Fostering Figments of Fester


So they tell me I met Uncle Fester.

Dad said it so casually over the Thanksgiving holiday, it was as if bald, sunken-eyed Addams' who power lightbulbs by popping 'em in the ol' kisser were discussed on just everyone's turkey-centric holiday...

Right between the Macy's Day Parade and the first college bowl kickoff.

I don't even know how the subject came up anymore. All I recall is the Pop saying, "Well, you know, you met Uncle Fester." In the same matter-of-fact tone he might have told me, "You know, your shoe is untied..."

Or "You know, you really need to cut back on the caffeine..."

Or "You know, you have a giant monster zit exploding on your forehead."

But no. It was: "You know, you met Uncle Fester."

And it seemed to me that this was a memory I really should have retained. An Uncle Fester Meet-n-Greet should have been one very big day in Kiddom.

I mean, I loved "The Addams Family" of the 60s. Dry, dark humor.... A big old Gothic Victorian house... A disembodied hand that did its own errands?...

What wasn't to like?

But I scanned the noggin for traces of shaking hands with a pasty, cowl-wearing Goth Kojak, and for the life of me, not a peanut butter-smeared, Play-Doh-encrusted memory lurked in my mental attic.

I recalled meeting Wonder Woman once at Jamesway. A very taped-together Wonder Woman, sloppy and sagging, who was so not the Lynda Carter who I spent a good seven years of my life wanting to be. Mainly, because I thought it would be cool to spin around really fast, and cause an explosion that involved a wardrobe change.

It would have been a handy trick to have, particularly in the school gym locker room.

I remembered meeting Spiderman at the Rockaway Sales Indoor Flea Market. A very authentic Spiderman who I had a crush on at the time, anyway, because Peter Parker was both funny and a bit dishy. And superheroes up until that time had no discernible sense of humor to speak of. (I mean, Clark Kent, honestly-- what a stiff! And Batman, so sulky...) So it wasn't really any surprise that Spiderman was a fond reminiscence...

Even at age six, I was going for the quirky guy.

I also recalled meeting a couple of Apes, from Planet Of The. I was a little disappointed at the time that one of them wasn't Roddy McDowall, because he was about the only actor I really knew other than Burgess Meredith. And because this was the late 70s, Roddy McDowall was pretty much in everything.

I felt he should have won lots of Oscars. Largely because, to my kid-brain, there was absolutely no one else in Hollywood of his artistic caliber... and certainly not one willing to wear a monkey head.

But Fester. I'd forgotten Fester! The mind boggled. How could it possibly be?

"Well," said the Pop finally, "he didn't look like Fester. He had hair. He was living in New Jersey."

(As if living in New Jersey and being bald were mutually-exclusive. Tell that to Tony Soprano.)

But then I remembered! Or at least if I didn't actually remember, my brain made up vague convincing recollections on the spot to fill in the missing Festerocity of it all.

I think it was a Two Guys Department Store. I envisioned a small stage, and this guy with some hair and normal colored skin, aged and paunchy, being introduced to the crowd. "Jackie Coogan" was the name. A name that meant nothing to a wee kid like me, as it didn't leap from the Addams Family opening credits.

This was Fester. I recall him being a bit curt, a little cold, and I don't recall actually speaking to him, or having anything signed. I recall leaving shortly thereafter... no bald heads... no lightbulbs lit... no goofy jokes... no sword fights.

It was disillusioning. No wonder it didn't spring to mind instantly. But, ya know, overcoming those little disappointments are an important part of Kiddom.
And hey-- a dull, unfriendly Fester is still better than a Wonder Woman with plastic bullet-proof bracelets and visible bra straps, any day.


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So tell me, folks-- what famous faces have you gotten to meet, and was it all you'd hoped? And how does your kid-memory stack up to big events these days?

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30 comments:

Adullamite said...

Did I tell you I am often mistaken for Spiderman?
At least people call me a creepy little creature and attempt to stand on me. I look like him too.....

Jenn Thorson said...

Adullamite- You're blue and red with no discernible facial features? Oh dear! Beware big shoes...

Chat Blanc said...

No celebrities for me. But that's okay, I'm still a little bit scared of Santa.

Jenn Thorson said...

Chat Blanc- Well, it must just be a nightmare before Christmas for you. Shielding your eyes as you come upon the center of a mall... Fleeing from anyone in red on a streetcorner ringing a bell...

A living hell!

Chaotically Calm said...

Festorocity now that is funny. Sadly I never really remember meeting anyone famous when I was a kid and have no funny stories to tell about it but I do remember going to see Sesame Street on ice and my older cousin yelling to Big Bird to take notice. (She denies this story but it is very true.) You know music and all Big Bird totally couldn't hear her and she got all pouty and sulky and finally in a wee little voice she said, "Big Bird you must be don't know me!"

Sad but very funny, we've since gotten her some English lessons!

Jenn Thorson said...

Faith- OH gosh, that's entirely too cute and sad. Big Bird just knifed her in the heart after being her bestest friend on TV for so long... I'm wiping a tear away right now. (Okay, it's a problem with my contact lens, but still...) Great story.

Da Old Man said...

Mostly sports stars, and some famous folks. My favorite is NJ's Uncle Floyd. No where near as cool as Uncle Fester, though.

Oh wait, I almost forgot. I met Stan "The Man" Lee. Had him sign some stuff, too. Ties in with your entire Spiderman/Wonder Woman Superhero theme.

Jenn Thorson said...

Da Old Man- Stan Lee is EXTREMELY cool to have met! I never saw Uncle Floyd, though I do know who you mean.

ReformingGeek said...

That was funny. I don't think I would have recognized him with hair either.

When I was a kid, Mom took me to get Robin's (from Batman) autograph. It was really lame. He was sitting in a chair at a table in costume signing pictures. I don't think he even said hello or smiled. He may have been terrified of all the kids or just plain bored.

When I was older, Chad Everett from Medical Center made an appearance and Mom and I went to see him. He was literally mobbed by the crowd and his platform collapsed. Security had to rush him away. He was much smaller in person and the poor man looked very frightened.

My best experience was meeting Peter Davison at a fan convention. Peter was very nice and smiled. He was obviously making the best of having a bazillion photos taken and signing autographs for hours on end.

Anonymous said...

Strangely, the two famous people I met were at the same pet store I worked in at the Paramus mall. While working there I happened to meet Brooke Shields (who was incredibly nice with an incredibly frightening mother) and Joe Piscapo (who was a bit of an ass). Interesting experiences both.

Sue

Jenn Thorson said...

Reforming Geek- Ah, poor Robin. And flying solo through the trauma of humanity, too.

I always suspected Chad Everett was short! Now I know.

Sue- And poor Brooke-- I remember you mentioning her once. Not really surprised about Piscapo!

Bullgrit said...

The only celebrity I remember meeting in my youth is Richard Petty. Back in the 70s, in his heyday of winning races. He spoke with me briefly and signed an autograph. I even got to touch his #43 car.

Jenn Thorson said...

Bullgrit- Oh for a kid that had to be HUGE! (Actually, to many adult NASCAR fans, too!)

I saw Jimmie Johnson about a year or so ago when I had to run an errand to Lowes. He was out there posing with his Lowes car. I don't watch NASCAR, but I can imagine it was a big day for his fans!

Claire said...

Alas there are more things that I would like to forget, than stuff I have actually forgotten :)

Jenn Thorson said...

Claire- Can't help ya there, I'm afraid. :) I did want at some point to write a story about someone with the ability to literally rewrite past scenes in their day. I've often wanted to have that superpower!!

Quirkyloon said...

The only celebrity I've ever "met" was Lala from the Teletubbies. I took my then 4-year-old son and he was terrorized by her.

They were banned from our household shortly thereafter.

Oh and yes, I need an extra hand that will do errands around here.

Jenn Thorson said...

Quirkyloon- Heck, Lala scares the crap out of ME! The first time I saw the Teletubbies, I was on vacation in the UK, and the whole thing about gave me nightmares. :)

Very smart move on your son's part, I say. That baby's face which appears in the sun was enough for me.

And yes, Thing could really hire himself out to help around the house. Sort of like MerryMaids, but not.

moooooog35 said...

I met Christie Brinkley at a Billy Joel concert.

I mean "meet" as in, "said hi to."

I mean "said hi to" as in "stood on my chair and screamed CHRISTIIIIIE!!! at the top of my lungs as she walked by less than 3 feet away."

Scared the crap out of her.

Good times. Good times.

Jenn Thorson said...

Moooooog35- Heh, well, that created quite a visual in my mind. :) Probably gave Christie a bit of a nervous condition, but supermodels these days-- they're jumpy. :)

You made me laugh.

JD at I Do Things said...

First, thank you so much for inventing the word "Festerocity," which I plan to steal.

Next, your dad cracks me up, busting out the oh-so casual Fester reference.

I met John Cougar (as he was known in the 80s) on an MTV commercial shoot. Yeah, you heard me.

JD at I Do Things

Jenn Thorson said...

JD- You're welcome to Festerocity. It was an early Police song, I think. :) Okay, no.

But wow, John Mellencamp minus the Mellencamp and plus the Cougar-- COOOL. So you do MTV commercial shoots so we don't have to? :)

(Rats.)

Babs (Beetle) said...

I met quite a few as an adult, but not as a kid. Most were British stars. I ate in the same cafe as most of them. I watched a Carol Channing photo shoot once. She looked so out of place, all dressed in gold and feathers, a pile of white hair and flinging her arms about posing in the back streets of London! It was a sight to see ;O)

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ettarose said...

I got to meet Halley Berry. She was so sweet. I also got to meet the model Duffy. Awesome person. She had at the time a hectic shoot schedule and did it in spite of having a brain tumor.

Jenn Thorson said...

Babs- I can totally picture that! Ms. Channing was certainly never what you'd call understated!

EttaRose- Wow, sounds like some terrific experiences there. Amazing how some stars just carry on elegantly no matter what!

Lord, I want to be whole said...

Uncle Fester thats cool! I love that show!

I'll make sure to drop by at your blog more often...I enjoyed my visit here!

Marvel Goose said...

I have found Uncle Fester for you.

He is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery at 5835 W. Slauson Avenue in Culver City, California. A Roman Catholic cemetery operated by the Los Angeles Archdiocese, it contains – among others – the graves and tombs of some of Hollywood's biggest non-Jewish names and their relatives. The cemetery was opened in 1939 and is 200 acres (0.81 km2) in size.

Fester, being Fester, climbed into the grave marked "Jackie Coogan". It was dark in there, but Fester fixed that...

Jenn Thorson said...

Lord, I Want to be Whole- You're always welcome, and we're open 24/7. :)

Marvel- Fester's clever that way, isn't he? :) I suppose if you stand there long enough, you can just about hear him singing the Mamooshka. :)

Greg said...

This is fun...The Pop always has something to keep you on your toes, eh?

I have a vague memory of meeting Joe Namath at Jets camp or something ridiculous like that when I was a kid. Not impressed, surprisingly. In high school, I corresponded briefly with Maria Von Trapp.

As a so-called adult, though, I have met and gotten David Cassidy's autograph (as dreamy as anticipated, even twenty years later), met Sigourney Weaver a few times (she has a summer place in my old hometown upstate), danced with Kitty Carlisle Hart at a museum gala...and served Donald Sutherland a calzone in Eastham.

Oh, and I heard Harvey Fierstein in the crowd at the Elephant's Trunk Flea Market in CT once. ; )

Jenn Thorson said...

Greg- Oh, my friend Scoobie loved SEAN Cassidy. She tells me she even had Sean Cassidy jeans and a little locket when she was a kid. I don't know her feelings on David, though.

I can understand where you certainly would recognize that voice of Harvey Fierstein! There's an elderly lady at a Florida antique mall who scares the bejeebers out of me each time because SHE sounds just like Harvey. It's hysterical.