Vampires romp on the playground

by Alicia Rudnicki, Library Mix

It was a crisp, sunny autumn day on the playground of the elementary school where I teach. A group of third graders were enjoying a lively game of … vampire tag.

Exercising the imagination
Little brown girls (the school is mostly Hispanic) shrieked as they zipped around the playground from slides to climbers and back again.

They were trying to stay a step ahead of the pesky, pale white boys who hissed dramatically and pulled back their lips, pretending to bare fangs while stretching out their arms and curling fingers into claws.

I pondered whether to let this fright fest continue. I reasoned that they were exercising their imaginations as well as their bodies.

But just to be safe, I checked with the girls to make sure that no real biting was going on. They explained the rule that if a vampire grabbed your wrist, that was a “bite.”

Acting batty on the jungle gym
Then I chatted with the vampire boys as they hung upside down from the jungle gym with their arms across their chests like folded batwings. Unlike Count Dracula, they seemed cheerful, exhilarated, and happy to be out in the sunshine.

Clearly, the H1N1 flu isn’t the only bug looming. As vampire fans await the opening of New Moon, the second movie in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga, a popular culture pandemic of fang fantasy continues to spread.

The first year that I began working in education, all the hot playground chase games had something to do with dinosaurs due to the movie Jurassic Park.

When I was a kid, the central characters in such games were usually cowboys and Indians, just like we saw on T.V. The times, they keep on changing.

Yes, 2009 was the year of the zombie in fiction and film and on the op-ed page. But the playground is the real test of our nation’s pulse. For now, the vampire is king, and Stephenie Meyer is the king-maker.

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