In Plenary on November 14, 2010 at 4:32 pm

There are vampires in Spain. But then you knew that, didn’t you?

Because they’re everywhere; as much a part of our world as we are. Children should be taught to look out for them. Not vampire children, obviously – the other ones.

Don’t believe everything you read in the literature. They’d hardly be very difficult to spot, would they, flying around on batwings, fangs dripping with the blood of their latest victim? If it was that easy I imagine we’d have dealt with the problem a long time ago. Tales of seductive counts, entranced maidens, crosses and stakes through the heart should be taken with a pinch of salt.

And let’s clear something up for once and for all – it’s not your blood they’re after. That would be the almost equally annoying mosquito. No, what vampires want, and what they’re very good at getting, is your joy.

Most of us mistake them for people, most of the time. We often describe them as “exhausting” or “draining”. They aren’t people though – they’re vampires. And they are neither draining nor exhausting – they’re feeding.

Have you ever had a house guest who insulted your things, your home, your family pictures, your partner and who then refused to leave? That was a vampire.

A colleague who made a remark at work which resulted in your being unable to sleep for two nights straight? Vampire.

Wake up feeling fresh, energetic, giddy with joie de vivre and ready to take on the world. Then spend ten minutes in the company of a vampire and feel yourself suppressing the rage, holding back the tears…

If you can’t relate to any of this by the way, you probably are a vampire. They’re not renowned for their self-awareness so you might want to get yourself checked out. Also, have a look behind you the next time you’re taking your leave of someone. If they’re weeping, or aiming something heavy and sharp at you, you’re a vampire. If one of them looks like they’re comforting the other in some way, or if they appear to be doing their breathing excercises, you may be undead.

I’ve personally had to deal with a couple of vampires recently. One of them took up residence on a bench in the street around the corner. I, and around half the population of the town, have to pass by the bench each day as we go about our business. Two weeks ago this woman appeared and “moved into” the bench. She has been sleeping on it, hanging her clothes on it, sitting on it while she washes her feet and verbally abusing passersby and so on. A hostile takeover of a public space. It has been unpleasant (draining) to navigate this stretch of the street during this time. The other morning I heard a commotion – raised voices – and went down to see what was happening. By the time I got down there whatever it was had already happened but the woman was gone and the local business owners were huddled around talking. A police vehicle was leaving.

That was it; as in so many vampire/monster movies the townspeople had risen up and rid themselves of a demonic presence. The following day there was a palpable sense of levity and relief in the street. As I passed the bench that day I noticed that in a little plant pot beside it the woman had been growing something from seed in a plastic bottle she had fashioned into a mini-greenhouse. It occurred to me that this was not particularly vampire-like behaviour.

My thoughts turned to the mental health issues and the tragic story that she undoubtedly had and I admonished myself for not showing more compassion. It’s difficult, though, to be compassionate towards someone (thing?) as they (it?) stride away from you, smug and bloated, your joy dripping from their chin. Maybe she wasn’t a vampire after all, maybe she was just an unfortunate woman I shouldn’t be so harsh towards.

The other one definitely is though; I’m sure of it…

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  1. Good story!! I have a habit of keeping vampires out of my life!! Try it! They’re just bloody annoying!! Cheers.

  2. good story robin. im actually sleeping on a mates floor at the moment. going to try and keep myself out of the vampire category! there used to be a guy that spent a lot of time on a bench where i used to lunch. it seemed to be his birthday about once every four days. happiest man alive. got a category for these people whose joy is infectious?

    • There’s a vampire way to sleep on someone’s floor and a non-vampire way and I’m sure you’re doing fine. Also that is a great question – I’ve met people that you just seem to “catch” happy from and they probably deserve a post but my grumpy mind came up with the vampires one first – I’ll work on it…

  3. Great post! When I first saw the title I thought it was about the Mexican dish of the same name. It’s essentially a cheese quesadilla with meat in it. Pretty tasty, though admittedly the name turned me off for some time. 🙂

  4. Good post. I think most of us have encountered these kinds of vampires from time to time. They really can take your joy away — even if just for a moment. I think your point about the woman on the bench is very compassionate. I’m sure that most of the people that were annoyed by her never gave her circumstances a thought.

  5. Nice article, I wish I could share a story on the Malaysian Vampires (Pontianak)


  6. Thanks Cathy. There was something about the woman that screamed interesting story but I doubt anyone will be getting close enough to her anytime soon to hear it. Sad.
    And thanks David. I’m intrigued about these Malaysian vampires…

  7. Great post Robin. Kent and I have made a concerted effort to rid ourselves of vampires. We do try to be VERY aware of those things that deplete us. It sounds so simple but I thin a lot of people go through life without ever saying; “Wait, I don’t HAVE to spend my time with this person. I have a choice here.” Unfortunately, that means I almost never see my family! =)

    For what it’s worth, you are an excellent writer.

  8. Great analogy! I wasn’t expecting this post to be about “real” vampires! I used to have some vampire friends who I no longer allow myself to speak to. 🙂 Love the post, Robin!

  9. Great post with an unexpected twist. I have vampires in my German class. They suck the life out of me and as I can’t get rid of them, am working on changing my attitude instead!

  10. How could I have missed this story??? Just as well I went looking, because I wanted to say how nice it is that you have experienced such kindness in the Middle East too and, btw, I just saw we both have written for many places in common, among them literary traveler which you don’t find often.

  11. Yes I enjoyed your Riad story on LT!

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