Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Our friends, the Monsters

A friend of mine (I'll call him "Bill") lost his mother very recently, and I sent him my wishes for "many lasting solaces, great and small." Knowing my friend, it's likely one of the solaces he'll turn will be his love of classic horror films.

Then, over at the Universal Monster Army site, I mentioned a science news item reporting that the brains of adolescents and young adults suppress interests from childhood because the brain is growing and creating new associations. I speculated that it might explain why so many people I know who enjoy monsters and horror films re-find their enthusiasm in their 30s after losing having some of their interest for many years.

UMA member Mike Cathcart left a post in response about re-connecting with his love of the icons of monsterdom. I found it moving, and after thinking of Bill I wanted to share it here. I'm sharing an excerpt of it here with Mike's permission.

My father lay dying, the last weeks of a long illness, back in the fall of '93.

I had been a caregiver, along with my mother, over many years... by this time, I knew he had maybe a week or two, tops, and part of me felt relieved (and therefore guilty), and part of me was just sad to be saying goodbye for real.

I was walking around the Topanga Plaza mall, looking at decorations for the approaching Hallowe'en, and something caught my eye in a Waldenbooks. This little skeleton-like character atop a spiraled hill over a pumpkin patch?

Of course I knew who Tim Burton was, but had NO idea this stop motion film was coming out (I had been preoccupied for a few years!)... the display of figures, flipbooks, jewelry, story books for The Nightmare Before Christmas absolutely stunned me!

Then, after spending who knows how long poring over this treat, I saw behind the display and down the aisle another display for Hallowe'en related merchandise, and behold! model kits, Universal Monsters coloring books, VHS copies of LuminatorsFrankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, and my beloved Night of the Living Dead...and suddenly I was hopping, giddy, you know? Giggling, being a total idiot!

Maybe it was just because I was so tired, physically, spiritually, emotionally... but this realization swept over me, in a voice that was a mix of my own and my dad's: Monsters! YES! They just keep doing it, don't they? They've always been, always will be your friends. LOOK at 'em, GOD, you've spent your young life loving these spooky things and they still manage in the midst of your sorrow to sneak up and surprise you with utter joy... forever!

They'll never leave. I could send it all away, and enjoy my life just as much trying to get all of it back, but it'll never go away. For me, that's why we come back. To the friends who never left us, even if we left them for a short while.

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