly aware of the need to avoid judging books by their covers.

I used to ride the bus with a rather large man who would sit and talk with the bus driver for the entire trip, trading lines from movies and comedy specials. If I hadn't heard him joking around, I might have been terrified by the size and sound of this guy. He had one of the deepest, most sonorous voices I've ever heard. Everything about him seemed scary and powerful . . . until he told the following story.

Several years ago, he was awakened in the middle of the night by some noises on his front lawn. When he looked out the window, he saw a group of teenagers toilet-papering his house. Guessing that they were his son's classmates, he decided to give them a scare.

He exploded out the front door in his pajamas, bellowing like a crazy person. When the kids piled into a van and took off, he chased them down the street. Apparently they were also struck by the depth of his voice, because he could hear screams from inside the vehicle: "Darth Vader's gonna kill us!"

Finally, the van managed to outdistance him, and the frightened teenagers escaped into the night. That was when he realized that he'd rushed outside with no shoes on. And, because he hated being barefoot, he was forced to hop gingerly back to his house. "Imagine what those kids would have thought," he laughed, "Seeing Darth Vader tiptoeing down the street!"

Of course, this was also the guy who said that, after watching the movie Candyman, he was huddled in his bed with "all the lights in the house on AND a flashlight."

Dark Lord, indeed.