According to an age-old Jewish teaching, he who is wise is the man who can learn from all men. It was left somewhat unclear whether the men in question include those whose expiration dates had already come and gone. But if we are to consider ourselves as both wise and open-minded, and if the Undead have something to teach us, then we should be prepared to learn. Here are five things that vampires can teach us about neighboring.
1. Find a Place That’s Right For You, Not a Place That You Can Make Right For You
When Count Dracula was looking to move to England, he chose Carfax, not because he hoped one day it would be near a creepy cemetery and an insane asylum, but because it was already near a creepy cemetery and an insane asylum. By the same token, if you want to live in a quaint Mexican neighborhood, then move to a quaint Mexican neighborhood. Don’t move to the quaint Mexican neighborhood, then price out your quaint Mexican neighbors as you replace the assorted quaint Mexican businesses with a Duane Reade, Pottery Barn and a vegan restaurant.
2. Don’t Go Where You’re Not Welcome
Say what you will about vampires, but they don’t go into a house until they are invited. Granted, once you invite one in, you might come to regret it (nobody ever said they were perfect guests), but still, it’s a pretty good principle for neighbors to adhere to.
3. Be Discreet
We are not generally inclined to offer glittery vampires as models of discretion, but in this case, we’ll point to Edward Cullen from Twilight. He stays out of the sun, not because he’ll burn up, but because everyone will see his true, glittery vampire self, and that would be bad. Now think about yourself. You’re wearing a knit wool ski-cap, and it’s August. You’re wearing a three-day growth of beard, not because you don’t care enough to shave, but because you want it to look like you don’t care enough to shave. You’re wearing a t-shirt for a band that you can’t remember if you actually appreciate, or only ironically appreciate. Maybe, like Edward, you really should keep your true self to yourself. Remember, all that glitters is not gold.
4. Don’t be a Nuisance
Nobody likes an annoying vampire, and we’ll admit, that some—like those no-good vampire punks in Lost Boys—can be pretty damn annoying. By contrast, look at Chris Sarandon’s vampire in Fright Night. Sure, he could have gone to town on the Brewsters next door, but instead, he targeted call girls. Of course, we don’t recommend exsanguinating anyone, but the principle is sound—don’t bleed your neighbors.
5. Always Know When It’s Time to Go
Vampires, whatever other flaws that they may have, usually have a pretty good sense of timing. In their case, of course, it’s before the sun comes up. While that may be a little late for most social settings, there’s still a lesson to be learned: Good neighbors have an innate sense of when it’s time to wrap things up. And if that’s not an opening for a graceful exit, then those vampires haven’t taught us anything at all.