This afternoon, my little family went out to lunch together. My oldest daughter had received a gift card to Red Lobster for her birthday, invited me to lunch, and then invited my youngest daughter and her family to join us. We had to move quickly to sandwich lunch in between church and the playoff game between the Cards and ... whoever they're playing today.
We met at the restaurant, spent an appropriate amount of time deciding who got to look out the window at the water and who got to sit beside whom. Once the seating arrangements were decided, we looked over the menu, tossed around a few suggestions about what sounded good, and eventually placed our orders.
After a few minutes, our food arrived and we all dug in with gusto amid chatter about everyday things. It was a typical lunch for our family . . . until my son-in-law looked up at me and said, "I need to ask you a favor."
I blinked a couple of times in surprise, mostly because this guy isn't really a favor-asker. He's more of a favor-doer. He's a manly man, a member of our country's armed forces, and an all-around good guy. About the only times he asks me for anything, it's to arrange a sleepover with the incredibabies so he and mom can have a date night. Between you and me, he's the kind of guy I'd like to see more romance heroes modeled after. He's a solid guy with solid values. Honest. Good to his wife and kids. Just the real deal, if you know what I mean.
Anyway . . . the favor.
"Sure," I said. "What is it?"
"I don't know how you'd accomplish this," he said, "but I'd like you to ask all the romance authors out there to stop writing vampire romances."
Blink. Blink. Of all the things I might have expected to hear coming out of this man's mouth, this didn't appear anywhere on the list. I wondered for a moment if he was joking, but he looked deadly serious. I swallowed a bite of salad and said, "Oh? Why?"
"Because they're ruining the good name of vampires." He put his fork down, a sure sign that things were about to get serious. "I happen to like vampires, but all this romance stuff that's going on is just wrong. Vampires don't fall in love with people. Vampires eat people." By which I assume he meant that vampires drain people's bodies of blood but don't actually eat the . . . you know . . . person.
"Mmm-hmm," I said with a thoughtful nod. I could tell that this was really troubling him, and I wanted to give it my full attention, but I was a bit distracted by the question of just where, when, and how he'd picked up on the vampire romance craze. My daughter doesn't read that subgenre of romance, and I hadn't noticed any vampire romance novels lying around the house, but then I don't poke around everywhere when I'm visiting. They could have been out of sight somewhere. Or maybe he'd read a few during his last deployment, or his recent TDY in Peru.
"We just finished watching Eureka," my daughter explained, clearly noting my confusion. "We talked about watching Firefly, but instead we watched a couple of episodes of Vampire Diaries."
My son-in-law made a rude noise. "It was awful," he said, and then leaned forward a little. "Look, I put up with the whole Twilight thing, but now it's gotten out of hand. At the rate things are going, everybody's going to forget about the real vampire. The only image they'll have in their heads is some guy with spiked hair and mascara--and glitter."
You have to understand the kind of man my son-in-law is to hear the proper inflection in that last word. Real men don't wear glitter. Real men--even those with two princess-loving daughters--can hardly say the word out loud.
The conversation went on for a few more minutes, wandering over topics like Vlad the Impaler, The Vampire Lestat, and guy-liner, and by the time we moved on, I could see the problem through my son-in-law's eyes. And so, because I love this guy dearly, and because he's done more favors for me than I can count, I implore you all to stop with the vampire romance thing. Do it now! Before you ruin the image of real vampires forever.