The Monster, Mashed

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not bitter.

A lot of people, they think I’m bitter, because of what happened. But I’m not. I’m not the kind of guy to be bitter. I had a good run. It’s not like I ain’t thankful for what I got. Believe me, I am. You know what life is like for most people like me? No matter what, at least I didn’t end up like my old man, face down in a swamp with a silver-tipped cane through his chest, and then thrown into Potters’ Field because he died without any clothes on. No wallet, no identification, so they chuck him into some hole in the ground on top of a hobo. It happens a lot more than you might think. At least that didn’t happen to me.

Some of the guys, they give me a hard time. It’s mostly young guys. They’re all about representing, having pride in your people, whatever that means. They say we shouldn’t ought to be second-class citizens. I say I agree with them: that’s how come I did it. I wanted a better life for my wife and my kids. But then they turn around and say I brought shame the race, or something like that. They call me an Uncle Tom, or there’s this one kid my son goes to college with calls me Howlin Fetchit. They say that I brought disgrace to our people, appearing on the front of them damn boxes with that goofy-ass grin on my face, slobberin’ all over a kiddie cereal like a clown. I try to tell them, look, my face on them damn boxes is what’s putting your best friend through college. He’s the first werewolf in the United States to do pre-med, and what do you think got him there? It was doing them damn cereal boxes what paid his tuition. But they don’t want to listen.

Well, the hell with them. They guys I’m really mad at…look, I don’t begrudge anyone their success. I wouldn’t want someone saying I didn’t deserve what I got, because I worked hard for that money. And it’s not like all the guys didn’t pull their own weight. Count Chocula?  Christ, that guy was born to be a star. The way he filled out those brown tights — I mean, I’m no queer or nothin’, but you can see why the ladies were all over him. There weren’t no special effects with that guy. It was all real. He put it all out there when he did a commercial, never needed a second take. I always had to work real hard just to learn my lines, you know? I’m not one of them East Coast werewolves who went to prep school. I was born and raised right here in Youngstown, Ohio. It was all I could do to read the friggin’ cue cards when the whole while I wanted to tear the throat out of the guy holdin’ the boom mike. But Count Chocula, it all came natural to him. We’d be out at a bar after a long day doing promos, and some honey would walk in. She’d be all aloof, and he’d strut right up to her, in full cornball mode — holding his cape over his face, arching those pointy eyebrows, a bat flitting around his head. Super-cheesy, you know? We’d always think, no way is any girl gonna fall for his jive. But as soon as he’d open his mouth and say “Bleah!” she’d be handing him her hotel key. That guy, he was just…smooth, you know? A natural. I can’t say he didn’t deserve his success.  Yummy Mummy — well, I’ll be honest with you:  it was, like, nine different guys.  They just wrapped up whatever stage hand wasn’t doin’ anything in the bandages and shoved him in front of the camera.

And Frank…well, I won’t lie to you. Me and Frank had our differences. I’m no Rhodes scholar, but honestly, that guy was dumb as a post. It might have taken me ten or twelve takes to learn my lines, but it took Frank six weeks just to learn his name. And, well, I don’t want to get into the personal stuff too much, but I’ll just say this: the pink outfit, that was Frank’s idea. But even with all that, I always liked the guy. I don’t judge nobody just because they’re different. What an undead monstrosity does in the privacy of his own bedroom, that’s his own business. Frank was a good guy, for the strawberry-flavored creation of an insane necromancer, and he always was friendly and did his job the best he could.

But Booberry. Jesus, that guy. It makes me mad just thinking about him. Always wising off to the director, thinking he was so smart because he went to friggin’ Julliard. Bragging about his acting lessons, even though he was down in the trenches doing commercials just like the rest of us. You couldn’t even take a picture of the guy that came out halfway decent because his eyes were all bloodshot and he had that stupid expression on his face — and why? Because he was fun-loving and easy-going? No, sir, buster. It was because he was high as a kite, all the time. That kid smoked more weed than all the damn Beatles put together. Even that stupid little hipster hat he wore drove me crazy.

So, naturally, when the company announced they couldn’t afford to keep all four of us on staff, I wasn’t too worried. Layoffs were a fact of life back in the ’70s. And I figured, hell, my job’s secure. Who are they gonna lay off — some snooty drugged-up ghost in a porkpie hat, or me, an honest-to-goodness werewolf? A werewolf is one of the Famous Monsters of Filmland; a ghost ain’t even really a proper monster! Besides, they already had one berry-flavored product; what did they need with two?  I represented the entire spectrum of fruits; I wasn’t some one-trick specter.

I guess you can figure out what happened. Old General Mills came down to the set to tell me himself. Of course, he had his reasons. The fruit flavor wasn’t selling as well, he said. The whole “Brute” thing made moms nervous, like that was my fault instead of the marketing department’s. There was some kind of problem with the pink chemicals they used to die the pink marshmallow bits. What am I, a chemist now? I have to take the fall? It’s just business, says the General. It’s nothing personal. That’s what they said in The Godfather when they were about to whack a guy, that’s all I know.

Bitter? Hell, no. I ain’t bitter. I’m sweet.


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