Thursday, February 19, 2009

I Never Drink... Dr. Pepper

You know what I haven't done in a while? Of course you do. I haven't done a genre post in a while, something in the lines of my discussions of tarot cards, paladins, and ghosts. In honor of the Vampire: the Requiem play-by-post game I am joining, The Smallest Gear (which could use more players, so if you're interested...), today I will write about vampires.

There was a time that I loved vampires. For reference, this was during high school. In college, our relationship cooled. I broke up with vampires my Junior year to date Exalted (and, you know, the Abigail), but while it was good, it was good. I didn't just play in Vampire: the Masquerade Live Action Role Play (LARP, for the uninitiated)... I ran a Vampire: the Masquerade LARP (in fact, Unmasqued is still running, though I haven't been on the Storytelling crew for years).

One of the reasons the vampires were fond of me is that I didn't like them for the same reasons everyone else did. Oh, sure, vampires are sexy, smooth, and full of a scrumptious blend of evil and sophistication (and, you know, blood). They are life-in-death and death-and-sex, the beast the puberty plants deep in all our souls.

I'm not going to keep going, because everyone knows this already.

To be honest, my love affair with vampires began with Anne Rice. And while the sexiness, the darkness, and the struggle against the inner monstrous were all great, what I loved was the tragedy of it. Something bad happened to you - you were seduced by the wrong girl, you were in the wrong place at the wrong time and some guy dragged you off the street, you caught the eye of evil uncle Vlad - and then it's in you. You've got power (and sex and death), but now you've got a hunger, and there's only one way to feed it. What are you going to do now?

It's a theme I'm extremely fond of, though I haven't mentioned it before. I call it "Now What?" One moment changes everything, and how do you restructure your life now. In conventional fiction, the Now Whats are more conventional: your husband cheated on you, now what? You lost your job, now what? You're drafted by the army, now what? In fantastic fiction, the options are broader - your father is a mountain and your mother is a washing machine, now what? - but the spirit is the same. Everything is different, things you thought were never possible are at your fingertips, things you thought were sure are now impossible; what do you do next?

In other words, I like vampirism less as a metaphor for sex and more as a metaphor for disease. Is it any wonder that my character in The Smallest Gear is a former junkie, HIV+, transformed into a vampire by a tainted bloodline that can only feed in the infected?

The second theme I find present in vampires - and I know I've mentioned this before - is "The World of Transaction." Nothing is free, in the real world or in fantasy. Everything comes with a price. Some prices are worth paying, and some aren't, and figuring out which is which is the business of living your life. Vampires epitomize this, because they get so much, and they pay so much for it. Tremendous physical strength! Mesmerizing Eyes! Transformation! Immortality! All you need to do is give up your right to walk in sunlight and be a real part of the human world and play host to a ravening hunger for the blood of your fellow man. Sign here; satisfaction guaranteed.

So, at this point, my ideal story would be a vampire paladin and his tarot card reading ghostly girlfriend.

I'm reasonably sure that there's something wrong with me.

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