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Thursday, October 27, 2022

Love, Death and Apple Pie

Yes, I’m from Transylvania. And no, I’ve never seen a vampire. Why do people always ask?

Flip through any fantasy magazine, and you’ll see the ads. Lovers of the Night - Join Us! Vampire swords for sale. Vampire jewellery. On-line chatline - conversation that bites! Read the magazine’s guidelines and you’ll see ‘No more vampire stories.’ But people keep writing them.

Why the movies, books and clubs? Why the advertisements for red contact lenses and cosmetic dental surgery?

Maybe it’s the supernatural powers. They say vampires are stronger and faster than mere humans. They’re immortal and can change into bat form and fly. Faster and stronger, especially without having to work out, sounds good. And flying, sure, flying appeals, but I don’t see the attraction of bathood. They’re still rodents, after all.

No, that can’t be it. After all, how many adults wander around dressed as Superman or the Mighty Thor? Outside of cons, I mean.

Let’s drag a little Freudian analysis in to get to the bitten—er, the bottom—of this. You know, where someone’s innocuous-looking behaviour actually represents a longing buried deep in their subconscious. Most people find vampires sexy, so that can’t be the motivating desire. Too easy. It has to be something hidden, something relating back to childhood.

Why not start with a list of things to be explained. Vampires roam at night, avoiding sunlight. They sleep in coffins. They steal the life-force from other people by sucking blood. They’ve apparently got hypnotic powers, as their victims take pleasure in being abused in this way.

What do these behaviours really represent? Ah-hah! Blood-sucking, that’s the clue. It’s not normal human behaviour, but taking nourishment from the body of another is - for a baby. So vampires represent a wish to return to our infancy, where our desires were met without our having to do more than cry.

It all fits. Vampires live in darkness - surely an analogy for the safety of the womb. And most babies are safely wrapped up before ever being taken outside. Have you ever seen one of those frilly little beds for newborns? Or an old-fashioned pram? Oval, lined with satin, trimmed with lace and ribbon, not so different from a casket.

Hypnotic powers? One gurgle and every adult within hearing rushes over to help. Supernatural speed and strength? Don’t tell me you’ve never let a younger sibling win a race or a wrestling match. How do you think they felt, knowing they were faster than the grownups?

Immortality? Every kid thinks they're indestructible. Ask any mother. And one preschooler has enough energy to exhaust several adults.

The whole thing is pretty clever. Instead of looking like whiny little brats who haven’t grown up, vampires come across as cool, sophisticated, sexy rebels. If only I could find a similar shtick.

So the next time your neighbourhood’s infested, forget the garlic. If a vampire approaches you for a midnight snack, offer him a bottle instead.

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