A Star Wars Love Story, Mandalorian Style

 Mandalorian Mercs fan group trading card

Series-0 MMCC trading card.

Ten years ago, a silver haired male Zabrak in a dirty black desert coat stumbled into Mos Eisley Cantina. While enjoying a mug of Jawa beer at the bar, out of the corner of his eye he noticed a green female Twi’lek on the dance floor. She wore black CorSec issue trousers while waving a staff around haphazardly as she danced, which immediately caught attention of the Zabrak at the bar. Should he shoot, duck for cover, or attempt to rescue her from herself? Noticing the Zabrak staring at her, she turned around and said “Hello!”

Our first “armored” event together.  DragonCon 2008

Our first “armored” event together. DragonCon 2008

How many people can say they met their significant other in Mos Eisley Cantina? I can, and I love telling the story of that Zabrak and Twi’lek’s first meeting. For those of you wondering what I am talking about here, I’ll let the cat out of the bag; my wife and I met through a Star Wars computer game. I had already been playing Star Wars Galaxies since its release in 2003, but I didn’t meet her until the game had been out for almost a year. People sometimes look at me funny when I say I met my wife in a video game, but when you think about it, do we really know when or where we will meet the loves of our life?

Storming San Diego ComicCon together in 2009.

Storming San Diego ComicCon together in 2009.

We became great friends in the game almost immediately after we met. Elisha’s Twi’lek danced for tips in the Cantina, while my Zabrak hunted and took the occasional bounty. Not long after meeting we decided to create a player guild with our friends called “Mandalorian Mercenaries,” and gradually we would start hanging out together more in the game. Finally around May 2004, we decided to call each other. I can still remember hearing a crunching sound when she answered the phone, and the bubbly response she gave me when I asked about it. “I’m eating bacon!”

Ten years ago it was still fairly uncommon to meet people over the Internet. Now, I come from a small town in a very rural North Carolina where people don’t just go around telling others they met someone on the Internet, much less a video game. You would get a strange look, and be promptly labeled at “strange.” Needless to say my parents weren’t all too keen on the idea at first. Luckily though, Elisha lived in the same town that my mother grew up in…so that helped a bit. My father, however, was not convinced. The game and phone would be our primary contact methods for the next seven months. Being an ex-US Navy Submariner, taking our time wasn’t a difficult issue for me. I was used to spending six months at a time under water, with the occasional glimpse of ocean and sky from the periscope.

Guarding Daniel Logan from rabid fans together at Star Wars Celebration V in 2010

Guarding Daniel Logan from rabid fans together at Celebration V in 2010.

Later that year we decided to meet, and on January 21, 2005, I flew down to Florida to meet Elisha face-to-face for the first time. It was a great weekend of spending time with each other in real life, and not a digital medium. For the next 4 years we flew back and forth monthly to see each other, and continued to play Star Wars Galaxies. In 2006 she dragged me to my first convention, DragonCon in Atlanta Georgia. It was there that I would receive the spark of inspiration to found the Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club, and she supported that inspiration by pushing me to do it. When 2008 rolled around, I built her first set of Mandalorian armor so she could troop with me at DragonCon that year. She has continued to work in the background with me in Mercs over the last seven years. About every two years she challenges me with a new armor design for herself as “payment” for putting up with my hobby.

Oh, and both my parents fell in love with her the first time they met. Even my mother’s parents liked her, which was odd because they didn’t care for many things outside the norm. I think we never did tell them that we met through an Internet video game though, and that probably helped.

Mandalorian Mercs at Star Wars Celebration VI in 2012

Deployed together at Celebration VI in 2012.

In 2010, Elisha and I wrote another chapter to our story when we were finally married. We bought a house and some land in a small town in North Carolina, and spend our free time raising some very hyper young horses. So this is how my Star Wars love story began, and it continues to write itself new chapters each year. Without Star Wars, I would have never met my wife and so many awesome things our shared love created would not have happened. You will never climb as high alone as you can with a partner at your side, and I encourage all of you reading this to make sure and let your significant other know how much you love them on Valentine’s Day.

Tom Hutchens is the founder of the Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club. You can follow his antics as “Mandalore the Uniter” on Facebook.

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