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Replacing the Undead



At the risk of shaking my liver-spotted fist at the kids who just won't get off my lawn, I have to admit that I liked the '80s vampires better.

Not that I was into that fad -- I swear I only wore that flowing, black cape on Halloween -- but at least '80s vampires came from locations more interesting than Phoenix or Bon Temps: --- In those days, vampires moped around New Orleans, put on little avant-garde shows in Paris and formed cheesy hair bands in San Francisco. They were all kinda bi-curious. Unlike the 12-step therapy-group problems today's vampires seem to suffer, back then, their fatal flaws were all operatic, ego-driven and philosophical.

Actually, now that I think about it, the '80s vampires were just as dorky as today's -- it's just that Anne Rice didn't have TV commentators promoting her books and movies every 10 minutes. Rice's vampire trilogy had a little underground, counter-cultural panache for awhile. The endless mediocre spinoffs and movie adaptations didn't come until years later -- and when they did, they pretty much sucked (haha!) anyway.

In all likelihood, the Anne Rice fad was just as annoying to the middle-age geezers of the time as today's vampire craze seems to me. So, history repeats itself.

I'm pretty sure it was witches that came before vampires back then -- I don't think there was any interstitial zombie craze. Unfortunately, the middle-age geezer mind is not quite the steel trap it once was, and I'm finding it difficult to remember what mytho-cultural token finally replaced the vampire -- it wasn't elves, surely, or goblins. Maybe space aliens?

I do remember lobbying for werewolves. The tragic, furry mysteries of the were-set have gone largely unplumbed in fantasy geekdom, with the exception of a Hogwart's professor here and there. (Or did I hear that there was a werewolf character in the Stephenie Meyer books? If so, there's probably some twist, like he's a vegan, and once a month he locks himself in a room with 130 pounds of tofu. Or something like that.)

It would be fun if the next fad were something more strange and complicated -- merfolk, perhaps (the most serious devotees, fearing dehydration, would have themselves wheeled around in tubs of saltwater). Or Mother Goose characters (breeches for men; milkmaid costumes for women -- so attractive). Or what about the Djinn? At least the historical Persian costumes are colorful.

OK, OK -- I really don't mind that the kids and TV commentators are having fun with their vampires right now. There are worse things they could be doing than drinking Clamato from crystal dragon goblets. But something else is bound to replace those bloodsuckers sooner or later -- wouldn't it be wise to figure out our options now, rather than leaving things to chance?

After all, if we wait until it's too late, chances are we'll end up getting stuck with five more years of space-alien probes. And we middle-age geezers remember how inconvenient those were.