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A Vampire of Rome

posted on November 15, 2011 by fractalbob

1835. Rome. The last moments of Carnival.

We are in masks, capes, costumes, surging toward the cathedral through the streets and plazas with our candles, our moccoletti, aflame. Together we make 50,000 points of light, “a fete of jack o’ lanterns”* or the dance of thousands of mingling stars.

There’s a game, a tradition to this march — my candle flame represents my life, and the masked faces around me mean to blow it out while protecting their own from a gust of fermented breath.

The bell in the cathedral tower tolls, all candles are extinguished as if by enchantment, the darkness that follows is profound, disorienting.

“There is no sound save the carriages that were carrying the maskers home; nothing was visible save a few lights that burnt behind the windows. The Carnival was over.”

I was the mysterious man in black who was seen everywhere and observed by a breathless countess who became passionate about this mystery man whose history no one could furnish.

“Then you know him?” almost screamed the countess to one of my companions. “Oh, pray do, for heaven’s sake, tell us all about—is he a vampire, or a resuscitated corpse, or what?

“I fancy I have seen him before, and I even think he recognizes me. And I can well understand,” said the countess, shrugging up her beautiful shoulders, as though an involuntary shudder passed through her veins, “that those who have once seen that man will never be likely to forget him.”

I was he. Playing for the three days of Carnival a vampire of Rome. But if you could have snatched off my mask and cape, there would have been nothing left but air. For I am no one, and I do not live on blood.

In the Martin Luther-free zone of Europe in the Renaissance, the carnival, which occurred right before Lent, allowed every citizen the anonymity provided by the mask. In a mask and costume, you were free to comment on important matters without fear of retribution from the all-powerful Catholic Church. You could gamble, you could drink, you could flirt, and you could otherwise get your freak on in hetero- and gay-friendly venues. Because nobody knew who you were.

Last week, I was enjoying the anonymity of my mask while drunk-tweeting my ass off, hoping to pull people into my fledgling political blog. But by week’s end I deleted my Frustrated in HTX Twitter account after some girls attempted to pull off my mask and light my moccoletto.

Imagine this scenario: I am on my smart phone checking my ‘Frustrated’ Twitter feed while my girlfriend, Sarah, is looking over the menu at Upper East Side restaurant.

Says Sarah, studying the menu, “So what do you think ‘live zucchini’ is?”

“That girl I told you about wants to know if I want I to ‘occupy’ her jeans,” I said.

“Is she flirting with you?”

“I’ll ask,” I said, tweeting.

Sarah and I have been talking about this young woman here in Huntsville, because I find her brilliant and gutsy, and now, so does Sarah.

“Oh, fuck, now she wants me to declare myself,” I said. “Do I want to jump her bones or am I some eunuch with chivalric fantasies?”

“Why are you smiling?” Sarah said.

“Because it’s just so adorable,” I said.

“Tell her you’re an asshole,” Sarah said, “and your balls are in a Ziploc bag in my purse.”

“Too late,” I said after the last tweet. “I have grossed out a third of Huntsville. They think I’m using Twitter to set up a booty call.”

I really am not the kind of person who would inflict myself on the unwilling or disturb with inappropriate behavior even one person alone in the glow from the screen of his smart phone.

I felt especially foolish when I considered the target audience of this blog, men and women who might have a shot at taking back this community for the benefit of the average taxpayer. There is much work to do, and I have no business fiddle-farting around, preening my ego in swashbuckling fantasy.

The agenda for the first post-election City Council meeting is out. This Thursday, a newly elected City Council convenes for the first time, and its first order of business is to meet in executive session to consider the city’s lawsuit against the chamber of commerce.

If you’re a newbie, allow me to catch you up. A Leon County district court jury already found these chamber of commerce fuckers guilty of misappropriation of almost a half a mil of tax dollars. There might be a damned good reason to go into executive session to discuss the appeal of this suit Thursday night when the city and the chamber have had 12 months to shit or get off the pot. WTF?

I am goddamned interested in what happens next, and I hope you are, too. These may be very dark times but for the light you provide. The season of sacrifice for true believers is here.

* Alexandre Dumas, père, The Count of Monte Cristo


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