Arriving in London, UK, has me thinking of American movies...
04.08.2007 - 04.08.2007 24 °C
When I was 12, my parents got First Choice, the first pay-TV movie channel offered in Canada. The first movie they ever showed was Star Wars at 6 AM on February 6th, 1983, though there were first-day technical issues, and there was no sound for the movie. Those technical issues were soon fixed, though and soon I was watching uncensored and commercial free movies in the comfort of my basement. My parents didn’t like the concept of a TV in the family room, as it would destroy family bonding, so the TV was relegated to the basement.
I had a cat named Guido that spent most of his time outside. In fact, there were times when Guido would go out, and disappear for four days, before returning briefly to enter the house, eat some food, use the litter box and then leave again. It always amazed me that the cat would come inside to use the litter box, as there was lots of dirt outside where he could have buried his poop. Guido was not an especially bright cat, but had figured out that if it wanted in the house, the most likely place I would be to let it in would be in the basement watching TV, so he would come around, bat at the basement window and howl. Guido never really meowed, he either snarled or howled.
One evening I had a friend over named Vaheed, and we were watching the excellent John Landis movie An American Werewolf in London. In the movie, for those who haven’t seen it, two friends are backpacking in England, crossing the Yorkshire moors when they are attacked by a wolf. One is killed, and the other survives, but is soon visited by the undead spirit of his friend, who warns him that at the next full moon, he will become a werewolf. The movie is both funny and scary, and at a particularly scary part, as Vaheed and I cowered tensely in my basement, a suddenly unnatural howling commenced, and the house shook with the fury of some undead animal tearing at the windows and sideboards to get at our tasty, young flesh. Startled, I looked up to see a wild-eyed, hair covered face in the basement window, sharp, saliva-covered fangs glistening in his mouth. I screamed in terror, and Vaheed jumped startled, blood draining from his face.
Within half a second, of course, I realized it was my cat, Guido, wanting in, and Vaheed and I relaxed, but the event had us both on edge, and later that evening while walking to his house, we realized how much the two of us, walking down the lonely, dark streets of suburban Burlington resembled the pair of hikers walking across the moors in the movie, and how likely it was that werewolves were hiding in the thick trees and bushes that lined the street. The two of us broke into a sprint, not stopping until in the safety of his house, half a kilometer away.
As compared against other movie monsters, I really think it would be coolest to be a werewolf. Unlike Frankenstein’s monster, who can’t really communicate and is scary to children and women, or a vampire, who can’t ever go to the beach, the werewolf really has no restrictions on its ability to interact with other humans. You’re just a regular guy other than a couple nights a month, when you eat people unfortunate enough to be wandering around in the dark at night. Plus, wolves are fast and smart and cool looking.
Instead though, as I grew up from that 12 year old scared in my basement of my cat, I started to resemble more of a bear than a wolf – large and lumbering instead of lithe and fast. Instead of the hunter of big game, I’m the chubby little cubby obsessed with honey and likely to get himself stuck in Rabbit’s hole. My friend Dennis, on returning from a trip to Mexico, brought me back an embroidered bracelet with the word “Bear” on it, though I have never worn it, afraid of the gay-sex connotation more than hiding my true, salmon-fishing nature. If I were to be a lycanthrope, likely to change at the full moon, it would most likely be that of the were-bear, man during the all periods except during the full moon, when I change into a black bear, on the hunt for berries and carpenter ants to eat.
Upon landing in London, England, and catching the Piccadilly line to my hotel from Heathrow Airport, I was reminded of the movie An American Werewolf in London. In the movie, once the main character turns into a werewolf, he is out hunting unsuspecting Londonites. One of his prey is an unsuspecting business man, who has just stepped off his train and is working his way through Tottenham Court Road station. As he walks through the deserted hallways of the tube station, he is startled by the sound of a menacing howling that echoes off the tiled walls. He starts to run, but falls on the escalator, and we watch from the point of view of the wolf, as the wolf advanced towards the man.
Of all the history in London, even of it being the land of my ancestors, this is my first thought on arrival in this new land, of 1981 movies, cats who spend too much time outside and running at a full sprint through the streets of my suburban hometown. Ah well, there’s probably lots of time to experience the history and culture of this place. For now, I’ll be happy to be the Canadian Werebear in town.