The Power of Fiction

I debated the last few days about whether or not to actually post this, mainly because I’m a hermit and don’t generally like to admit weakness. I learned that early on – it only upset others in my world to know I was bullied, so I didn’t say anything. I was the oldest, and as most older children are, I was taught that my job was to protect the younger kids in the family. Somehow that ended up extending to protecting just about everyone, and hiding anything that was wrong. I still do that, actually.

Anyway. That does relate to the rest of the post, I promise. I wrote it earlier, so it repeats a little of what I just wrote, but, ah well.

***

Richard Hatch, who played Apollo on the original Battlestar Galactica, died this last week. He was 71.

When I was in grade school, I didn’t have a lot of friends. Big surprise. I’m a nerd. I was a nerd then, and I was bullied throughout school. I wished I had a big brother and/or a big sister, instead of two younger ones to defend and protect. Not that I don’t love them – I do, and I would do anything for them – but at seven it would have been nice to have someone to look after me.

When Battlestar Galactica aired, I found the perfect imaginary big brother and sister in Apollo and Athena. I was too young to “fall in love” with a character, but I adored them like crazy and wished they were real. And, of course, since I had a very vivid imagination and was completely miserable most of the time, I spent most of my time at school – especially at recess – pretending they were in space above me, talking to me through my communicator, telling me I just had to make it through school and then they could take me back up to the ship… it got me through. Later on in grade school I wrote typical “lost princess” stories based on that. The princesses, of course, were always from another planet.

I usually say that Luke in ESB was my first screen crush, but really, Apollo was, just on a different level than your typical “crush.” I hadn’t realized the impact he (the character, and therefore the actor) had on me, but right now it feels like I lost the big brother who kept me sane when I was seven or eight.

And, of course, I wish I’d realized this earlier. I’m not sure I would have been dorky enough to thank him for playing a character I loved as an imaginary brother forty years ago, but I do wish I’d made an effort to join the sea of fans who let him know they appreciated him before he was gone.

May he rest in peace.

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