I was walking through the parking lot of a big-box store, on my way inside to buy light bulbs and deli meat, when I passed a couple of gentlemen on the yon side of retirement age who had paused at a shopping cart corral to shoot the breeze.
I picked up a snippet of their conversation as I went by.
“I’ve been watching them old monster movies,” said one fellow, adjusting his cap to block the low-hanging January sun.
“That right?” said the other fellow.
“Yeah. Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein,” said the first fellow. “Now, ol’ Frankenstein, that’s my man. He was made out of different human parts, you know.”
“That right?” the second fellow said without much enthusiasm.
It did not seem he wanted to further explore the topic of movie monsters, whether they be bloodsuckers, lycanthropes or the assembled parts of dead bodies reanimated by a fictional 19th century mad scientist.
Personally, I was intrigued. I wouldn’t mind pulling up a piece of rail and talking monsters with them, but I was in a rush to secure light bulbs and deli meat. And, even though I am in my mid-50s, these two had 20 years or more on me. I feared they wouldn’t want a whippersnapper putting his 2 cents in where it wasn’t wanted. I was afraid the conversation would go something like this:
“Gentlemen, I could not help but overhear your lively and fascinating discussion of movie monsters. If I may join in, here’s a bit of trivia. People often confuse Dr. Frankenstein with his creation. The monster is, in fact, Frankenstein’s monster rather than ‘a Frankenstein.’”
“Oh, is that a fact? Well, well, well. Lookee here, Gus. We got us a fancy-pants movie monster expert just strolling through the parking lot, sticking his nose where it don’t belong. I guess next you’re going to tell us that you can’t kill a Dracula with a silver bullet.”
“Uh, well, Dracula was the name of a vampire, undoubtedly the most famous vampire of literature and silver screen, and a vampire is more efficiently dispatched with a wooden stake through the heart. A werewolf — or Wolfman as you call him — can be killed by a silver bullet, according to lore.”
“Did you hear that, Gus? Looks like we’ve got it all wrong. No matter that you and me were sitting in a theater watching monster movies when he weren’t nothing but a twinkle in his momma’s eye. Let me ask you this, smart guy, who played ‘The Invisible Man?’”
“In the 1933 version of the film, based on a novel by H.G. Wells, Claude Rains gave a remarkably nuanced performance as the titular character.”
“Watch your language, sonny. Tell me this, then: If a Dracula fought a Frankenstein, who would win?”
“I’m not sure that —“
“Frankenstein would win! That’s my man. You can’t kill Frankenstein. He’s already dead, you dumb son of a ---. Dracula would bite him but he couldn’t get any blood out because he’s dead. The Wolfman might try to help Dracula — I can see those two teaming up — but Frankenstein would knock the Wolfman’s mangy carcass from one end of the castle to the other.”
“This fight takes place in a castle?”
“Where in the Sam Hill else would it take place, boy? And the Invisible Man? He better stay out of it if he knows what’s good for him. Nobody likes that sneaky backstabber.”
No, I just kept on walking and let those two fellows converse about movie monsters, impeachment hearings or whatever struck their fancy. I know in just a few years it will be me adjusting my hat to block the low-hanging January sun and shooting the breeze while some sucker rushes inside to buy light bulbs and deli meat. And he will do well to keep his mouth shut.