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?