The prospect of a real vampire among us probably seems far-fetched. After all, we may know people who can suck the life out of a situation, but they’re not normally hanging off the nape of the neck; they’re hogging the left lane on the way to work or telling us a tedious tale when we’re trying to eat a sandwich.
That’s why the announced appearance of Father Sebastiaan van Houten at the Everhart Museum in Scranton seemed so promising. The museum, hosting an exhibit called “The Blood is the Life,” invited the self-proclaimed vampyre (his spelling), impresario and host of the Vampire Ball in NYC, Paris and New Orleans to our town to discuss his unorthodox lifestyle.
Turns out vampires are a lot like the rest of us. Instead of sporting slicked back black hair accentuated by a widow’s peak, Father Sebastian looked like a roadie for Poison. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. You certainly can’t judge a book by its cover, except in the case of books about vampires. I just checked a bunch on amazon.com quickly and they were all pretty lousy. The books remind me of the countless unsold romance paperbacks I used to dispose of in the book department at Kmart every few months, featuring some shirtless dude and a needy concubine in a flimsy corset. But, I digress.
The reason I went to this lecture was to learn about elegant and refined aristocracy with peculiar traits associated with lonely nights on the plains of Transylvania that culminate with an upended casket and a stake dripping with blood. Instead, I have the feeling that today’s vampires are busy watching “The Matrix,” gyrating to Lady Gaga at a trendy disco and considering the religious symbolism of Star Wars and “the force.” Vampires seem to enjoy the nightlife, but it’s more about partying on the graveyard shift instead of creeping around in one.
Father Sebastiaan explained there were vampires and non-vampires in the audience of his lecture, a point never demonstrated by anything tangible like tiny flapping wings or a sore throat. He discussed the three types of modern day practitioners of vampirism: Blood drinking vampires, psychic vampires who feed off of other people’s emotional energy and living vampires, embracing a philosophy and spirituality that is both ancient and modern.
Father Sebastian pointed out the blood drinkers think they need to quench their thirst for life in this bizarre fetish that lacks any sort of scientific validity. It also sounds pretty gross and is known to be dangerous and icky.
Psychic vampires are the most believable type of creatures to me. In the regular people’s world, we call them “social murderers.” They literally suck every ounce of energy out of the room and make you run the other way when you spot them at a distance of 100 yards. Or, you allow them to sap all your energy by recounting details about all nine innings of a t-ball game or what’s so great about the new episode of “American Idol.” Here’s my advice to you to avoid psychic vampirism: Run. Away. Now.
The living vampire sounds a lot like a club hopping hipster who enjoys black clothing because it hides red wine spills and makes you look thinner.
Eh, to each his own. At the end of the day, we learned Father Sebastiaan is pretty much like that effete college prof who wears groovy boots and an ankh, and is a master of the non-sequitur. Although you expect Dracula, turns out you’re the sucker.