The Obligatory Vampire Column
by Nicole Freire
If you have been reading my column semi-regularly, or if you are part of my circle of friends and family, then you know that I am often prone to anxiety.
This is nothing new; I was a very anxious child. Walking to school was a nightmare for me, as I was convinced that I would be kidnapped and never see my parents or sister again. I was afraid of vans without windows and mostly I was afraid of Bad Things That Could Possibly Happen To Me.
But this free floating anxiety I had as a child finally gelled into a fear (and deep fascination) of vampires. Somehow, being kidnapped wasn't as scary as being stalked by a vampire.
I'm an information junkie, so I went to my favorite place in the whole world, the library. As I was wont to do, I skipped the children's section of the library and headed straight over to the adult (and therefore inappropriate) scary section. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, book on astrology and tarot cards, I devoured them all. But it was the vampires I really wanted to read about.
Naturally, reading about vampires made me even more anxious, but I also gleaned some important information. Vampires disliked garlic and crosses. As a young girl, I had no idea where to get garlic, but I sure could make crosses - I went to Catholic school for goodness sakes -- I can make a cross in my sleep.
Making a cross seems fairly straightforward but I had limited tools, and had to make do with what was at hand. Instead of making silver crosses, I had to make do with………paperclips. I made dozens of these paperclip crosses, and hung them in my window, by the door to my room, stuffed under my pillow, just about anywhere I thought I could be caught unawares. I was also adept at making crosses with twigs from my backyard and the ever-popular popsicle sticks.
As the oldest child I, of course, had to share my irrational (but informative) fears with my younger sister. I don't remember her making paperclip crosses, but for years (and I'm really sorry about freaking you out, sorry, bad big sister behavior) she slept with one hand over her heart, and the other hand tucked behind her back.
This wildly uncomfortable sleeping position would seem ridiculous, except I had frightened her so much with my vampire lore that she figured out that if she slept that way …well, if a vampire came in the middle of the night and decided to stab her, she could use her hand on her chest to push the knife away. If the knife happened to pass through her chest, then the hand tucked behind her back would give her a second opportunity to push said knife out.
Why she thought that a vampire would stab her with a knife instead of sucking her blood was a mystery to me. But it makes perfect sense in the context of childhood fears. They don't have to be rational, they don't have to be accurate and they certainly don't have to have any basis in reality, or make sense in the sunlight.
(This is the part where I beg you to leave me comments - I really want to hear about your childhood fears and how you dealt with them. You know, like making crosses out of paperclips.)
Back to vampires. I read all the Anne Rice vampire series, and any other books that had vampires in them. And let's not forget the movies!
When I was under the age of 12, most television was off limits. My parents had very strict rules about what my sister and I could watch. Very heavy on the PBS selections, and that was about it. But, when I was 12, we moved to Santa Maria. My mother went back to work full-time, leaving my sister and me with much more freedom than we had previously. We could watch television in the afternoons and on the weekends. It was a never-ending television feast.
Naturally, my favorite program was, ‘Movie Macabre' with Elvira as the slinky hostess. "Movie Macabre' specialized in horrible B (or even C or D) films, and I couldn't get enough of them -- lots of vampires.
(Also, as an aside, remind me to tell you the story of why I am physically unable to eat pesto. Let's just say that I was watching, ‘Movie Macabre', and my dad was making pesto for lunch. He brought it up to the den where the television was, so we could eat together. He ate but I couldn't even choke down a single bite as the movie playing that day was about killer worms that came out of people's faces. It was awful. I still get teased by my dad about this. He'll make spaghetti, and announce that he has a new pesto recipe, one with pine nuts or whatever, and I will immediately feel as if vomiting is not far away. Ok, onwards.)
My craft making eventually subsided, which was good, because why I thought vampires would be deterred by crosses made of paperclips is beyond me. Or crosses made out of twigs and string.
As an adult, I continued to be fascinated by vampires. The other Anne Rice books came out and I read them all. I was in heaven when Francis Ford Coppola's, "Dracula" came out. Gary Oldman and Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder, when she was still a winsome young actress with the greatest wardrobe. And it's such a great movie. You should probably rent it and watch it this weekend.
And unless you've been living under a rock lately, you know what's coming next.
Yep, the ‘Twilight' books and movies. I have read all the ‘Twilight' books. Bear in mind that in college, I once took an entire semester class on the oeuvre of Willa Cather (you have no idea how much she wrote). I can take the high road with literature, and I can take the low road.
This is why I subscribe to People Magazine, and The New Yorker. I like a little bit of each.
So, yes, I have read all the books. And I LOVED them. I know -- the dialogue can be clunky. I find Bella to be a frustrating heroine, mostly because she can be whiny to degrees I would have thought impossible. But man, am I firmly on the side of Team Edward. He's the ultimate vampire -- sexy and vegetarian. Bella does not need to make paperclip crosses to keep Edward away, because he is her one true love, and he sleeps outside her window so she can always be in his sight. It's a little bit stalker-ish, but also romantic.
I got my sister hooked on the books too. She was so embarrassed to be caught reading them that she would order them from Amazon. That way she could receive them in a plain brown envelope, rather than having to go to the bookstore in person and pick up the books with their shiny embossed covers. I'm pretty sure that these days she isn't sleeping with one hand over her heart and the other tucked under her back.
When the first movie came out, my sweet husband took me to see it and not once did he shrink down in his seat in embarrassment. Now that's true love -- the kind of glue that keeps marriages together. I pretend to like watching UFC fighting on television, and my husband indulges me by taking me to see silly movies.
Yes, I will be seeing "New Moon" sometime this weekend.
I will love every bit, every frame of film, even though it will be a bit Jacob heavy, and not so much Edward. But I've seen a preview where Edward takes off his robe and -- oh my goodness -- this is why I am so glad that I'm not afraid of vampires anymore.
Go Team Edward!
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Nicole Freire is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.