Thursday, September 3, 2009

Vampires Who Count

One! One vampire! Two! Two vampires! Three! Three....

I think a lot of us had the pleasure of watching The Count on Sesame Street when we were growing up. Who'd a thought we'd learn to count from a vampire? Could the arithmomaniac purple muppet with the Dracula cape and monocle have anything to do with our obsession with vampires?

It only occurred to me a few years ago that the producers of Sesame Street had selected the perfect counter to teach our children. Could it be because the vampire's moniker was The Count? Or does it make more sense that vampire mythology claims they have a penchant for counting objects?

Eastern and Central European legend tells that vampires are notorious counters, and bodies believed to become vampire after buried were often put in a coffin, along with a healthy helping of seeds. Thus, come nightfall, the vampire would attempt to rise and go in search of blood, but upon spying the seeds would be compelled to count them. This would keep the vampire busy until dawn, and the villagers safe from blood-letting.

Sometimes, if the seeds were particularly tasty, the vampire would eat them. Poppy seeds, because of their narcotic nature not only kept the vampire busy, but lulled him back into his coffin, the quest for blood abandoned for a nap.

Another myth suggests burying the suspected vampire with a fishing net. He would be compelled to count the knots in the net, again, granting worried villagers a safe night's rest.

In the fifth season of X-Files, a hilarious episode, Bad Blood, featured a pizza-delivery-boy-vampire whom Mulder held off by tossing sunflower seeds at him. The vampire was too busy counting to dive for Mulder's neck.

What books or TV shows or movies have you seen an example of the counting vampire myth?


Ceri said...

Wow - You learn something new every day. I don't think I've ever seen a TV show or film that has the counting rule ... Then again, I've never been looking for it (which I will from now on ;-) ).

Jenna Alexander said...

I've never heard that before.

Vampires are supposed to be rich - maybe they get distracted counting their money too.



Michele Hauf said...

In my first vampire story for Nocturne, From The Dark, I had my vampire hero have the 'affliction' of counting. At one point the heroine spills a bottle of aspirin in the bathroom, and well, you know...

The vampires should be rich myth. :-) I think this is predicated by the romance genre. For Kiss My Deadly (vampires and witches) I had intended to make my vampire hero poor. My thinking was, all the other vamps were so rich. And why? Just because you've lived a few centuries doesn't necessarily make you rich. If you handled your money poorly before you were a vampire wouldn't you be the same after? I had wanted to explore a vampire who was at the end of his rope, owed everyone money and really needed help. But. Editorial nixed that particular character attribute. Reason? This is a romance. Readers expect an alpha male who can take care of them. He MUST be rich!

Sigh... So yeah, I defy someone to show me a romance vampire hero who is not rich. Yet in other genres I don't think it matters so much.

RKCharron said...

Hi :)
mwhahaha - that is one, ONE, great blog post! HaHaHa *sound of thunder/flash of lightning*
I love the Count.
Thanks for sharing,
all the best,

Kimberly B. said...

I can't recall whether they do actually counting, but the vampires in Jeri Smith-Ready's Wicked Game and Bad to the Bone are obsessive-compulsive, and inclined to doing things like re-alphabetizing one's cds. Surely that's related to the counting thing.

Kimberly B. said...

P.S. I also think the strapped-for-cash vampire in Michele's book could have been really cool. There are so many vampire stories coming out these days that I think her publisher was a fool to turn down what could have been an original spin on it.
Kiss Me Deadly still rocked, though!

lunaticcafe said...

I knew you had a vamp that counted but I couldn't remember the title. So, thanks for reminding me because it would have eventually driven me bonkers:)

I wish you could have pursued the non-rich vampire because you have a very valid point. Yes, vamps have lots of time to accumulate wealth and yes, they also have time to learn how to manage it but... not all vamps are alpha. Just like weres, you get dominate and submissive, alpha and beta. Even in romance those beta vamps could be interesting and have a good story to tell. It's not like this unwritten vamp was a total wuss. In your scenario the female could have been the one to help him, hence the romance. I'm just sayin'. I read a lot of books and a lot of vamps- finding original ideas is sometimes a challenge.

Sorry if that totally seemed like a rant. It wasn't meant to be.

Ceri said...

Ooh, wow, what a coincedence. I'm currently reading "The Eternal Kiss" and I'm on 'The Coldest Girl in Coldtown' by Holly Black. Check out this quote:

"When she was a little girl, vampires had been costumes for Halloween. They were the bad guys in movies, plastic fangs and polyster capes. They were Muppets on television, endlessly counting."

Perfect timing. :)

Ceri said...

Oh, and that quote's followed by:

"Now she was the one counting. Fifty-seven days. Eighty-eight days. Eighty-eight nights."


Taliesin_ttlg said...

The first film that springs to mind is Dracula 2: ascension (2003) - where they throw grain at an escaping Dracula and he counts it all in a split second. They also used the other OCD rule of the vampire not being able to resist untying knots