Dark Shadows was an earnest but campy “horror” soap opera that ran five days a week from 1966-71, then reran on cable in the 90s. As a phenomenon, there’s not much to say about it. I certainly wasn’t going to blog about going to one of their conventions.
Really, that’s what I thought.
We wandered into a huge room. Close to a thousand people watched raptly as snippets of various episodes were projected on a mall-theater sized screen. A lot of the same folks go to these things every year, year after year. They’ve seen it all before. At a Serious Dramatic Moment, about half the people there laughed – out loud -- in perfect unison. Seriously, hundreds of them, all at once. This was creepier than anything in the plot. We never figured out why.
The demographic of people who were fans in 1966 isn’t young, though they still dress that way. I hope I have the guts to wear a micro-mini with high heels when I’m those women’s age. I also hope I don’t. Ask me about the old lady in the psychedelic dashiki, I’ll tell you off the record.
Details aside, I respect their devotion. The two who broke my heart and gladdened my spirit were an elderly couple in matching Dark Shadows shirts. She was partially blind but pushed his wheelchair and handled his oxygen tank like a trooper. Her smile, when I asked to take their picture, was humbling in its radiance. I wish I hadn’t ruined the shot.
This is the moral, and why I’m telling you about it: We don’t outgrow our penchants and peccadilloes. We take them with us into that good night. Let the jokers joke and the snobs sneer, what matters isn’t what we care about, it’s that we still care. Those people still care, and I honor them for that.
Well, maybe not the guy who looked like Captain Kangaroo’s evil uncle, but the rest of them, definitely.