Certain words in pop culture invoke certain figures. Whenever I hear of the Boss, I think of Bruce Springsteen. A voice rings in my head when I hear someone call themselves the Champ. Some people still see Elvis as the King, though Michael Jackson gets away with adding “of Pop” to the end; my king, though, has always been “of the Monsters.”
When I was a kid, Roger’s Video had this deal—seven old movies for seven bucks, and my sisters and I took full advantage of it every time we went. Eventually, as the years went on, this meant we started watching a lot of random and weird movies. By the time I turned seven, I had been exposed to the majesty of Godzilla by my father. It was the old, Americanized black and white, Godzilla: King of the Monsters from 1956, and it started a life long obsession with the king. My father and I moved through the ones he had seen, the original, Godzilla Raids Again, Mothra vs. Godzilla (which he used to try and get me over my fear of moths—to no avail), and The Terror of Mechagodzilla. I then took it upon myself to see all the rest of them, alone, together—it didn’t matter I just needed to get those monsters in me.
I think he regretted getting me so into Godzilla at a certain point, because the world was full of Pogs and Beanie Babies and we were at least two years from the steaming pile of crap that was Matthew Broderick’s Godzilla. Godzilla toys were not a hot commodity by any means.
He bought me a little toy he found in a gas station once: hollow plastic, ill-made, poorly painted and oddly sharp for a child’s play thing. He didn’t seem to care, and neither did I. It was the most amazing piece of cheap Chinese crap I’ve ever been given, and the head popped off for no reason at all. The King of the Monsters now lived with me, and I treasured that toy until it turned on me.
It must have been a candy-dream, because that night I fell asleep—only to be awoken by the rumbling of a sugar fuelled hellscape that mirrored my home. I remember running through the downstairs of my parent’s house in a cold sweat—someone was coming to kill me. I grabbed the banister and flung myself one hundred and eighty degrees onto the stairs, over the landing. I launched my little body up the thirteen plush carpet steps, and there he was, waiting. The tiny King of the Monsters waited for me to pick him up and hold him like a security totem. I held him against my chest as I bolted down the long hallway to my bedroom. I ran past the threshold and shut the door behind me, leaning against it with my back. I could feel my heart beat like everything was really happening, and then there was a sharp pain in my chest. Not inside, though, no—worse. The pain accompanied a pulsing in my hand. I look down and see the King of the Monsters, Godzilla in cheap plastic incarnate, gnawing at my chest—already having gouged a hole the size of a tangerine.
I’ve never, ever forgotten that dream. I woke up immediately after seeing the wound in my chest and immediately buried Godzilla in the top of my closest—the place where shameful things went to die. There are some juicy stories buried in the memories of that closet—salacious stories at that.
See you tomorrow.