O’ to Be a Vampire Bride

In the world of Amazon literature, one would assume that works with reviews numbering in the thousands and averages of four and a half stars would be limited to immortal classics like the Bible:

Holy Bible

Or period think-pieces like Go the F**k to Sleep:

Go the F to Sleep

They are not:

Vampire Girl

Terrifying?  Maybe not.  Not until one soaks in the knowledge that a statistical majority of 1,009 people like this book a lot.  In fairness, my wife and I might be among them, though for all the wrong reasons.  So buckle up, buttercup, because here comes the plot synopsis of Vampire Girl, quoted verbatim from Amazon:

My name is Arianna Spero. I was an ordinary girl, living an ordinary life, until my mother lapsed into a coma.  Now, I am her only hope. She made a deal with the devil, and on my 18th birthday he came to collect. But there’s a way to save her. There’s something the princes of hell want more than my mother.

Me.

So I signed my soul away and promised to pick a prince to marry. I would take the blood oath, become one of them, and give them an heir. I would become a princess of hell, and my mother would live.

If ever there was a book that needed a scene where the best friend, gay or otherwise, tried to talk some sense into the protagonist, this is it. Then again, Arianna does have a sassy, transgendered waitress friend (whom she is helping save up for gender reassignment surgery… because we’re a socially aware Vampire Girl, if nothing else).  But as you can deduce, that character seems to have a lot going on in his/her life and really wasn’t available to be the voice of reason this novel so desperately needed.  This acknowledged, we’ve taken the liberty of writing a new one in and plopping them down with the protagonist for coffee.  It goes about as well as you can imagine:

“So, my mom made a deal with Satan to save my life.  You know… when I was a baby.”

“That’s so sweet!”

“I know. But now she’s all, like, experiencing eternal torment in a lake of fire, and I feel really super bad. So… I’m making a deal with Satan to get her out.”

“Wait a minute… This all started because of a pact with Satan and you want to make another pact with Satan?”

“Uh… yeah?”

“…”

“…”

“Have you, maybe, considered that part of your family’s problem is that you keep making pacts with Satan?”

“I don’t get it.”

“…Father of Lies? The Beast? The Great Betrayer? None of this is ringing a bell?”

“Are we talking about the same Satan?  He seems super nice.”

“There’s only… OK. You know what? Let’s forget about Satan for a moment. So what’s this pact you signed on for?”

“Right, so I have to marry a vampire Prince of Hell and sire an heir.”

“…Vampire prince… Wait…”

“It’s cool. I get to pick, and they’re all really hot.”

“All? How many vampire princes of hell are there?”

“Seven.”

“Seven?”

“Yeah. Seven. They’re all manifestations of, like, the seven bad things.”

“Seven deadly sins?”

“Yeah. Glutton. Lust. Avarice. Pride. Sorrow. Pride. Sloth. War.”

“…Wrath.”

“What?”

“Wrath. The sin is wrath. You can be wrathful. You can’t really be warful.”

“But he’s War. See? Says so right here.” Time and space warps around Arianna as she pulls out a copy of Vampire Bride and points out that the Vampire Hell Prince is, indeed, the manifestation of War.

“…Huh. That’s… That’s something… Anyway, look, if you’re committed to this marrying a hell prince thing, why don’t you hook up with whoever is the embodiment of Lust, get as freaky weird as you can while still being a young adult novel, and be done in an afternoon?”

“Dean.”

“What?”

“Dean. His name is Dean. The manifestation of Lust.”

“…You’re !@#$in’ me.”

“No. See?” Again, time warps as she pulls out of the book. The name “Dean, Vampire Prince of Lust” appears repeatedly. “Besides, I have to spend a month with each.”

The best friend, whose sexual orientation is entirely moot, takes a deep breath. “Alright.  I’m going to summarize what I got. Because your mom made a pact with Satan, which ended–predictably–with her in a state of eternal torment, you’re going to make another pact with Satan, which involves shacking up with seven sin-inspired vampire hell princes for a month a piece. Then, you pick one to marry.”

“Right.”

“And then earn your mother’s eternal salvation by porking said Prince of Hell and having his kid.”

“Yep! And they’ll be the next King of Hell!”

“…Who’s the current King of Hell?”

“Satan.”

“…Isn’t he immortal? How can there be a next King of Hell?”

“He’s dead.”

“…Look, I want you to know that, as your best friend of ambiguous sexual orientation, I will support you no matter what you do.”

“Thanks!”

“But I’m still not coming to your wedding.”

“Awwwww! Well, that’s cool because vampire security is probably gonna be tight anyway, what with all the murderous fairies prowling around trying to kidnap me.”

“Fairies?  Like…Tinkerbell?  How would that even work?”

“More like Tinkerbell on ‘roids.  I totally don’t know what their problem is. The hell fairy slave trade is, like, so superior to the raping and pillaging alternative.”

“How did we get on the hell fairy slave trade?”

“I dunno.  Probably because I was about to tell you I’m also the Queen of the Fairies.”

“…This seems like information that should have been front loaded…”

“It comes out at the end of book one.”  Arianna grins and does her best jazz hands, “Spoiler alert!”

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Being a Man

“Have you wondered about what it means to be free in the face of your responsibilities as a man?  Have you chafed under the assumption that men are supposed to know everything?  Have you felt the pressures of meeting the expectations of females in your world?”  If so, the seventies called.  They want their hair back.

(Anyone else think he looks like he's giving her a great deal on a low mileage sedan?

Anyone else think he looks like he’s giving her a great deal on a low mileage sedan?

I am led to believe that the man of dubious grooming is one J. Kilgore.  Who, you might ask, is J. Kilgore?  Damned if I know, I reply, but I found two of his books on a table of free stuff.  The opening quote is from the back cover of Being a Man in a Woman’s World.

I’m waiting for the For Dummies version…or is that an oxymoron?

I’m waiting for the For Dummies version…or is that an oxymoron?

Given that I loathe most organized sports, am ambivalent towards automobiles, rely on my wife to kill spiders, and (most importantly) majored in English, it can be safely assumed that I need all the help “Being a Man” that I can get.

So do you even have go to the barber, or is that hair injection molded?

So do you even have go to the barber, or is that hair injection molded?

And, let me reiterate, the book was free.  I feel this is important to note.  That done, and so long as Kilgore’s tent revival hair isn’t contagious, I’m willing to give this a go.

Employing my usual “open the book at random and take things wildly out of context” strategy, I immediately turned to page twenty-seven where six bolded words asked, “What Kind of Man Are You?”  Intrigued, and a little intimidated, I read on: “If you find yourself uneasy, shy, and reserved, probably you will develop a ‘cowboy’ stance in life.  You may engage in heroic feats and enjoy your ‘silent strength.’  However, your loneliness in relationships will remain.  Very often your ‘bashfulness’ can be a manipulative way of getting attention from women.  You may have mastered, knowingly or unwittingly, the art of using your silent strength to turn on the admiration of women.  The maternal juices of many women flow strongly towards the shy and introverted man.”

Ignoring the obvious problems with that paragraph – namely, everything – I find Mr. Kilgore leaves me with one particularly burning question.  Specifically, what the hell is a “cowboy stance”?  I imagine it involves my feet extending out beyond my shoulders and my right hand hovering over my shooting iron, either because I’m getting ready to draw on Black Bart or because I’m saddle sore and in dire need of Preparation H.  As for the rest of it, I’m not certain I can recall the last time I’ve managed to manipulate someone with the raw power of my timidity – though I suppose it is possible that I simply didn’t understand the power of my silent strength at the time.  Ladies, let me take this opportunity to apologize…provided you promise not to hit me.  On a similar note, and from my fetal position here on the floor, I hope you won’t take offense when I ask that you kindly keep your maternal juices to yourself.  They don’t sound particularly hygienic, and this is my last clean shirt.

Did the Jedi Council break into focus groups or what?

Did the Jedi Council break into focus groups or what?

Not ten pages after the brilliant expose on what sort of man I am – i.e., highly defective – I encountered another bold subheading entitled “True Maturity.”  Since I’ve spent the last ten minutes, in adolescent fashion, questioning Kilgore’s gel/hair ratio, I figured the least I could do was give him an opportunity to give me a literary kick in the teeth.  Thus, I resumed reading.  “The greatest gift an adult woman has given to me as an adult man is the rediscovery of my ‘inner child.’ My wife is the ‘eternal child’ – ever fascinated with little accomplishments and always thrilled by the smallest of gifts.”  Uh…huh.  I’m not entirely certain what would happen were I to write the two previous sentences in regards to my own wife and publish them.  At the very least, I suspect it would preclude any need on my part to write a sequel.  Unless, of course, I didn’t object to it being published posthumously.

invisible kitteh

Deciding I shall always lack “True Maturity,” I continue leafing forward.  From page thirty-five, I make it to page thirty-one where I am presented with what promises to be the greatest chapter ever written.  Describing it with mere words will not suffice, as no one would ever believe me.  A picture must be employed.

BOY ARE THEY...oh…sorry, dear.

BOY ARE THEY…oh…sorry, dear.

I…I don’t even know where to begin.  Fate, working through J. Kilgore and his hair, has conspired to provide me with the ultimate comedic set-up.  But now that it’s here, I don’t know where to go with it.  Opportunity, far from merely knocking, has barged in, drunk all the wine, and passed out on my sofa, but the only thing I can think to do is wait for it to sober up and leave.

Enough.  Forty-one pages in is where we shall end our voyage of self-discovery.  This is purely for my own protection.  I’m starting to get this strange urge to watch NASCAR while crushing beer cans on my forehead.  If I don’t go read some Jane Austen stat, I’m going to end up in Lambeau Field when it’s forty below wearing nothing but green and yellow paint and a giant piece of Styrofoam cheese on my head.  In short, I’m not sure I’m ready to “Be A Man.”

Is...that the Fonz?

Is…that the Fonz?

Pride & Prejudice & Unicorns

It happens to us all eventually – the loss of innocence.  The moment where we, as human beings, understand that our place in the cosmos is under the great galactic millstone that shall render us all into so much irrelevant particulate matter.  For some of us, it is triggered at a relatively young age by the death of the family iguana or the sudden realization that a great many people are, essentially, doo-doo heads.

For me, it happened around the age of twenty-five, in a Wisconsin public library, when I learned there were sequels to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.  The image is burned into my mind – my fingers tracing lightly along the spines of assorted tomes, coming to rest on the purported sequel, the subsequent bafflement as to why someone had bothered to write a sequel to a book that, like most everything Austen ever penned, contains 350 pages of dithering followed by a marriage proposal.

Still, I withdrew it from the shelf, cradled it with a reverence most becoming of an English major, and proceeded to have three thoughts in the order with which they are listed here.

The first, formulated upon viewing the front cover: “When did Mr. Darcy get so ripped?

The second, a result of attempting to flip through the pages and deduce the content: “Why are the pages stuck together?”

The third, as I came to understand the text in question revolved primarily around the protagonists’, ahem, marital bliss: “…I NEED TO WASH MY HANDS!”

After a trip to the restroom, the development of a drinking problem, and several years of counseling, I’ve come to understand that Pride & Prejudice & Pornography is very nearly a genre unto itself.  However, were I not jaded enough, I’ve come to discover authors (though here I use the term loosely) are no longer content confining Elizabeth’s libido to subsequent volumes.  No, if you search on Amazon for editions of Pride & Prejudice, you will find this returned on the first page of search results:

Pride & Prejudice: The Wild & Wanton Edition

Yes, the “Wild & Wanton” edition.  Care to see a bit of the synopsis?  Oh, I think you do.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife…in bed. Unfortunately, you’ve never been able to see Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam indulging their every desire between the sheets – until now. In this deliciously naughty update of the beloved classic, you can peek behind the closed doors of Pemberley’s master bedroom – and revel in the sexual delights of your favorite couple.”

Ignoring, for a moment, the bastardization of Austen’s famous line in a manner that would send an eighteenth century literary scholar into an apoplectic fit, the only word I really take issue with is “unfortunately,” which needs a qualifier – something to the effect of, “Unfortunately, if you live alone and possess twice your body weight in cats […].”

Part of me is horrified, as such is obligatory.  But part of me also wants to investigate the legalities of a conflation between the above and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

We’ll call it Pride & Prejudice & Wild & Wanton Zombies.  I am not going to speculate further.

But assuming some peculiar combination of copyright and taste, the former being fungible and the latter being unlikely, prevent my opus from coming to be, let it be noted I have a backup plan:

Pride & Prejudice & Unicorns

Why unicorns?

Because you have to be a virgin to touch one.