In the words of Seattle Weather Blog, "...these past few Aprils have been brutal for spring lovers." But not so for us vampires, the class of humans who feel most at home in the long winters and very short days. But the world keeps on turning. It was up. Now it is down. At this point, the most we vampires can ask of a vacillation that the laws described by Newtonian mechanics set into motion ages ago is that May be just like (if not even better than) the present April, which is "currently running 4.1 degrees BELOW average." If May is also "brrr," we who love the night and dream of nothing more wonderful than being "cold to the touch," only have to endure three months of summer before the door of September opens to the cool waiting room of winter, fall.
Brrr! April is currently running 4.1 degrees BELOW average in Seattle.— Seattle Weather Blog (@KSeattleWeather) April 13, 2023
That’s about the same as last April, which came in 4.2 degrees below normal.
In sum, these past few Aprils have been brutal for spring lovers.
I now want to use this opportunity (cold April, hopefully cold May, and June?) to show the kind of vampire I identify with. It is the Count Dracula played by Al Lewis in The Munsters. The show, which ran in the 1960s, just called him Grandpa, but he's the father of Sesame Street's Count von Count, an icon of American popular culture.
To be perfectly clear, I do not see my goth, cold-loving self in the whole of Grandpa's complicated character, but simply in an unfortunate situation he found himself in an episode of the show I saw as a boy (1979, Washington, DC, a living room in an apartment not far from Dupont Circle).
What happens is this: Grandpa turns into a bat (something he does regularly) and is caged for some reason relating to his werewolf grandson, Eddie. But a series of situations that are only possible in sitcoms lands Grandpa in a NASA-like lab that needs bats for some kind of space experiment. (This, as you can see, is already very funny.) In the show's best scene (and also one of the best scenes in the history of television) a scientist opens the cage, lifts up the bat with both hands, and holds it in front of him. He wants to demonstrate (for a curious guest) its species-specific power of echolocation. (I'm recounting all of this from a memory formed in my childhood.) The bat, he explains, will fly toward the lab's wall, detect it with its "radar," and swerve away from it. The bat is released, flies, flies, flies—and, to the shock/disappointment/bewilderment of the scientist, flies right into the wall and dumbly falls to the ground. I almost died from laughter that day. Few things could be funnier than this comic situation. Tears all in my eyes. Chest muscles in pain. The scientist didn't know this wasn't a bat. This was Grandpa.
Whenever I return to this memory, I mentally examine every part of it. One such part directed my thoughts to a philosophy of mind debate that made a bit of noise back in the 1980s. It concerned qualia, which is: The inner experience or species-specific sensations of a living being. The only qualia we have access to, of course, is the human one: our colors, our smells, our sounds—these, to use a word invented (I think) by William Wordsworth, "interfuse" into a feeling that constitutes the inner world of the kind of ape we are.
But in the 1970s, the American philosopher Thomas Nagel presented a question that would dominate what remained of the qualia debate: "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" I do not want to go into the details of all this but, considering the above-mentioned episode of The Munsters, we can see, one, what was in the mind of the scientist: the inside of this bat is a bat; and, two, what was in the mind of boy-me: the inside of this bat is a human. It's Grandpa. And he flew right into the wall, as a human would do.
Now that's the kind of vampire I am. That's as goth as I can get. That bat in a very special episode of The Munsters.