Monday, November 23, 2009
Can You Really Find and Date a Vampire?
I supposed I asked for it.
My book How to Catch and Keep a Vampire is starting to raise questions like this one, and I realized it would be handy to have a blog post that addressed it, so I’d have a spot to refer those inquiring along these lines. For example, a fan of the book recently asked me, “I want to meet a vampire, but I’m too shy to approach one, especially since they are so attractive...what can I do to get over my shyness?”
So let me start by saying, I have an aversion to being a buzzkill, especially when the “buzz” involves being imaginative. For example, let’s say you’re talking to fellow fans of a TV series. Let’s work with the example of “True Blood.” Everyone is going off about how much they’d love to date Bill, how cool it would be to talk to him about Civil War days, how dreamy his eyes are, etc. I’m not going to be the one to say, “Look guys, there is no Bill, and I doubt that Stephen Moyer knows anything special about the Civil War.” Au contraire, I’m going to be the one saying, “If Bill came to Milwaukee, I wonder where I’d take him on a first date.”
Recently at one of my book signing appearances, an obviously very intelligent and mature teen girl asked me, “Have you had imaginary friends?” I said (with total honesty), “Only like dozens! I have them right now, several of them.” And this girl proceeded to tell me about her imaginary friend with wonderful enthusiasm, very much as if he were real. Maybe someone not like me would have said to her, “Aren’t you a little old for this?” But think about it a minute: she said “imaginary friend.” It’s not like she’s deceiving herself that the guy is real, in a flesh-and-blood way. It’s just that she’s clever enough to take him just as seriously as her flesh-and-blood friends. And in my opinion, she should.
So, if you really must have me say it in black-and-white: No, I have not dated any real vampires. No, I am not in my book offering tips for finding real vampires and going out with them. But what fun is it to dwell on that?
The fact is, I (and millions of other people) have hung out with vampires in our imaginations. As well as with pirates, space aliens, satyrs, etc. Well, fewer with the satyrs I’m sure. Our inner, imaginative lives mean a lot to us. We’d like to understand them, know how to handle them, realize ways of making them more interesting and helpful. And that, if you must know, is why I wrote my book.
Now if you know anything about effective fantasizing, you know Rule #1 is to set aside reality. At the climax of the play, the villain is not going to turn to the audience, “breaking the fourth wall” as they say, and tell them “You do realize I’m not really going to kill the hero in this scene--we’re just acting.” Just as you get to the moment of the hot love scene in your bedtime fantasy, you do not tell yourself “I must keep in mind I’m not really Hugh Jackman’s girlfriend.”
On the contrary, effective pretending is enhanced by anything you can do to make it seem more real. Why do you think so many people get a charge out of seeing there’s a Web site for Oceanic Airlines? Or buying a four-pack of TruBlood from the HBO Store? Or following Dexter on Twitter? Of course you know you can’t buy tickets on an Oceanic flight to get to the Lost island. You know there’s soda, not synthetic blood, in those bottles. And you know some marketing person is posting as Dexter. But what fun is it to dwell on those facts?
I suppose in the interest of full disclosure and so I don’t get sued by someone, I have to go on record in this regard. But it’s not like I’m enjoying having to write this post.
The way I truly prefer to reply to the girl asking about her shyness problem is this: Don’t worry...the happy thing is that vampires, with their mind-control talents, can simply hypnotize you into not being so shy. Just walk up to the vampire in question, showing off the red satin ribbon on your wrist, and he’ll be happy to solve the problem for you.
That’s my “story,” and I’m sticking to it. Get it? Good.