The Creature’s Cookbook debuted yesterday on the Tapas app (the app is free to download at Apple or Android app stores), and fans ate it up. So we thought it might be fun to interview author/monster Simon Alkenmayer’s first human friend, Rebecca (no last names please), about the chef.
So, Rebecca, you seem like a nice, quiet woman. How did you become friends with a monster like Simon?
That’s a pretty easy question. I went out one night to get a bagel, and there was this gross dude looking through all the shop windows. I saw him go into this corner store, and used the opportunity to escape. I didn’t want him to see me walk home, so I went around the back of the building and walked up the service drive. There’s these warehouses all linked, and I thought I was being pretty clever, because unless he looked down every alley, he wouldn’t see me. I guess I wasn’t really being clever. It didn’t occur to me that the guy might have been waiting for me to leave and to see where I went.
Anyway, he grabbed me from behind and put a knife to my throat. He said he was going to kill me if I didn’t do what he said. He pushed me really hard, and I fell behind some trashcans. I cut myself on some glass, and got scraped up pretty badly. I was sure I was going to die, or worse, when he started hitting me. Then all of a sudden, there’s this noise, like when a car reeves its engine, and the dude is laying about ten feet away with this thing— I don’t know, like, sitting on top of him. There was all this blood. I wasn’t really paying attention. I was looking for the knife.
When I picked it up, everything was quiet, and there was Simon, covered in goo, but watching me. After a while, I realized what was going on, and that he wasn’t going to hurt me. That he was like, waiting for me to say something. Being polite, you know?
It was overwhelming. I didn’t really have any time to sort through how I felt, because he saved my life! He killed the bad guy, and was super nice about it, but duh, he’s got sharp teeth and says he’s a monster. What could I do with that?
I guess, that’s when we became friends.
Are you afraid he’ll eat you when he gets hungry?
Life with Simon is kind of a balancing act. You have to learn to read his face and know what things will worry or upset him, because whenever he goes through emotions, he gets really hungry. Like his brain needs more calories, or something. If he spends any time with you, then he can smell you. I guess he retains like, a memory of people’s smells? Kind of how we remember what a person looks like. When he zones out, you know, like when he gets so hungry he can’t control himself, then you have to worry. That’s when he reverts back to what he remembers and tracks down what he knows. It’s never happened to any of us, but it’s something he’s always warning us against.
There have been a couple times where I thought he was about to pounce on me, but he really has self-control down to a science.
It probably seems weird that any person would put up with that kind of danger, but not to me. I grew up in a broken home. I’ve been in abusive relationships. What it’s taught me is that anyone can hurt you, really badly. Anyone can hide who they really are and then turn into an animal. Simon is so much better than that. He doesn’t lie about it. At least, not to me. I knew from the beginning that he doesn’t want anything from me, he wants to protect me.
I guess I kind of think of his hangry side as like, a mental illness, and it’s just my job to help him through it.
Is it difficult keeping this part of your life a secret?
It’s not as bad as you might think. I’m not the only one who knows. It’s kind of like a club. We get together over cocktails and dish. I guess the only time it bothers me is when I go to therapy. I really can’t talk about it with my therapist. I don’t think she’d call the cops or anything. I just think she’d assume I was losing my mind.
I guess that’s kind of what Simon feels when he tries to tell people he’s really a monster, and they don’t believe him. It has to be hard on his self-esteem. That’s probably one of the reasons he started coming out on the internet, you know?
There are times I want to explain why he is behaving weirdly, but I can’t. So instead, I just have to feel embarrassed and look out for him. You know, like if we are out together and he suddenly gets hungry. He does this thing where he goes all still and closes his eyes, like all of a sudden he’s meditating. Except his face is all scrunched up. I can tell he’s concentrating really hard. I know now that I have to get him something to eat that has proteinv in it, before his nose starts to wiggle, or he won’t be him anymore.
Like one time it happened at a grocery store, because there was this fight that broke out, and I guess Simon hadn’t eaten properly. Anyway, I had to — right then and there — open a package of beef jerky and just shove it in his face. And people were like, “What’s wrong with that woman? Is she going to pay for that?” And they stared at us.
But whatever. I don’t mind. It’s worth it. Simon is worth it.
How do you feel about being featured in Simon’s writings? Were you worried about being interviewed?
Well, on the one hand it’s a little flattering but awkward, having my private life put out on the internet. Sometimes I worry my ex will see it, or that some mistake I make will come back to bite me in the ass. Then on the other hand, no one knows that me, this Rebecca, is the Rebecca. Like Simon is always saying, no one believes it, so even if my boss read the book, he’d probably just assume it was a coincidence.
I think it’s pretty telling that none of Simon’s friends care about his obsession with chronicling his life. It says how much we enjoy being his friends. Not just because it’s cool to know something that no one else does, or know a monster who can get rid of your dickhead coworker if you ask. But because he makes our lives better. We’re all kind of messed up in our way, and he just patches us up. He’s very good at fixing things.
As for this interview — I’ve never done one before, and I’m a little embarrassed that anyone would ask me questions, but at the same time, I believe in what Simon is doing. If I can help him make his point, I’ll do it.
What do you actually want from Simon? I mean, it’s easier to have normal human friends, yes?
Not really. See, that’s what I’m saying. Humans are way harder. People lie and have all these weird issues, where they’re all jockeying for position. It’s like one big competition reality show. They friend you on Facebook, and suddenly you get to see all their opinions on everything. They expect you to help them move, care about their head cold, or coo at their kids.
Simon doesn’t care what I do. I can walk into his house, walk right up to his fridge, eat an entire plate of brownies, take a shower, and then pass out in his bed, and he’ll just be like, “Hello, my dear. Would you like me to fetch you another blanket?”
And I know what you’re thinking. You think I just want a butler, or like, a gay best friend, or whatever. No! That’s not it. I mean it’s nice that he takes care of me and stuff, but that’s not why. He respects me. I don’t think a lot of people, women especially, know what that word really means. He finds me interesting. He listens to me speak and thinks about what I say. He is like, the walking, talking epitome of the phrase “water off a duck’s back”, and I just think that’s so refreshing.
Plus, he knows a lot of stuff, tells me all these stories about his lives. He’s a great cook. He enjoys spending time with me, with nothing but that as his reward. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a friend like that. I don’t know if it’s possible for a human to be a friend like that. Simon has forever, he doesn’t need anything…well, except to eat people.
About the only bad thing about being his friend is finding body parts.
Do you find Simon sexy?
He’s going to read this, isn’t he? Oh man, I’m in for a huge lecture on “the perils of survival landscapes”. Oh well.
So first of all, Simon is weird looking. Like, reads Mary Shelly at a coffee shop on a rainy day, works swing shift at a morgue, leans out from dark corners in the dead of night, kind of weird. His eyes are like, wide and staring, and his nose is funny. Well, you know, you’ve seen him. Point is, he’s not what people would think of as being attractive. Well, okay, that’s not entirely true. When he dresses like a woman, he’s pretty hot. Make-up suits him and he’s a master at costumes.
But that’s not important. What is, is that he has a way about him. Like, always courteous, always kind. He’ll be walking along, and suddenly he’s staring into space with this little smile on his face, and I just know he’s remembering something from a long-ass time ago and thinking profound thoughts about the human race, or whatever. He almost never interrupts people when they talk. He can be snarky, sure, but seldom out loud. He even bows. Who does that?
The first time I read his website and saw all the stuff he was actually thinking, it made me laugh, because it’s so different from how quiet he seems.
Anyway, Simon is also ridiculously protective. I feel really safe with him, in a way I guess I can’t feel with men. I know that if he’s within hearing distance, if I make one tiny sound of unhappiness, he’ll be there in a flash. And I know what he’ll do.
So yeah, in that way, he’s pretty sexy.
Have you ever eaten human?
Oh my god, I hope not! *gag*
We figured out, pretty quick that if I was always going to be coming over to spend time with him, there’d have to be a system. So we went to every department store in the county and bought all these Tupperware containers. Anything that has people parts in it goes into a red container. Anything that is Rebecca-safe, goes into a blue. And because he’s really organized (borderline OCD, if monsters can be OCD), he even uses separate cookware and whatnot. There’s a whole human-compatible cupboard of stuff with color-coded handles.
But I have to admit, it still freaks me out when I open the fridge and there’s like a bowl of brains, or like fingers just sitting in mustard. I mean, he’s pretty good at keeping stuff like that hidden, but I’m kind of always in his business, so I see things I shouldn’t. I try to just ignore it, or tell myself it’s fake, which he’ll probably also lecture me about.
If I found out I’d accidentally eaten human…I don’t know. I’d probably throw up.
Tell us about your life before Simon.
Boring. And not so great. I grew up in a small town. Lots of cows, dirt, fields. My dad was a complete asshole. Sick. Drank a lot. Not a nice person. I met a guy in high school and moved out of my house as soon as I could, but then it turned out that I went from one bad situation to another. He was abusive and had a drug problem. I got to the point where I knew that if I didn’t leave, I was going to die. Something just clicked. I put all my stuff in my car, emptied my bank account, and drove. When I got here, I sold my car. I went to a local support group, where I met my friend Lisa, and she helped me get a job. Then I got an apartment. Right across the street from a monster.
I would make a joke about my luck, but it turns out, my luck is pretty good.