My husband has put up with it for years. My sister and I have a pact about it. If I wake up in the middle of the night and it’s not done, I’ll do it.
I believe with every fiber of my being that if I go to bed without pulling the covers up to my chin, vampires are going to somehow not only be alerted but also line up for a slurp of my A positive. Perhaps brag to their friends to my piquant taste and vintage bouquet. Sell raffle tickets in the Vampire Gazette for a tasty drink of my blood.
I have my good buddy Stephen King to thank for this, as one of the many times I was shoved out of the house and told to go find something to do during the summer, I went to the library and picked up the book ‘Salem’s Lot. At the tender age of 14 or so, I think that my mother probably should have been monitoring my weekly library checkouts a little more carefully. It’s one more blame to hang on the maternal mantle.
At this point, I don’t remember if we rented the movie ‘Salem’s Lot or it was on a special TV night, but in the end, does it matter? What matters is I became familiar with the bloodsucker material along with my brother and sister, who are four and six years younger than I, putting them at 10 and six at the time of the viewing.
Fourteen, ten and six, people, and we’re watching ‘Salem’s Lot. Floating vampires outside your window, using their squeaky talons to request access into the home. Let me in, they’d say. I’m so cold.
We probably should have flipped the channel to something more age appropriate; for instance, Little House on the Prairie? Zoom? Flip Wilson? The Sonny and Cher Show or Donny and Marie? No one flipped the channel, however, and there we all sat, glued to the TV.
After watching this movie, whichever of us kids drew the short straw to take the dog out would skreek our fingernails down the bay windows to make the exact noise of the flying Glick boys in the movie, giggling the entire time. We said we were doing it to scare the others but I think it was more that we wanted a connection, no matter how tenuous, to the people inside while we were outside, with things unseen in the dark, and a big, stupid dog that would rather sniff 1100 things rather than pee.
It was only funny until bedtime. At that point, lying in bed and frozen with fear, that shit got real. Any sound, especially crickets, began to resemble the sound of those long, green, brittle, broken fingernails scraping the windows. Looking for entrance. Begging the children of the household to obey their trancelike urges and open the window or door to let them in.
For a quick snack, that’s all.
It was at that point, 32 years ago, that I began pulling the covers up as high as I could to cover every inch of neck that might be exposed.
I never forgot. I never relaxed.
Fast forward to every single night after that. When it’s time for bed, I brush my teeth; kick the 130 pound Labrador out of the way long enough to slide under the flannel sheets and…
This part is important. Stay with me.
I AM 51 YEARS OLD. I still pull the covers right up to my chin. Still. And that’s where they remain, even when my icy-footed husband kicks the giant black creature fully out of our bed and climbs in. Even when he gets into bed and I reluctantly allow him a meager portion of our covers. Once he is settled I simply retuck the covers around my neck. My husband is long used to this procedure. Sometimes he even does it for me. I think it’s husbandly concern but it’s more likely he’s just indulging me and my weirdness.
Yes, I’m afraid of vampires, folks. Not to the point where I can’t read about them or watch movies about them (hello, Lost Boys). I’m fine during the day. But nighttime? Nighttime is a different story, ever since I saw that ‘Salem’s Lot movie and countless vampire movies since. My vampire phobia strikes at night, when my mind is a little more open to those sorts of things. When I’m a little more vulnerable.
I have a feeling–sometimes a certain resolute knowledge–that at night, a sly vampire is crouching in a corner of my room, waiting for the exact moment when I forget to pull the blankets up high enough, leaving a tiny, succulent strip of skin exposed. The one watching me from the corner is the same one who has been assigned to watch me since I was 14. He’s not cute. There’s nothing sexy about him. He’s not suave like George Hamilton was in “Love at First Bite.” I imagine he’s got glittery eyes. Yellow skin. Long, sharp teeth. Stringy hair.
He also has unholy patience, which is why I cannot let my guard down for even one minute. He’s a vampire who means business.
My extreme vamp phobia even caused me to call my sister one time a few years ago, in a complete panic, just to make sure she knew that if I was ever in a coma, she needed to come in every night and pull my covers up to my chin so that the vampire wouldn’t be able to bite me in the middle of the night.
Without even batting an eye, she agreed and had a condition of her own; if she was ever in a coma I had to come and pluck any chin hairs.
It’s a price I’m willing to pay.