Tanya: Creature of the Night
People, we’re on vacation this week at this quaint place that doesn’t have wireless internet. This makes it hard to do new blog posts, and also there are these things called “family time” and “relaxation” that keep getting in the way of blogging progress. So today we’re in reruns–I’m bringing back a classic Tanya story for the benefit of people who might have missed her the first time around. This post originally appeared on October 2, 2008. Enjoy. Again.
It is the late fall of 1994, and you are sitting in the outer room of the small apartment that you share with Tanya at Kingscote Gardens. You are just where you wanted to be, living with Tanya, smack dab in the middle of campus, and just a few hundred yards away from the Coffee House, where you will undoubtedly down a pitcher of beer later, just as soon as it doesn’t seem so totally early in the day as to be embarrassing.
There is a stench coming from the general vicinity of the kitchen, the sink of which holds a pile of dirty dishes, including several plates covered in cheese, because cheese is mostly what Tanya eats–cheese, and sometimes pasta or the occasional piece of cheesecake. You wouldn’t know it by looking at her–she looks like a young Catherine Zeta-Jones, though you don’t know who that is yet, because it is only 1994 and The Mask of Zorro is still several years away. But Tanya’s home is in France, and though she is not French, she has mastered the French woman’s knack for eating whatever she wants without gaining weight, and, more to the point, she is anosmic, so the stench might as well not exist to her.
But what is your excuse? They are not your dishes, no, but this is your airspace, right? Was it primarily your trash that you finally gave in and emptied, dragging it down the back stairway, carefully breathing through your mouth so as to not pass out, and shuffling carefully out of the way of some other residents making their way up the stairs–overhearing, but determinedly ignoring them saying, “Uggh, it’s like something died in here.” What was it that made you give in with the trash, that the dishes have yet to accomplish?
You are halfway through Jane Eyre for your senior seminar, but a rumbling in the next room prompts you to take out one of the neon green earplugs you crammed into your ear to drown out Tanya’s three separate alarm clocks going off. The last time you saw Tanya was two days ago, but you knew she was there, because you had been checking periodically, listening at the foot of her loft to make sure she was still breathing, marveling at the fact that she could sleep through that kind of noise, and even more wondrous, at the fact that there was still any cocaine left. But here she was again, in her pajamas, her hair still strikingly perfect after two days in bed sleeping off a three or four day coke binge.
The crazy girl was talking about vampires again. She was obsessed with vampires, back when it wasn’t cool to be. There was no Twilight series then, no True Blood on HBO, and I’m not even sure how big Anne Rice was in those days. But Tanya was obsessed, and she had found TV shows on basic cable, way past anyone discerning going to bed, that dealt with the plight of the vampire who wanted to be good, but who fought their unholy urges to drink blood. She really thought this was an interesting topic, this being a vampire, and spoke of it as something that might be an ambitious aspiration, yes, but still something that could be accomplished, not unlike others of our classmates would talk of McKinsey consulting jobs or getting into UCSF Med School.
Somewhere in the vampire monologue, you notice something blackish all over Tanya’s otherwise perfectly white teeth. What is that? Chocolate? You have never known Tanya to eat chocolate, at least not in the obsessive, hiding food beneath the mattress kind of way that it would have to have been–given the fact that she has been holed up in her loft for two days. What is that, you think? At length, you decide to ask, though you are never sure if you should do that in these kinds of situations. What is most polite? Never mind, Tanya is headed to the bathroom.
It’s blood. She has blood on her teeth. And you realize then that this cocaine thing has gotten totally out of control, she sleeps all day and stays up all night, she has blood in her postnasal drip, she is disappearing for days at a time, talking obsessively about bizarre topics, making lists of things that make no logical sense, avoiding class, avoiding friends, unless they come equipped with an 8-ball or a bottle of Night Train. Somebody is going to have to do something. It seems absurd that it would be you, given . . . well, just given. But who else will do it?
She walks out of the bathroom, wiping her mouth, tasting the blood, smiles and says, “Maybe I really am a vampire.