By Janey Pancake
There is something I must disclose, Dears. The information I speak of is hardly mind-blowing and certainly doesn’t make me more interesting, but I feel compelled to share it with you nonetheless because it is a tangential means to the end, a necessary tid-bit to get to the other side of this post.
I am a sucker (har!) for Vampires.
I know. I know. So what? You are probably thinking and rightly so – a lot of people like the vampires. Tales and folklore about them have been around for centuries and they continue to be a main staple of popular culture to this very minute – Entertainment Weekly sported two Vampires (Edward Cullen of Twilight notoriety and Vampire Bill Compton of True Blood fame, respectively) on the cover of their vampire-centric issue just last week (and more on that later, if you bear with me.) My love for the genre began at a young age – my father was a huge fan of horror literature (H.P. Lovecraft was a favorite of his) and I desperately wanted my father to find me interesting – which for me meant reading the same books that dad liked. The year that I attempted to read Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot was, by coincidence, the same year that a priest in our school showed us the film by the same name as a treat. I was nine years old. The film gave me nightmares for two years. It seriously scared the itchy, maroon, school-uniform pants right off of me – also? I loved it. Since then I have enjoyed many different horror novels, though none give me quite the same thrill as those featuring vampires. Anne Rice, Poppy Z. Brite, Steven Brust and Elizabeth Kostova are favorites of my past, though I have enjoyed, in one way or another, the offerings of Stephanie Meyer (author of Twilight – don’t judge me) and Charlane Harris (author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels upon which the show True Blood* is based.) Which brings us full-stop back to August 7th issue of Entertainment Weely that I mentioned earlier. EW featured a piece called “The 20 Greatest Vampires” comprised of vampires from film, television and literature. As it happens, I had just finished Charlane Harris’ series and was in the mood for more blood-sucker-themed goodies to read and here was a guide made just for me! It was number 13 on the 20 Greatest Vampires list what caught my eye – Jean Claude from Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, which takes place in St. Louis, MO. I was intrigued and decided to take my business to our nearest book seller.
So, my infant son, toddler daughter and sister Anne (of Walkman Junkie fame) accompanied me on my quest for summer reading. It is important that I mention this, as last week Anne wrote about her natural affinity for attracting “touched” individuals of the batshit-crazy persuasion. Anne also mentioned that this particular gift was not only genetic, but one that is magnified tenfold when any or all of the siblings are together. You can see where this is heading.
I should have seen it too. It took all of five, maybe ten seconds of me standing in the Sci-fi/Fantasy section before a man approached and asked me if I was finding everything okay. Without looking in the direction of his voice, I answered that I was in the right section, but that the Anita Blake series appeared to have about 25 books in it and that I wasn’t sure where to begin. He was standing to my right and – as it happens, I am blind in my right eye and couldn’t see him – just as I began to rotate my head around to make eye-contact, the smell hit me…and it was already too late. I mention the smell, not to be cruel, but because it is important. This aroma was a Job Ending Odor – people who smell like this don’t stay employed for very long – which was my first clue that the man I was speaking to was not only NOT an employee of the bookstore (as he briefly led me to believe) but also crazy. His appearance confirmed what I had already assumed and here I had already made the two most grievous errors when dealing with the mentally-unhinged: I had both spoken to him and made eye-contact. As a non-employee of Barnes and Noble, this man was unable to help me – though this did not stop him from suggesting several other books that he thought I might be interested in – all of which he described in painstaking, plot-spoiling detail. Mentally I checked out while he went on and on with increasing enthusiasm, hearing only bits and pieces like, “red-headed witch”, “supernatural, vampire-law-firm”, “a pixie this big” and “all the books are named after Clint Eastwood films”. My sister, eyes cast to the floor, was slowly backing away from me at this point. While I am grateful that she had the wherewithal to take my daughter with her, my son (helplessly attached to me in a sling) and I were left in the cross-hairs of the Crazytown Mayor with very few escape options. I could either climb the adjacent bookshelf and back-flip my way to safety ninja-style or I could abruptly excuse myself and walk away. The first option would have taken less time, but in the end I opted with the latter.
Upon reflection, given my literary preferences, I kind of wish that I had listened to my nutty comrade – the book about the supernatural, vampire law firm with a red-headed witch lawyer and her pixie-this-big-assistant sounds nothing short of awesome. I wonder which Clint Eastwood movie it was named after…
*I effing LOVE True Blood. It is one of the funniest shows I have ever seen and if you share my inclinations for this type of thing, then I implore you to watch this show posthaste.