Sadly, I think we can all come to the conclusion that vampires might be over. I mean, not in the sense that all the vampires on the planet have been staked and the war against the undead has forever ended, but at least in the sense that Stephanie Meyer made us all go, “Maybe not for a while.”
This strikes me as a bit of a sorrowful moment in my life because I’ve been a fan of vampires since I was in forth grade. You see, it was around February of that year that my family moved for the last time, finally arriving in Belton, MO, in the house I am actually currently living in almost 20 years later. When we moved that last time, I ended up going to school at Cambridge Elementary, and that was pretty much the first school library I ever truly explored.
Books have always been a part of my life. My parents have always kept books handy, and we’ve always had library cards, but honestly, I had up to that point only read whatever I was assigned at school or whatever it was that my older brother and sister were reading. My mom recently told me that she has mixed feelings about our reading habits growing up. On one hand, my parents never censored anything we read, they were just happy we were reading at all. On the other hand, my parents never censored anything that we read, which is why I was reading things like the Incarnations of Immortality series and V. C. Andrews by the age of 10.
I’m not sure I believe these things have lasting effects that prevent me from having normal human interactions, so my mom shouldn’t worry too much about it.
The point is, that once we moved to Belton, we set up roots. I felt comfortable checking books out from the library, absorbing them, and going back for more. This had 2 side effects that I am just now coming to realize.
1 – I found the How to Draw books by Ed Emberley, forever starting me down a path of artistic discovery that would lead to such works as Taco Viking and Jazz Penguins. If it weren’t for Ed Emberley’s books, I would have spent my entire life thinking that my drawing was bad and I was stupid for trying it.
2 – Occult Books – For an elementary school library, Cambridge had a genius selection of ghost, vampire, and monster stories. Some presented as just children’s horror fiction, some as non-fiction research books. I read the entire section in the 1 1/2 I attended school there.
Now, Fantasy books have always been a part of my life. My father is a Tolkien enthusiast that did his best to educate me on the connections between Fantasy and Science Fiction. These were lessons I took to heart and have tried to pass on to unwilling friends and acquaintances. He was showing me the match up between Wizards and Vorlons years before I would ever hear of Clarke’s 3 Laws, especially the third law and it’s two corollaries. I specifically mention Vorlons because Babylon 5 (the greatest sci-fi show ever made) was the example of choice during those lessons.
My oldest brother was also a fantasy geek, introducing me to Piers Anthony and Robert Jordan, two writers my father has never been able to get into. He also introduced me to various forms of horror at a young age through books by Steven King. It should be noted that my brother is seven years my senior, and so, a lot of things he would include me in were way above my age bracket. Honestly, this probably had a more lasting impact on my psyche than anything I read.
It was those shelves of ghost stories and vampire lore that separated my nerdom from theirs, however. Where they chased epic fantasy and adventure, I fell down the rabbit hole of Dark Fantasy, Occult, and New Age Mumbo-jumbo. I probably never looked it on the outside, but on the inside, I was a goth-hippie. I believed in psychic powers and things like that.
No, I’m not joking. I was pretty stupid as a teenager… or 23 year old. It was a phase that took a long time to grow out of.
Still, I never really got tired of vampires, but I also never got into the Anne Rice/Stephanie Meyer Romantic Vampires either.
Yes, LeStats, Rice Vampires are just as bad as Sparkle-pires. “Oh, I’m so lonely and tortured, but look how beautiful and sexy I am! Lets do some cocaine and forget our troubles.”
Ok, now that I have a thousand “pox upon your house” death threats sent my way, I’m going to wrap this all up in a nice little bun.
Vampire were the creatures that made me afraid as a child. They have always been the boogie man for me. I’ve never had a reason to be afraid of most people in my life.
My parents are not the kind that rule through fear, and by the time I was old enough I had other children to contend with, I was one of the biggest kids around. By the time I was mature enough to realize that didn’t mean I couldn’t be hurt, I’d already pretty much become omniphobic social pariah, so the fear of people just wasn’t scary enough, I guess.
One thing has always remained for me, through all the years of my life:
Vampirism is a fear that your identity can be stolen, consumed and used by something sinister. It is much, much more than a thinly veiled metaphor for sexual liberation and exploration. Vampirism is the ultimate metaphor of loss of control through self-indulgence.
Part of me wishes it had gotten explored in that light a bit more before being strung out to die a horrible death in Wizards of Waverly place.
Maybe it still will down the road. Once all the popular of the moment writers have moved on to bigger and better things. Maybe someone that has faced addiction can put fangs on that feeling and show the world how horrible vampirism really is.