As much of a fan of the Gungan, Jar Jar Binks, as I am, he’ll never be my favorite being named “Jar Jar”.
This was the real Jar Jar:
2008, Montour Falls, NY
Instead of being a clumsy orange amphibian, the real Jar Jar was a regal, chatty, female Siamese cat who became a part of our family over 12 years ago. I was strictly a “dog person” prior to meeting my wife in 1997, or so I thought. She had 2 cats and a great dog when we met, and though I was completely convinced that one of her cats wanted to murder me (the other one was as sweet as could be), I coexisted fine with them—I never hated cats, I just didn’t understand them. One morning sometime in 2000, I left our apartment to go to work, and I heard this insistent meowing. I looked under our back steps and saw a tiny Siamese cat staring back at me. I talked to her for a minute or two, and then had to get to work. There were all kinds of cats roaming around our neighborhood, and Valerie was rescuing a lot of cats and dogs back then, so she always put a bowl of cat food out on the back porch—it wasn’t uncommon to see cats hanging around.
2007, somewhere on I-90E
Later that night, we were hanging out in the bedroom talking and watching TV, and we heard this loud feline wailing outside through the open window. Valerie went out to see what was going on, and came back in with the same Siamese I’d seen that morning. I was convinced (and still am) that she had heard my voice through the window and remembered me from the morning. I instantly felt attached to this little cat, and I don’t even think we had a “should we keep her?” conversation…we just did. I named her Jar Jar, knowing full well that she was female, and just not caring. What better way to honor my favorite character from The Phantom Menace? Valerie, much better versed in cats than me, quickly realized that she was in heat, and so we got her fixed; the vet said that she was about a year old, and that she had probably been the “runt of the litter”.
2001, Seattle, WA
Jar Jar fit in with the rest of our family right away; it felt like she was always meant to be there. Although she “belonged” to both of us, I had a special connection to her. She was completely mischievous and demanding of affection, even more than cats usually are—and I was happy to indulge her. She was spoiled rotten. Since I’ve always stayed up way later at night than my wife, and the other cats and Sugar the dog had a routine of going into the bedroom when Valerie did, Jar Jar would always hang out and chatter at me into the wee hours. She was my constant companion, and would run to the door to greet me when I got home.
2007, Seattle, WA
All month during “Jar Jar June”, I’ve been debating about whether or not to write this installment, for a couple of different reasons. I worried if it would fit tonally amongst posts about inflatable chairs and JJB-themed toddler panties. Also, it’s not really about “Jar Jar Binks, Star Wars character”—it’s about my cat, which is pretty personal…and the internet is already overstuffed with people artlessly perseverating about themselves to nauseating extremes. Ultimately, I felt like “Jar Jar June” would be incomplete and unsatisfying for me without this post, and so it was important to me to include it.
2010, Rochester, NY (back: Chewie, front: Jar Jar)
There is a parallel between Jar Jar Binks and Jar Jar the cat that’s pretty relevant, though. Much like Jar Jar Binks is the bridge between the Gungan and the Naboo, and opens Padme’s eyes to the value of the Gungans, Jar Jar the cat was completely responsible for me learning to love and appreciate cats as a species. I still love dogs, too, but I don’t see myself ever not having a cat (or two) for the rest of my life. I may not depend on cats to help me fight Battle Droids(not yet, at least), but I do depend on them to add something to my life that was previously missing, and I didn’t even know it.
2010, Rochester, NY
Jar Jar had a stroke and died shortly thereafter 2 years ago this week. It was painful then, and it’s painful now…I thought we’d have many more years together. I loved her like a child, and still think about her every day. You can only move forward, but I have a life debt to her memory.
2004, Seattle, WA
Binks Blow-Up Blow-Out ?