I was minding my own beeswax reading a magazine on the subway recently when I noticed all these teenage girls staring at me. They whispered to each other, giggled and pointed. Finally, I caught my reflection in a window and figured out the cause of the hullabaloo.
Robert Pattinson, the vampire dude from Twilight, was on the cover of my Vanity Fair.
What’s the big whoop? Sure, Pattinson is lovely in a James Dean knockoff way. But because of him, legions of adult women and their daughters are fantasizing about waifish boys flying down from the skies to fang them in the craw. Boggles the mind.
Maybe the vampire thing doesn’t do it for me because I have trouble getting turned on by scenarios that could never happen. Or maybe because I actually dated a vampire.
Ivan was a darkly handsome Eastern European I met in Spain. As a doorman at Madrid’s skankiest dive bar, he was first in a long line of dumb romantic choices I made whilst under the Iberian moon. I had no solid proof Ivan was a vampire, though there were tell-tale signs. His hometown was right next to Transylvania. He slept all day in a room with the curtains drawn and only lived his life at night. He liked meat cooked so rare it could’ve sung show tunes before he ate it. He pronounced “I want” like “I vant,” as in “I vant to suck your blood.” Eerie, eh?
But the strongest evidence of Ivan’s vampireness was how possessive he was, how his affections invaded my soul, how determined he became to drain the life out of me and make me his forever. He needed to see me all the time, needed to pick at every seam of my psyche, needed to share all his demons with me. Ivan was an energy sucker, a soul sucker. A blood sucker.
Ivan also had a secret life which, like the dweeb in Twilight, he knew would put me in danger should it be revealed. And so, our love could never truly be.
I assume the whole forbidden love malarkey is what gets chicks all giddy about this latest vampire tale. Screw that. You know what’s romantic and sexy? Falling madly in love with someone and having the chance to be with them without constantly battling obstacles. Like werewolves.
Or mafias. This was Ivan’s secret. He was in the friggin’ mob. I found out when he got a call in the middle of the night then left to “do a job” that required brass knuckles and a crow bar. He sort of admitted his mafia ties when other irrefutable evidence presented itself. And I was the numbskull who stuck around for a while to enjoy the thrill of it all.
We like to believe there are deeper layers to life, hidden worlds where incredible passion and danger lurks. If we’re special, the creatures inhabiting those other worlds will let us in, thus leading us to our own dark and sexy places.
I lingered in Ivan’s world of intense ardor and danger because I wanted to become more alive. With him, I got a tour of my own depths, saw how fiery my feelings are, how impassioned my soul can get. Ivan led me to my own dark and sexy places, but they were mine to discover. And I haven’t left them since.
I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone go looking for a mafia boyfriend in order to self-actualize. But I do pose a dare to all these Twilight fans. Go a little deeper. Maybe put down the book and step out of the theater. Gut-wrenching passion, spine-tingling eroticism and soul-stirring intimacy don’t have to be consigned to fantasy. You don’t need a vampire to make your blood hot. You just need a little courage.