You Can't Be a Vampire

You Can't be a Vampire: My Experiences of Womanhood

By Sarah Bradley


My mom didn’t even look up from her ironing, when she shut down my line of questioning.




“But why not”


“Because I said no,” she said, still not looking up “and because it's not Christian”.

If I was old enough to know anything about the bushido code, I would have argue that ninjas were not Christian, and she was letting my brother’s dress as ninjas that year. Even if I had thought of this salient point, it wouldn’t have mattered: it had been decided. I would not be a vampire for Halloween. Not this Halloween, not next Halloween. Not ever.


So I did what any reasonable five year old would do: I started yelling that it wasn't fair. In a fit of exasperation, my mom

“It's not a costume for girls.” she said.

 So I went as a fairy that year. An unhappy, disgruntled fairy. My mom curled my hair, and i wore a pink dress, with sparkling pink wings, and had a rhinestone covered plastic wand, and I hated it.

If I had the words, I would have spent the whole night muttering “this is some ol’ bullshit, mom” under my breath, but I didn’t. I was tolerated the southern blue haired grandmothers pawing at my face, my hair, my cheeks, each one squealing

‘Aren’t you so cuuuttte’,

‘Isn’t she just precioussss’.


It was my personal Via Dolorosa. I went home, defeated.


It sticks out in my mind, because it was the first time is ever realized that my sex came with strings attached. That were supposed to be pleasing to the eye, like a place setting at a state dinner, or a chair on the sales floor at IKEA. Were supposed to look nice, and being a vampire is unbecoming.  


I don't blame my mom. She’s like Jackie Onassis: classic, pretty, feminine, and maybe she wanted to share that with me. Maybe I was the youngest and she realized she didn't have a lot of time left where she could dress up her babies. Maybe she didn’t want me to be weird, because life tends to be easier for the pretty girl who likes pink.  Also, it must be odd as a parent to have a baby, and think that it's a butterfly. You love it, and support it, until one day it snap the shell of their chrysalis, and it turns out you never had a butterfly. You had a moth. Either way- I feel you mom.

Besides, if my mom's goal was to stop me from being weird, she failed. Miserably. At ten, my favorite movie was Van Helsing. At twelve, I was stealing my brothers nirvana CD’s, and Pete Wentz became everything. At fourteen, my closet was monochromatic, and at 17 I had achieved my final form: I became full-fledged Goth. Keep in mind this was not cute, tumblr Goth. No. This was no ‘sooo kawaii’.


This was space boots, Siouxsie and the Banshees, black lipstick, blue eyeshadow, hair teased high as giraffe pussy, Goth as Fuck. I would step out of my room in the morning, and my mom would smile in a strained kind of way, and squint at hemline.


“That's awfully short”


“Is this Saudi Arabia?”


She would laugh would be the end of it. As much as she hated them, she stopped fighting me on my clothes. Maybe she just gave up.  Maybe she wasn't as worried about my chastity because she realized how totally unfuckable I was in high school. For obvious reasons, I haven’t asked her.


That's when I started to hate the term Lady like, I still do. How can you be something, and not be like it? You wouldn’t tell a plumber he’s not plumber like, or a teacher they’re not teacher like: but women cannot be lady like


I was told, my music wasn't lady like

My prodigious like grasp of profanity wasn't lady like.

My temper, and my volume, and my makeup wasn't lady, and the way I take up space, and like cigars, and wasn’t lady like.


I am a lady, and I’ve never been lady like: and I’m still trying to understand what that means