Category Archives: antihero

In my world, there are people in chains and we can ride them like ponies.

I’ve mentioned this before, if you’ve been paying the least bit of attention (and if you haven’t, HELLO, McFly, you really need to be better at remembering the smallest details of my life, I mean, seriously, there could be a test someday and won’t you feel underprepared?) but I kind of dig vampires. Like, a lot. A LOT, a lot.

No, no. Not sparkly emo vampires. Do I really need to all-cap it? Fine, I know you want me to. VAMPIRES DON’T SPARKLE. I like good, old-fashioned broody, snarky, kickass vampires. Like:

Spike!

And:

Jessica!

And:

Eric!

And:

Damon!

And:

Pam!

And:

Abby!

And:

Dru!

And:

Vampire Willow! I think she might be kinda gay.

So this weekend, I was chatting on Twitter (I know it really looks like that’s all I do all weekend and all week and pretty much all the time? And, well, that’s because it is. Sorry to burst your bubble. No, no, wait, that’s not true. Sometimes I also drive to and from work and also I go to the theater for committee-attending and once and a while I watch television. And also I sleep a little) and one of my secret-shame things came out.

I really, really, REALLY hate garlic.

Like, I detest garlic. Hate it. If I see it in a recipe, I’ll leave it out completely, even if subsequently, the finished product is as bland as a saltine. I don’t like the way it smells when it’s cooking; I don’t like the way it tastes in something; and it gives me a stomachache if it’s in something I’m eating.

(SIDE NOTE SIDE NOTE: There is one, one, ONE exception to this. Years and years ago, when I was living across the country, there was a pizza place that served the ***BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD***. No, they didn’t advertise it like that. I did that. I put the stars and the all-caps. Because it deserved it. It was called The Vampire Killer Pizza. And it was, very simply, a white pizza, with four cheeses and fresh garlic in a buttery, slightly oily sauce on the best, lightest, chewiest crust I’ve ever eaten. Your breath was bad for a week after you ate it; you sweated garlic for days. I don’t know why, since I hate garlic, I loved this more than anything in the world and I still, ten years later, get cravings for it. But it was, and remains, the ***BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD***.)

So after I admitted that I hate garlic (also, I hate onions – won’t eat them, hate the way they smell, taste, etc. – I’m not much of a fan of anything with a papery skin, apparently, I don’t know, although I do like shallots an awful lot?) this confused and upset Twitter to the point of I’m pretty sure they wanted to kick me off but they like me a lot so they didn’t. Thanks, Twitter.

But @heinakroon became convinced I was a vampire, so he made me take a test.

Last week, he wrote a fascinating piece on his blog (listen, they’re all fascinating, I’m going to beat you over the head with the intelligence of his blog until you all go over and follow him around until he has to start shooing you all off with a cricket bat, because he is one smart cookie, probably a delicious cookie, too, one with no raisins, DAMMIT RAISINS!) about immortality and how if women live until they’re 93 they’ll probably become lesbian vampires, which is exciting, because can you even imagine how much less televised sports there will be once the world is populated by all of us 93-year-old lesbian vampires? We are not going to stand for those shenanigans, let me tell you. We’re going to want quality television programming, not sports. I’m already really excited about this.

So because I don’t like garlic, poor @heinakroon was worried that maybe I was already a vampire. I asked him if there was a test I needed to take to see if I was a lesbian, too, and he said there was a very simple test I could take, but it might be embarrassing, and I realized that I took that test in college and failed miserably so I’m good on the lesbian front. I mean, at least for the next 56 years.

(BTW, I researched why vampires don’t like garlic and the interwebs seem to think it’s just because vampires have a heightened sense of smell and garlic reeks. I’m good with that. It does. Reek. It’s horrendous. I hate it so much. Except on the heavenly pizza of the gods that I have no explanation for, of course.)

So if someone sends me a test, I take it. I LOVE TESTS SO SO MUCH. Even stupid tests, like “What Pokemon Character Are You?” and I don’t even play Pokemon and wouldn’t know a single character if you threw one at me. I was very excited about this test. Apparently, you had to get at least half or also maybe 85% of the answers as positive to be a vampire. Well! I was pretty sure I could get at least a 50% or 85% (although your math seems a little wobbly there, sir, as those two numbers are a bit far apart, no?) I do very well on standardized testing. I ROCKED the SATs. AND the GREs. I brought the recommended number of sharp #2 pencils and EVERYTHING. I was PREPARED. It was AWESOME.

Anyway, so here is the test. The person who runs this website has this big old “don’t copy this without permission” disclaimer on his test, and what if he’s going to stake me or something? That’s worrisome. So I probably should paraphrase the questions and my results, right? I don’t want to get staked. So if you go to this guy’s website and you’re all “Amy’s questions aren’t the SAME WTTFFFFFFF” it’s because I rephrased them because I’m scared of this dude a little. I don’t know. What if he eats my face or something?

Now, first, you KNOW this site is legit, because it is BLACK with BLUE WRITING and is VERY SPOOKY. Also, at the top, there are links for things like “Approaching a real vampire” and “Telling your friends and family” and “A sobering moment from my past.” I would click on these things, but there’s a test to be taken. I’m a little curious about the sobering moment from this dude’s past, though. FINE I’M CLICKING. Um…it’s very confusing? I think the sobering moment was that he used to be dating a slayer and he’s a vampire and she didn’t kill him. So maybe Angel or Spike wrote this website, I’m not quite sure. Also, there’s a photo of a knife called “Hacky” on that page. And the handle of the knife looks like Rainbow Brite made it, or a stoner. Eh, it’s no Mr, Pointy, Vampire McGurk. (Oh, also, the vampire put his real name on the website. That seems like a bad idea. Won’t people either want to slay him or get bitten by him? He needs witness protection for vampires. Or at least an alias. I suggest Shemp. No one would presume someone named Shemp was a bloodsucker. I’m really good at this. FBI! You can totally call me up and have me make up names for your witness protection people, if you want! I am the most helpful!)

OK, let’s see if I’m a vampire. There are 38 questions. I have to get at least 19, or maybe 32, or more right to want to suck your blood. This is totally going to happen.

Are you unusually pale?

YES. I totally am! I can’t even go out in the sun, I burn like a mofo. Seriously, I have to buy that insanely high SPF baby sunscreen that’s like putting a brick wall around you when you go out in the summer if I even want to be out for like twenty minutes. That’s totally vampirific, right?

Points: 1 

Have you ever survived a deadly accident with only a few scratches and cuts?

No. But I’ve never been in a really deadly accident. So maybe I WOULD survive it with only a few scratches and cuts. I’m giving myself a half point for this one.

Points: .5

Do you naturally use magic or energy?

Um. I pretend to? I like to say “I AM SENDING YOU ALL THE MAGIC ENERGY.” But it very seldom works. I don’t think I’m very good at it. Or maybe I’m doing it wrong. Do you think I need an amulet of some sort? Most magical beings seem to have some sort of amulet.

Points: (sadly) 0

Were you the strongest, smartest, or quickest kid growing up, and when you were sixteen, were you all three?

Well! This is flattering. I WAS the smartest, actually. I know, I know, STOP BEING BRAGGY. No, I was. I was the smartest. That’s obviously why I was so popular, of course. And when I gave my valedictory speech, part of it was “five years from now, NONE OF YOU WILL EVEN BE FRIENDS ANYMORE.” That still makes me laugh. I was such a little shit.

I have never been strong or quick. I’m like a weak sloth.

Points: .33

Did your dad disappear from your life when you were a child?

He went hunting sometimes. But he always came back. What does this have to do with vampirism? This is more to do with absentee fatherism, I’d think. Or maybe whores.

Points: (thankfully, because I love my dad) 0

Do you hear “you look young for your age” or “I’d never have guessed you were that old” often?

HOLY HELL DO I EVER. One time, I told this guy how old I was? And he was all, “No you’re not.” And I said, “Why would I lie about how old I am?” And he said, “I don’t know, WHY WOULD YOU.” And I said, “I WOULDN’T, that is HOW OLD I AM.” And he said, “I thought you were probably 25.” Also, I constantly get carded at the liquor store, and I haven’t been 21 since the mid-90s.

Points: 1 (although I’m pretty sure I should get double points for this as I hear BOTH of the phrases in the question)

Do you have more energy at night than during the day?

YES SIRREE BOB. I am a bouncy ball of bounce at night. But during the day, I might as well be dead. That could be because I’m at work during the day, though. On my days off, I have the nighttime energy all day long. Hmm. This IS curious. HOW COULD THESE THINGS BE RELATED I WONDER.

Points: 1 

Do you heal more quickly than most?

Than most what? No. I take a year to heal. But that’s because I hurt myself a lot, and badly. I’m a big old clumsy oaf. Also, if I cut my legs more often when I shave, someone’s going to lock me up for a suicide attempt, I’m pretty sure. If that happens, please, minions, spring me from Four Winds. I promise I wasn’t trying to off myself. I just can’t see in the shower and I often cut an artery with my stupid slippery razor.

Points: 0

Do you have a high tolerance to alcohol and poison?

Let me knock back this hemlock my coworker considerately left for me this morning and I’ll let you know.

Points: 0

Do you switch between social and antisocial often?

Well, I guess. Depending on my mood. For example, this weekend? I went to a play? And I was the most social with the strangers in my row. I was like the life of the party with those people. They LOVED me. I was like their pre-show entertainment, seriously. I was like the person they get to warm up the crowd before the main event. I rocked the front row so hard. But mostly I like to not attend events, or sit in the corner glowering.

Points: 1

Do you rarely get sick, and if you do, do you recover quickly?

I DO rarely get sick. I don’t have the time for it, and also I’m a total germaphobe weirdo like Howard Hughes. But when I do get sick, it lasts for like a year and I’m a complete baby about it and I whine and cry and cough and mutter and I hate it so much I just want to be dead.

Points: .5

Are your six senses heightened?

One time, I was walking to my car, and the whole parking lot smelled like celery? But I think I was having a seizure or something, because there wasn’t any celery around.

Points: 0

Do you have excellent night vision?

Sure, if I’m wearing night-vision goggles, it’s great.

Points: 0

Do sudden loud noises or movements not scare you because you anticipated that they were coming?

I HATE BEING STARTLED. I’ll punch you in your NECK if you jump out at me, you “SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” bastard.

Points: 0

Do you catch falling objects quickly?

HA HA HA HA. See above: “clumsiest woman in the world.” Falling objects have a way of landing on me in such a way that they cut, maim, and mangle me in the most peculiar and unlikely of ways. I dropped a candleholder on my foot a few weeks ago and managed to cut my toe so deeply I bled all over my carpet and kitchen floor and kind of it was SPURTING. Like in Hostel.

Points: 0

Do you get a high from human blood, and do you pick up abilities from the people whose blood you drink?

Well, NOW we’re getting to the nitty gritty, aren’t we, Shemp?

No. Although, I could totally use some new abilities. I’d like to be able to draw. Anyone want to let me bite them? Any artists?

Points: 0

Are you sensitive to light, or the heat from light? 

Well, I get heatstroke when I’m in the sun, because I’m so pale I’m transparent. So yeah. Pretty much.

Points: 1

When you cut yourself, do you bleed little, or not at all? 

I’m the bloodiest person ALIVE. I’m like a non-clotter, dude. I bleed for like a YEAR.

Points: 0

Are your nails clear, glassy, and very strong?

Hee! No. That’d be funny, though. My nails are stained from constant use of nailpolish, and are currently sparkly green. You know, for Christmas.

Points: 0

Is your bedroom cold and dark?

HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS SHEMP. Yes, it is. Because the heater in there works for shit, and also it’s in the back of the building so it gets no sun. Am I totally a vampire now?

Points: 1

Then the website told me to listen to a sound and if I could hear it, I was a vampire. I couldn’t even get the link to load, and it froze my whole computer. THAT IS VERY SUSPECT. But I’m not going to give myself a point, because I don’t like cheaters.

Points: 0

Can you digest more iron than the normal person?

HOW THE HELL WOULD I EVEN KNOW THIS.

Points: 0

When a person bumps into you do you get angry because you would never bump into someone because you always know how much room there is between you and others?

YES YES. I totally hate when people touch me. Last night? On the news? I watched this clip of a man who was groping people at the Walmart? And he groped this woman in the shampoo aisle? Only he did it really tentatively, and she didn’t even notice and then went onto the body wash aisle? And then he followed her and then totally grabbed her ass and she jumped like ten feet in the air and ran away and then he walked off like he owned the Walmart and he was wearing sweatpants.

I would not have liked that at all.

Points: 1

Do you feel an urge to travel?

Yes. I want to go to like 14 places at the moment. But I have zero dollars. If I pass this test, will I get some vampire money or something? My fingers are totally crossed.

Points: 1

When something smells strong, can you literally taste it?

YES. That’s why I hate garlic. And onions. And Fritos. Seriously, if someone is eating Fritos near me, I have to leave the room. They make me gag.

Points: 1

Can you hear whispers from across a room?

Is the room quiet? Is it a stage whisper or a regular whisper? Am I paying attention or distracted by something else? NOT ENOUGH INFORMATION SHEMP.

Points: .5

Is there a dark colored ring around the iris of your eye?

Yep. That’s pretty mysterious, right?

Points: 1

Is there a noticeably different color surrounding the pupil?

Again, YES. Shemp! You’re SCARING me! (Also, I have the prettiest eyes ever. Just letting you all know. They are ALL the colors.)

Points: 1

If someone said “come outside, it’s a nice sunny day, everyone’s there” to you, would you be happy or not?

I’d be all, “what the hell, I hate the sun and people.”

Points: 1 (I’m going to assume this is what a vampire would say, anyway, it’s pretty vague)

Are most of your friends considered weird?

HA HA HA HA YES AND I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. Also, judgey much, Shemp? Why don’t you go play with your psychedelic hippie knife named Hacky.

Points: 1

Do you consider yourself a predator?

Of WHAT? This is perplexing. Things I hunt down: information on the internet; deals at the grocery store.

Points: 0

Do sunlight and bright light give you a headache?

You’re totally repeating yourself, Shemp. Sort of. I’m migraine-prone.

Points: .5

Do electrical appliances malfunction around you?

Not especially, no. Did you ever see the Twilight Zone where the guy’s electrical appliances were trying to kill him? Ha.

Points: 0

Are your dreams vivid and prophetic?

My dreams are idiotic and ridiculous. Last night I dreamed the guy I was in love with in high school let me borrow his hunting jacket to wear as a bathing suit coverup and I found Pez in the pocket and I went around telling everyone, “Look, this is how I know he loves me, because PEZ!”

Although, I wouldn’t mind if that was prophetic. He WAS dreamy. And, Pez.

Points: 0

Do people think you are empathetic?

I don’t know about empathetic. I’m practical. I give good advice. I worry about the people I care about too much. I don’t care about very many people, which is probably good, because I worry about them SO MUCH that if I had more people I care about, I think my head would explode. So I don’t know. Maybe?

Points: .5

Do people trust you completely or not at all?

This is the best question ever. I get a point, because I think EVERYONE gets a point for this one. “Do you like cheese, or not like cheese? THEN YOU GET A POINT.” “Do you sometimes wear shoes, or not wear shoes? POINT FOR YOU.”

Points: 1

Can you make things happen with the force of your will?

ZOMG I WISH I COULD. How awesome would THAT be? I have a LIST of things I would like to will into being. Vampires can do this? I’m going to track down Shemp because I want this power, like, NOW, please.

Points: 0

Does your mood affect people and animals around you?

Yes, because I have a HUGE PERSONALITY. I know, you’re shocked. Try not to be, my little rutabagas.

Points: 1

THIS SHIT IS FINALLY OVER THIS IS THE LONGEST BLOG ENTRY EVER.

Tally! Tally! Time to tally! I’m so Jeff Probst right now yo!

The total is: drumroll…..drumroll…..

16.83

So I needed at LEAST a 19 or maybe a 32.

THIS IS VERY DISAPPOINTING SHEMP.

Alright, @heinakroon. I am not a vampire. Or a lesbian. Or a lesbian vampire. Or 93 years old.

I just really, really, REALLY hate garlic.

Dammit. I was so hoping to make things bend to my will while waving around my glass-like strong fingernails and also being snarky like Spike. This is really the saddest, you guys.

Oh, well. Maybe I’m a werewolf! Or a FAIRY! I’m going to look for tests RIGHT NOW. Back on that pony! I know I’m a mythical creature of some sort. I JUST HAVE TO BELIEVE.


The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem

I have a problem.

What do these names have in common?

John Bender
Chuck Bass
William Pratt
Damon Salvatore
Heathcliff Earnshaw
Gabriel Gray
Logan Echolls

If you say they’re all fictional characters, well, yes, you are correct.

If you’re reading the list and you’re seeing a correlation between some of them, but you don’t know who William Pratt or Gabriel Gray are, would it make any difference to you if I added their more commonly-used nicknames to the list? Here. Here is an amended list. Just for you.

John Bender
Chuck Bass
William “The Bloody” Pratt, a.k.a. Spike
Damon Salvatore
Heathcliff Earnshaw
Gabriel “Sylar” Gray
Logan Echolls

Better?

(And yes, I realize that Heathcliff, not actually being an Earnshaw, doesn’t ever get the surname, but the list looked weird if he only had one name, like Cher or Madonna. And also, I’ve always assumed he was Mr. Earnshaw’s bastard son, and therefore very much an Earnshaw, and also therefore, making his relationship with Cathy ever-so-much-more disturbing, if that’s even possible.)

Yes, they’re all fictional characters. 

They’re also all complete dicks.

And I’m completely in love with all of them.

I have an addiction to the anti-hero.

Not just the anti-hero, either. The dickiest dick of an anti-hero, that’s the one I want. The one that would sell out his own mother and kill your sister and sleep with your best friend and eat all of your Teddy Grahams AND NEVER EVER BUY YOU ANY TO REPLACE THEM OR APOLOGIZE FOR IT.

There are heroes, there are anti-heroes, and there are these kind of guys. The Byronic anti-heroes. The broken ones. The ones that have been so scarred by something in their past that they’re never going to be any good or at all trustworthy but maybe, just maybe, you can be the one who fixes them. You can be the one person that uncovers the treasure, that unearths the jewel hiding behind the grime and filth, that reaches in and fixes what’s been broken and they’ll be loyal to you, and only you, for all time.

In fiction, it’s easy to see what’s so compelling about characters like these. They’re a hell of a lot more readable/watchable than the boring heroes or even the less ambiguous anti-heroes. They’re evil. They do evil things. But if they were just evil, they’d start being boring. We keep coming back because they have hidden motives, they have a rich interior monologue, and every once and a while, a bit of humanity will peep out of their dark places.

Bender will torment a bullied student, but then tell the story of how his father burned him with cigarettes.

Logan will force homeless men to fight for money, but then be forced to walk to the closet to pick out the belt that his father will beat him with that night.

Spike will stalk and kill people in the bloodiest fashion imaginable, but then remember people mocking him for having a crush on a popular girl when he was young.

And you can’t hate them. You can’t, because you see that humanity, and it softens you on them. You just know you could fix them, if given the chance. You see how loyal they are to the few people they let in behind their very high walls and you love them, despite their wrongdoings, no matter how bad they are.

The problem is, this doesn’t hold true in real life.

Let’s take Heathcliff. I assume most of you have read Wuthering Heights, either on your own or as an assignment for a class, or watched one of the million movie adaptations. In case you haven’t, or need a refresher, here you go:

Heathcliff is adopted by the Earnshaw family, and is supposedly a gypsy child (but it’s slightly hinted at that he might be the bastard child of Mr. Earnshaw, which makes for a much better backstory, in my opinion.) He falls in love with his foster sister, Catherine. Catherine and he have a tumultuous relationship, which is characterized by mental and physical abuse on both sides. When his foster father dies, his foster brother forces him to become a servant to the family. Catherine decides she wants to become a lady, and begins hanging out with a higher-class family and spurns Heathcliff, who is now her servant. She marries into the higher-class family despite loving Heathcliff, because he is too low-class for her. He is obsessive and furious and there is a lot of hitting and throwing and such. He runs off, makes a lot of money in shady ways, comes home rich, and seduces Catherine’s sister-in-law and marries her as revenge on both Catherine (who he knows still loves him) and her husband. Catherine is furious and dies not long afterwards in childbirth. Heathcliff abuses his wife in every way possible, for the simple reason that she isn’t Catherine, yet she still loves him completely. He then, over the years, continues to get revenge on everyone who has slighted him, while obsessing over his dead lover, by playing their children against one another. Eventually he dies because he is haunted by Catherine’s ghost. 

This isn’t a very good recap, because it leaves out the simple fact that, no matter what Heathcliff does, and no matter how awful he is, and no matter how he treats the people around him (especially the women) like pawns on a chessboard, HE COMES ACROSS AS COMPLETELY JUSTIFIED. I don’t know how this works but it totally does. I have had a crush on Heathcliff and his obsessive love for his possible half-sister since I was twelve. No, it’s not a crush. I am head-over-heels for Heathcliff. I read it, and the intelligent part of me KNOWS what a dick he is, but the stupidly romantic part of me is very squishy and foolish and thinks “I WANT SOMEONE TO LOVE ME LIKE THAT.”

Here’s the problem.

I had a Heathcliff, once. I was young, and it seemed very romantic. Phone calls at all hours. Declarations of love after knowing one another for a few days. Threats of bodily harm if we could not be together forever. But come to find out, there’s nothing romantic about dating a Heathcliff. Heathcliff, whose passion and fury seem very good on paper, in real life, is scary. Really, really scary. Restraining-order scary.

You do not, under any circumstances, want a real-life Heathcliff, or Damon Salvatore, or John Bender. They are broken. YOU CAN’T FIX THEM. They have to fix themselves, or get professional help for the fixing. Maybe, once they’re fixed, they’ll be up for public consumption again, but until that day, they are off the market. Don’t even try to fix them. It’s a losing proposition. You’ll just frustrate yourself and you also run the risk of getting seriously hurt, in one way or the other, in the process.

I walk the fine line of loving my fictional anti-heroes and keeping away from anyone who shows signs of being this person in real life. There’s nothing inherently bad, I suppose, in loving the fictional anti-hero. Like I said, they’re a lot more watchable/readable. They’re richer, fuller characters. I am bored to tears by the traditional hero who swoops in with motives pure as the driven snow to save the day. The reluctant slacker anti-hero, drawn into service without any desire to be there, is a little more interesting but not much. I want the twisty anti-hero. I want a backstory full of shadow and substance and a character molded by forces that did not have his best interests at heart. I want a nature versus nurture struggle. I want a twirly mustache and a big black hat hiding a heart of gold.

The problem is when you let that bleed over into real life.

In real life, even when I think that’s what I want, I now know it’s not. I know what Heathcliff really looks like, when he steps off the page. A petulant child. A broken pouting bully. Someone who wants to take everyone around him down with him. I don’t want that or deserve that. I’ve had that. I did my time with that. No more of that.

Things are always prettier in fiction. I’ll keep my anti-heroes there, where they can wreak havoc safely for my entertainment purposes. I’ll stick with my fictional dark and twisty guys. I can close the book or turn off the television when I’m done with them. A twelve-step program (“Learn to love the bland! Learn to embrace the safe!”) probably wouldn’t do me much good. I’m not ready to give them up quite yet.

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