Darth Vader as a Drag Queen
Or: Why You Should Always Talk to Strangers
When I was growing up, my mother always warned me, “Don’t talk to strangers.”
This is just further proof that my mother never wants me to have any fun.
Because talking to strangers is fun. They’re the ones who have the best stories.
For example, I went on walk last weekend through the trail near my house.
I had planned to sit on a bench, read a book (#nerd), and enjoy the last rays of sun and warmth before Minnesota winter set in and officially kicked my ass.
Ok, the word “warmth” may be a bit of an exaggeration. I was, after all, wearing a winter coat on this walk.
But you get what I’m saying.
But when I arrived at my reading bench, I discovered that it was already occupied.
A guy was sitting on my bench. And immediately, he made me think of what Darth Vader must look like on his day off.
He was large and heavy set, wearing a black sweatshirt with the dark hood pulled up over his shaved head.
I wasn’t sure if I should approach him or keep walking.
I mean, this guy is not exactly the kind of person you want to meet when you are a lone woman, walking on a desolate trail in the middle of the isolated woods where no one would be able to hear you scream.
Oh, did I mention that he had a chainsaw, axe, and other torture tools sitting next to him?
But then again…screw it.
I approached him, scolded him for stealing my bench, and plopped down next to him.
And we started talking.
And by “we” I mean “he.”
Because over the next hour and a half, I learned this guys entire life story.
And it kind of blew my mind.
His story is an excellent example of why you should ignore your well-intentioned mother’s advice and always talk to strangers.
This is an abbreviated version of Darth’s life story. There are lots of twists and turns so try to keep up.
*takes deep breath*
In the early 2000s, Darth and his wife (whom I shall call Mrs. Vader) were going through a rough patch and decided to separate.
To take a break from the stress at home, Darth took a sabbatical from his nerdy computer engineering job and moved to Brazil to become a wind surfing photographer.
Is your mind still intact? Mine was already officially blown at this point, four seconds in.
While in Brazil he met a woman named Eep from Estonia (think far Eastern Europe) who was there as a wind surfing guide for Estonians.
Can you say “random”?
Apparently, Eep was pretty hot but Darth was technically still married and faithful, so he kept his hands off Eep. But this whole non-love triangle was made more complicated by the fact that Eep thought Darth was gay.
“I understand why she thought I was gay. After all, I’m gender fluid and we met while I was dressed in drag, wearing a red dress for Fat Tuesday,” Darth told me.
A statement that sent my mind scrambling as I tried to keep up with him, which was already challenging enough given that he had blown my mind only a few minutes earlier.
But eventually I find enough brain power to process three thoughts:
- “Wow, that’s a wildly vulnerable thing to say to a girl you met ten minutes ago.”
- “What is Fat Tuesday again? Something to do with Mardi Gras?”
- “Ok, now I’m imaging Darth Vader in drag.”
When I finally refocused and caught up with Darth’s story, he was explaining how he and Mrs. Vader eventually got a divorce.
By then, it was 2008, the economy sucked, and he was let go from his cushy computer engineering job.
He and Eep had stayed in touch, so she invited him to get away from the ex-wife and ex-job and come to live in Estonia.
So he did.
He moved to Estonia and, because of the US dollar to Estonian kroon conversion rate, pretty much lived like a king.
He became fascinated with the country.
Imagine a tech-savvy hub nestled in medieval buildings. That’s Estonia.
Darth spent his nights partying to house music in refurbished dungeons, and his mornings buying aspirin from a pharmacy that was built in 800.
I’m not sure if this makes me sad for their economy or happy that their history is so well preserved.
For work, Darth helped Eep and Eep’s boyfriend build a house near a lake (spoiler alert: the Darth-Eep love connection never happens).
After the house was finished, Darth noticed that there was an old barn that needed to be cleaned out.
As he was working on it, he kept finding old machine gun belts and bullets. One night, he finally asked Eep about it.
“Oh that? Well, during WWII, Estonia was caught between Germany and Russia. The Russians were concerned that the Estonians would side with Germany and fight against them.
So, they went to the villages, rounded up the boys, men, and some of the stronger women, put them in a barn, and burnt it,” Eep said.
“What?” Darth demanded.
“To save on bullets,” Eep explained.
Eep took a sip of her tea.
“Well, I’ve got to go to my weekend yoga retreat. I’ll see you in a few days. Byeeee!” she said.
Darth did not sleep a wink that night. He said was like living in a horror movie where it’s pitch black outside and the shutters are slamming against the walls, sending shivers of terror up your spine.
Is it just me, or did this story suddenly get real dark?
His point in telling me this was to explain Estonian culture: People will not talk to you unless you have been formally introduced by a friend or someone they trust.
In Estonian culture, if they don’t know you, they don’t talk to you.
According to Darth, being conquered has led to a culture of stranger danger.
It’s a historical hangover.
Before meeting Darth, Estonia was a blip on my radar. A small country in a long list of places I would love to visit.
Now, it’s somewhere I definitely want to go.
And all because of Darth and his crazy life story.
Which just goes to show you: Never listen to your mother’s advice.
Always talk to strangers.
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