For most of my childhood I spent about one month out of every year in Vermont. Now, Vermont is a great place, but not exactly an entertainment hot spot. Sure, there is skiing, but I was up there in August, so that’s out. There are also cities there like anywhere else, but we went to family property in Starksboro. I think that we doubled the population when we visited. Seriously, our annual visit was a red letter day. They would come and visit “The Family From Jersey.” One time they brought us a pie! So for them, it was a big deal. For us, it was five people sleeping in a barn for a month. Our entertainment was lighting a pile of tree pieces on fire, staring at it, and exploring a particular set of topics.
Around the fire was a time to plumb the depths of the human soul, and ask the really deep questions, like “Who would win in a fight, Galactus or Magneto?” Sure, it sounds silly, but that’s a good three hours of debate right there. I mean, is that outfit Galactus has on made of metal? If so, Magneto might have the edge. Many, many improbable fights were considered, some of which were eventually addressed. Aliens vs. Predator was simulated a few dozen times. (Predator wins, by the way. More toys.) King Kong vs. Godzilla wasn’t even close, either. Giant flammable gorilla vs a lizard with thermonuclear death breath? Even ignoring the size advantage, it was over before it started. The later into the night it became, the more unusual the pairings. What if Danny DeVito fought the Olsen Twins? How about Ghandi versus Martin Luther King Jr.? Huh? Put some thought into that! Two champions of nonviolent resistance enter, one man leaves. My money is on Ghandi. He might be scrawny, but I’m betting he’s got some Dhalsim tricks up his sleeve. Yoga Flame! Then again, rumor has it MLK Jr. had a hell of a right hook.
On those rare occasions that we allow the conversation to drift from grudge matches between civil rights leaders, we would tackle more obscure topics. A recent example would be the issue of which animals would make the best football players. Obviously anyone who needs to handle the ball should have thumbs, so gorillas are key here. In a pinch, a bear could do a decent job. I’m tempted to suggest that an elephant could be a good utility player, but I’m not sure they have the agility to get to the ball quick enough to keep the spider monkeys from intercepting. There was inevitably a veritable festival of “What would you rather do?” or “Would you do it for a million dollars?” questions as well. What would you rather do, eat a whole porcupine, or set both feet on fire for fifteen seconds? Would you run up and punch the president in the face for a million dollars? One of these day’s I’m going to have to get rich just so that I can be the guy putting the cash up for these stunts.
The last recurring topic that would rear its head during our smokey, mosquito filled marshmallow roasting sessions was the casting of various characters in potential films. We ran through the roster of X-Men a few dozen times. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a lock for Colossus, and we liked Mel Gibson for Wolverine at the time. The only character who we correctly predicted was Patrick Stewart as Professor X. I’m still a little disillusioned that we didn’t get to see King Kong Bundy or Butterbean as The Kingpin. (Usually the idea of the actor actually having to give a good performance fell far behind simply bearing a strong resemblance to the character.) We were also generally in agreement that Captain Lou Albano was the only TRUE live action Mario, no offense to Bob Hoskins.
I don’t know what makes these topics so prevalent around the campfire. Maybe we regress to a caveman brain. Maybe the connection to a simpler life puts us in a contemplative mood. Or maybe it is the epic amounts of alcohol and other illicit substances. All I know is that watching for shooting stars and trying to figure out how many leprechauns it would take to defeat a Minotaur in a fist fight was a vital part of my formative years. That’s about all I have to say, but before I sign off, I can’t help but wonder. Are we the only ones that did this? Or is it the whole human race that ruminates upon such topics by the fire? Speak up! Let’s hear some comments.