A note from the editor

Penning this piece by night rather than a bright Kaua‘i morning would have been better suited for the subject.

I recently subjected myself to the intense vampire craze of late. We binge-watched a season’s worth of “True Blood,” rolled through a disturbing Swedish film called “Let the Right One In,” and yes, even absorbed a couple of the horribly acted although oddly addicting “Twilight” flicks.

I’m not sure why each seemed like such a guilty pleasure; below the surface were some serious social criticisms.

“True Blood,” for instance, really provides a reflection of ourselves and how we reconcile our differences. The vampires-versus-humans dynamic portrayed in the HBO series parallels the gay versus straight, left versus right, open-minded versus closed-minded dichotomies in today’s ruptured and raptured American society.

But to avoid turning this column into a thesis on the matter, let me switch gears. The guilty-pleasure vibe I get watching this new era of vampire-related shows may have as much to do with bringing out the inner child in me as anything.

I can probably still find the cape and cumbersome cummerbund I wore for a few Halloweens in elementary school as part of my Dracula costume. I completed the look with some black hairspray, a painted-on widow’s peak, some fake fangs and fake blood.

I remember watching Bram Stoker’s story of that Transylvanian fanger as often as the local library would let me borrow it.

Being a savvy 10-year-old who had graduated from R.L. Stine to Stephen King in the book arena, I was looking to similarly move forward from PG films to R-rated nightmare-inducers.

After being stonewalled at the neighborhood movie rental store because I wasn’t 17 and lacked parental permission, I realized a loophole at the library that let me check out any flick I wanted. So “Dracula” it was, in all its blood and gore — and much to my pre-pubescent delight, some toothy vampiresses.

One notable difference I’ve observed between the vampire flicks of old compared to the ones coming out now is how these non-living individuals react when they come out during the day. “True Blood” has its leading man burnt to a crisp when he tries to save the heroine one afternoon. “Twilight” vampires, by contrast, shimmer under the sun’s light with diamonds in their skin.

It was the latter concept that embarrassingly ran through my mind on a recent morning free-diving off the South Shore. I was about 20 feet under the surface when a school of silver mackerel —  glistening in the sun’s rays carving slits in the sea — dashed under me. They pivoted 50 yards ahead, then, all as one, darted back in my direction but at the same depth.

It was an incredible experience as they parted just in front of me then quickly reformed behind me. I only wish I hadn’t been thinking at the time that their scales looked like the jewels in a vampire’s face when the sunlight hits it just right.


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