The side of the neck bitten by vampires

The London murderer, Puerto Rican chupacabras, and Steffi Graf at Wimbledon

We came across a surprising amount of contemporary, first-person vampire narrative.
  • We came across a surprising amount of contemporary, first-person vampire narrative.
  • Image by Rick Geary

Dear Matthew Alice: Does it make a difference to a vampire which side of the neck he/she bites? If the vampire wants iron-rich blood, then the left side is the place to suckle. Or the right side for oxygen-depleted blood. Maybe it doesn’t make a difference. Blood is blood to them. Have you noticed in movies which side vampires bite the most? Come to think of it, I think they bite the left neck. What do you think? — abduque, the Net

I think that once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, communication required a certain effort and people generally kept ruminations like these to themselves. Is e-mail progress? Only occasionally. At the risk of encouraging the rest of you, I figure I’ll give the question what it merits. A dip into the algae-clogged on-line information pool. One relevant tidbit that I suspect is factual comes from a hematologist who declares that there is nothing in human blood that can’t be obtained from other foods. So any time spent pondering left versus right is time wasted. A big bowl of Count Chocula with a T-bone on the side will do just as well.

We came across a surprising amount of contemporary, first-person vampire narrative, including a couple of TV interviews. One of the most interesting and least useful was with a vegetarian vampire. (“Humans are not animals,” she said, clearing up that confusion.) She revealed no lateral preference, unfortunately. She generally nicks the wrists or fingertips of willing “donors” and sips cautiously. Though it’s “delicious,” too much makes her throw up. Well, duh....

We hit a little pay dirt in a story of a British murderer who was dubbed a vampire by the tabloids. He killed half a dozen people in the 1930s to satisfy his craving for blood and said he preferred to tap his victims on the right side. They hanged him before anyone thought to ask why.

Then there’s the medical journal excerpt about an operation to remove a lump from a man’s neck. Turned out to be a plastic fang. After surgery, he groggily recalled that about a year earlier, at a Halloween party, a woman dressed as a vampire had bitten him. On the left this time.

Puerto Rico recently had an outbreak of the local equivalent of vampires — chupacabras. Judging from eyewitness descriptions, the things look either like tiny dinosaurs or maybe tailless kangaroos. They attack anything from kitties to farm animals, and the postmortems all look alike. The cause of death is two puncture wounds on the right side of the neck. Back stateside, observations by a TV critic determined that most people in the old Dark Shadows show, which starred a vampire, were bitten on the right.

The clincher may be a brief press encounter with Steffi Graf at this year’s Wimbledon. Desperate for copy, news hounds mobbed the jock and quizzed her about what they described as “a bite-sized, angry red mark on the right side of her neck.” “Vampires,” she said. Further investigation suggested the culprit was actually her boyfriend, who had arrived in London the night before.

Our on-line survey shows a decided right-hand tilt. Once again, Hollywood has it wrong. But we’ll end with a few more digital factlets to satisfy any cravings so far unmet. Did you know: the vampire bat was named after the human vampire, not vice versa; and the 1922 German 10,000-mark note bears the likeness of a vampire? Time to log off.

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