A Night at the Adult Arcade
I met a vampire, so of course I'm going to write a story about it, because it's not every day you meet a vampire. The reason for this, obviously, being that vampires don't come out during the day as they are afraid of light, or something like that. They burst into flames. Boo-hoo. Pity the vampire. Nonetheless, I met this vampire one night at the Adult Arcade, which is an arcade for adults. What images are brought to your filthy little head when I say this? You think the games are all pornographic? You think everyone is on the floor playing strip Twister? No, not everything fits into your perverted little sex fantasies. And let me say right now, the vampire wasn't female, nor was he homosexual, so this story isn't going down that route either. He was a depressed vampire, for some dumb ass reason, and he wanted to die. Apparently he had been at home, watching all these vampire movies, and it made him all introspective and suicidal. A suicidal vampire. So why doesn't he just go outside and let the sun turn him to ash? I asked him this. He said he was afraid. What a pansy. I offered to stab him in the heart but he just shrugged. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I hate the arcade, and the Adult Arcade is no better. It's essentially a normal arcade, except they serve beer. So it's a bar fused with an arcade. It's one of those clever concept bars for yuppies and pretentious college kids who can't enjoy anything unless its ironic. I have been accused of being a very ironic, sarcastic person myself, but I don't enjoy it. I sympathize with the suicidal vampire. I'm too much of a whimp to walk into the sunlight as well. Metaphorically speaking.
So, we have this arcade, okay, and it's the setting for this stupid little story that's really only being written because I'd feel as if I was doing a disservice to humanity if I met a vampire and didn't write about it. I am a brilliant writer, and my take on the whole vampire phenomenon needs to be jotted down. I didn't believe in vampires until I met one, and frankly, I'm still not sure I believe in them now, but I know I met one, and he wasn't just claiming to be one like those stupid goth kids that wear all black and cover their face in white make-up. Even the males do this. Everyone is wearing make-up these days. Now, there may be those who follow feminism and things of that sort, and they may think (or fear, if they're a guy like me) that all woman are eventually going to stop shaving their legs and all that nice stuff. I don't think this is the case, in fact, I think quite the opposite will happen. Look at the way men make themselves look all stylish these days. I don't know about you, but I just wake up in the morning, throw on some dirty underwear (I sleep nude, you see), grab a dirty shirt, some dirty pants, and walk out the door. I usually forget my shoes and socks completely, which is no good, because the ground outside is rough and hurts my sensitive feet. I have very sensitive feet for some reason. It's probably because Bambi, my anthropologist sex-partner, enjoys sucking on my toes. The girl's got some problems. What person in their right mind would enjoy sucking on someone's toes? My feet fucking smell like dead cat. Which reminds me of something really funny I read in an advice column once about the purpose of cats, or something like that, and I would relay it to you but I can't, not out of fear of plagiarism but because I honestly don't remember what the column said well enough to write it down.
What the hell was I talking about? Vampires. That's right. To tell you the truth, the vampire story isn't even all that interesting. If it was anyone besides a vampire who started talking to me at this arcade and starting saying these things he said, I probably wouldn't even have remembered the incident a few hours later. It's a bit of a miracle that I remember the incident at all, as I drank quite a lot, since there was nothing else to do there besides play stupid fucking video games. The place had every type of video game you can imagine. It had the old fashion retro shit, which the kids undoubtedly liked for ironic purposes, like Pong and PacMan and Mrs. PacMan and Space Invaders and Mrs. PacMan has Sex with Space Invaders which Upsets PacMan and He Kills Her and Plays Pong with Her Head. I actually have to admit to enjoying that game, unironically at that. I enjoy it with all the sincerity in my soul.
Along with the old games, the Adult Arcade has all the new shit as well, which at times can borderline on the pornographic, especially if violence counts as pornography, which I think it should on some basic level. Take the action movie for instance. What is it but pornography, a flick designed to get you off, designed to please you not on an intellectual level, but on some basic, penis-related level. And let's not kid ourselves here. There's intellectual pornography as well, to instigate the intellectual masturbation all the pretentious kids who like irony take part in so much. Some people call it philosophy. That's a misleading name. It's just intellectual pornography.
So I walk into the arcade slash bar slash place I wish I didn't have to be and notice all the elaborate games with people strapped to harnesses and sticking their genitals in slots and using their head as a joy-stick. That's an exaggeration. It is a very popular literary device used to describe the mood of a setting while not necessarily describing the literal events taking place. The mood was very orgasmic. Everyone was, in effect, humping their little video games. And most of them were drunk. I didn't really have a problem with the drunkenness. I joined in on that. I ordered a Bloody Mary. Why? Because I could see into the future and I knew it would end up being ironic. All the college males non-smiled at me. They didn't smile, as they are not allowed in this sort of setting unless it is at a girl, so they non-smiled at me, appreciating my preemptive ironic joke that I wasn't aware I was making yet. Bloody Mary, vampires, haha.
There weren't very many females at the Adult Arcade. Why would there be? They could just go to a real bar and avoid all this noise and flashing lights and electronic joystick foreplay. I don't understand why anyone would enjoy a bar like this. Give me the dank anyday. Give me a dark hole in the ground where everyone looks as if they wished they were going to die. Or even, give me the red-neck hick bar with the tabletop dancing drink serving whores and the bad country music and the mechanical bull. That at least has something genuine to it. But an arcade. Arcades are for kids. If they're letting adults go to an arcade now, they should let kids go to bars and get plastered. It'd be funny. They'd bring their toys, have some beers, then stage complicated drunken plays with their He-Men. Do kids still play with He-Man? Fuck if I know. They probably do, only for ironic purposes. Even 5 year olds these days are ironic. That's a good reason to get them drunk. Loosen them up. No one is more sincere than a drunk. They love you like a good Christian. They come up to you, wandering through the downtown streets, asking you where the womens are. They apologize, while they're vomiting, for being so damn cough cough splatter splatter. And there's nothing but sincerity in their voice. Sincerity and bile. Sincerity and bile go hand in hand. Cough cough splatter splatter.
So why was I at this arcade that I hated so much? Because I needed to be. God had led me there so that I could meet this vampire and I could then write a brilliant story about it. Alas, I am already a failure. This story is not brilliant, and I will either tear it up into little shreds or send it off to be published when I am finished. Both are approximately the same thing in my eyes. I'm only saying all of this as some sort of self-defense mechanism. If I criticize my own work, call it garbage and all of that, nothing negative you can say about it matters. I beat you to the punch. Haha. I spit in your ugly face. You are a slow moving failure. I am a quick-witted failure. It makes all the difference in this work-a-day world.
But the real reason I was there was to meet Bambi, the anthropologist with the diamond eyes. She wanted to meet me at this place because it was conveniently placed, right in the middle of where I was and where she was. Usually where I was and where she was happened to be the same place, but we had recently had a little tiff over the existential meaning of sex and how I thought her profession was pointless and her voice was a tad annoying. I mean come on, anthropology. What the fuck do they do? Dig up useless shit and show it to everyone and grin. It's another form of intellectual masturbation. Bambi is a purveyor of intellectual pornography. Her name is Bambi, after all.
And there I was, sitting at the bar while video game noises buzzed and whirred around me, and for a second I thought I was in that stupid Tron movie, as everything in the bar had this 80s version of future look to it, with neon glowsticks and blacklights and little red light bulbs and shit like that everywhere. And for some reason, there were these televisions that showed nothing but static. As if that was some sort of interior design innovative. Televisions that showed static. I am hypnotized. I am on the edge of my drunken seat.
Drank I did, waiting for Bambi, who was more than late and was probably getting back at me for something. Maybe she was mad because I insulted her profession and pointed out that she had the name of a prostitute. It's not like I actually called her a prostitute. She's not a waitress or anything. Waitresses are prostitutes. All of them. Even big fat ones at greasy mom and pop diners. They come up to you all fake smiles and be fake nice when all they want is some money. They're whoring themselves out. Except for the pissed off waitresses that spit in the food and look at you with hate. I love them. I want to marry one of them.
Finally, after all the tangents my mind could travel on were used up, the vampire came over and sat next to me. Having downed a few drinks, I was unusually friendly, so I said, "Hey there, pilgrim, why so glum?"
And thus begins the vampire soliloquy. "Oh, I don't know. You ever have one of those days where everything around you is utterly depressing? Whatcha drinking? Bloody Mary huh. That's funny."
"I've had a few. They're good. I'm happy, how 'bout you? Be merry and happy, you know. Lalala."
"I don't know if it's possible anymore. Nothing I do seems to matter. I walk through life not living. And you think I'm joking about this, or speaking, I don't know, metaphorically or something. But I'm not, no sir. I am being as literal as can be. I am the literal embodiment of post-modern angst. Or maybe I'm not. What do I know? All I know is that I'm walking through this thing other people call life, but I cannot call it that. I am not alive. I am not living a life. I am living a non-life," I was reminded of the collegiate non-smile, "I am living a death, that is what I am living. And you are sitting there, thinking to yourself, 'Oh this poor schmoo. He thinks his life is worthless. He is confronting the meaninglessness of existence, and all of that wonderfully dreary rubbish. He needs to get laid'. That is what you are thinking." Actually, I was thinking of napkins. There was a napkin in my right hand, and I was looking at it, thinking, "Man, the napkin sure is a wonderful invention. I wonder who thought of it? I bet it was Edison." But I didn't tell the poor soulless soul any of that. I didn't want to disturb his somber rant.
He continued. "But it's not as simple as you may think. I cannot even have the luxury of confronting the meaninglessness of my life. I have no life to live. My life is over. It has been over for years, but this is something that just struck me. You see, I was at home, watching some movies. There was a marathon on some cable television channel, I don't know which one, I get them all confused. Anyway, there was a marathon on, a monster movie marathon, and they were having a series of vampire movies on, all in a row. There was Nosferatu and Dracula and more recent movies, one that Francis Ford Coppola made, and I'm thinking, 'Francis Ford Coppola made a vampire movie! Man, he really did lose it after Apocalypse Now.' But I watch all of these, and I can't help but begin to think, I can't help but to begin to notice certain things. And you know what, there are essentially two ways people look at vampires. They fear them, obviously this is one way. They are monsters, horrible blood sucking fiends that go after virgins or women with big tits are just anyone they feel like. And they're practically unstoppable, you have to get all these fancy weapons, or some vampire specialist, and they go and hunt the evil bat-monster hell-demon thing and kill it. And then the movie's over. And this is a happy ending. But then there are the movies that romanticize it. The vampire is the hero. He's tortured and gothic and sexy. Like that one movie with what's his face, the pretty-boy and the other pretty-boy and Kirsten Dunst before she was old enough for us to be allowed to think she's hot. They live horrible, tragic lives, and we should sympathize with them, but most of all, we should have wet dreams about them. And the audience for these films is clear. The audience is not vampires. The audience is normal people who are either fearing them or romanticizing them as some exotic, dangerous, tortured thing. 'Oh to have my blood be sucked by him, wooeee!' some girl says as she watches the movie. But where is the reality. Where do I fit into all of these. No one really fears me. Why should they? I'm seemingly just a normal guy. Why should anyone romanticize me? I am humdrum looking, nothing particularly dangerous about me, it would appear.
"But what am I? What does the media expect me to be? Am I expected to seduce women on a daily basis and suck their precious sweet blood? If I did that, I'd get fat. There is such a thing as too much blood, you know. Am I supposed to walk around at night with sexy long hair and long black coats and talk as if I was from the 1800s? Why must I fit this image? Why are there these pressures to act the way people expect us to act? And I thought about all of this, about the neo-gothic style I was supposed to embody, about the sexy yet frightening attitude I was supposed to have, and I thought that these ideas had nothing to do with me. These are human projections and I am not human. I am not alive. What I think and feel doesn't matter, because I am nothing but a walking mass of death. Does this make sense? Am I making sense to you?"
"Huh? I don't know. This napkin's pretty impressive though. But I'm a little confused. So you're not human?"
"No, friend, I am a vampire. And what does this mean? It means I am somewhere between dead and alive, but really, I am more dead than alive. I cannot participate in a human existence. I cannot form bonds with other humans. I can't even go out into the daylight. And all I want to do now is die. But how can I die? How can I really die? Would it be any different than this? Would it be any different from walking through other people's lives and not being able to participate? Because this is not my life. I am an imposter. I am here by some fluke, walking around in a human world but functioning on an unhuman level. What is wrong with me? I cannot pretend to be anything but what I am. I do not need to eat, or drink anything besides blood. And I don't, contrary to popular belief, need much of that. And there's no reason it has to be human. Any blood will do. I've never even killed a human. I've only tasted human blood once, and it was on accident, and it wasn't even that tasty. Really, I can't taste anything. I don't get pleasure out of the things humans get pleasure out of. Sex, video games, drinking, rollercoasters, none of those things interest me. And I've been around for such a long time, and it's useless to make any connections with humans, because they'll just die in what seems like a blink of the eye to me. All I want to do is die with them. As if it would matter. Even if I wanted relationships with humans, I don't think I'd be capable. I don't know. The vampire's life is a lonely life."
"Are there no other vampires for you to make friends with and play with?"
"I don't think vampires are capable of friendship. We can use the word, we can pretend, but there is something missing. No, I find other vampires to be cold and distant."
"Are you really a vampire though? I mean, how much have you had to drink?"
"See here," he showed me his teeth, "those are vampire teeth. And look there, at the mirror behind the bar. I don't even show up. What is there to reflect? Nothing. I am nothing. You can see with your very own eyes. I am very literally nothing."
I saw. He wasn't in the mirror. I thought this was pretty cool. "So you want to kill yourself then?"
"I see no other option. But I can't bring myself to do it. The fear is....too much."
And this part I told you about. I made suggestions, he shrugged, and then Bambi walked in. "Well, it was nice talking to you, vampire. I have business to attend to."
"Thank you for listening. I'm not sure anything I said really made any sense. I don't think I am capable of making sense. That's something humans do, not vampires."
I laughed, "No, humans don't make sense either. We're all just kidding ourselves."
"Yes. Kidding ourselves." And so he sat their in his undead loneliness, and I walked over and greeted Bambi and told her we had to get out of this place as quickly as possible. She agreed and asked me who I was talking to. I told her, "A vampire," and she looked at me with one of her looks that suggests she thinks I'm making shit up. She gives me those looks a lot. As if all I did was make things up. If I were to make things up, they'd be much cooler than they actually are. My stories would be much better. The vampire would have been female and she would have seduced me. Then I would have become a vampire. I'd be sexy and gothic and go after young virgins. Wouldn't that be great? Apparently, real vampires weren't like that though. They were dull and complained a lot. He didn't seem all that different from most humans. I couldn't see what his problem was. It must have been reflection-envy. Everything always comes down to reflection-envy.
And with that, I end my story, as Bambi and I rode off into the night to continue our daring adventures.
bryan e. ©2003