My name is Louie Matos and I’m a geek. I’m such a geek that the week my best friend moved to Puerto Rico, I asked him to co-write a blog. Of course he said, “Yes!” because I’m SOOO flipping interesting, and because since we’ve known each other, we collaborate even when we don’t know we’re doing it. For the purposes of this blog, I’m The Mustache. I’ve had a mustache since I was 10 years old, and I’ve never shaved it off. (We Puerto Ricans love our facial hair.)
I was born into my geekdom. My Mom was a collector, and my Dad is a huge reader. So early on Dad would read to me and when he was done with the book, I would keep it until I learned to read for myself. And then I read everything, inhaling books from our school library 5 or 6 per week. When we moved to a new, safe neighborhood, I began to walk to the library, weekly. That’s when I became obsessed with books in general, and horror in particular.
In Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, my brother, Marc, and I moved into the basement together. We had our own TV and because we were in the basement, Mom and Dad pretty much left us to our own devices if we let our little sister, Dee, tag along. Of course, when you’re young your little sister is just annoying, (now not quite so much). There in that basement we would watch creature features, chiller theater, and horror marathons. We collected comic books, toys, and books. When we could afford our own VCR, we collected movies.
So if I were to communicate my geekdom, I would say I’m a horror guy, former collector of Star Trek and Fangoria magazines. I still read 3 or 4 books per week (mostly horror and sci fi but practically anything.) I still read comics when I can get my hands on them (no small feat here in Puerto Rico). Dungeons and Dragons is still a must at family gatherings and we never fight about which is better (Star Wars or Star Trek). We can enjoy both. This blog will have all of that and a whole lot more. Stay tuned.
I’m Eliseo Figueroa Jr. and you’re not. I was born in Saint Francis Hospital across the street from Saint Mary’s Park in the Bronx. I was born there because that was where my mother was, and I wanted to be near her. My parents came from Puerto Rico and moved to New York City when they were kids. My dad spoke fluent English – with an accent – but he’d had a stint in the army and had mastered the language. However, he needed a little work on reading and so every day on the way to work he would buy a comic book and read it on the subway. In those days they were ten cents, a quick read, you could fold them and put them in your pocket, and when you finished you threw them away.
Back home my mom would tell my dad to read me a story to put me to sleep. My dad had no desire whatsoever to read me any of my baby books, so he read me one of his comic books instead. While other kids dreamed of Mother Goose, the Old Lady who lived in a shoe, or Little Red Riding Hood, I dreamt of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. And this went on for years. When I got older, I asked him to give me the comic books. At that point he stopped throwing them out and I had a comic book collection even though I still didn’t know how to read. During the day I would make my mom read me my comics repeatedly.
I was dying to learn how to read and had been told that you learn to read in first grade. I remember being so excited the first day of school for the first grade. I couldn’t contain myself. I thought it was like magic – poof! – I was going to come back home and be able to read all my comics. My mom had to sit me down and explain that it was a process. That over time I would learn how to read and by the time I finished the first grade I would be reading. I must say I was disappointed but more determined than ever to master this thing called reading.
Over the years my comic collection grew (my dad had to keep building bigger and better shelves) and so did my interests. I mastered reading and went on to read books. I discovered the library where they let you borrow books – what a concept! And my interests in literary science fiction and fantasy expanded to include television and movies. Yes, I was and still am a full-blown geek! By the way, I’m the beard in our little duet. I have a goatee and no moustache.
In all that time while growing up my dad never once complained. How could he? This was all his fault and he knew it. One time we were in a store where I was purchasing some comics and it all came to twenty bucks. As my dad was paying the man the owner commented on how much I was spending on comic books. My dad’s reply was, “Well, at least he’s not on drugs!” Science fiction, fantasy, horror, secret agents, giant monsters, and more are my drug of choice. Anyone who has ever sat in a darkened theater and has had their heart start racing in excitement as the music to STAR WARS begins to play knows exactly what I mean.