A couple of weeks ago G/O Media had a casket delivered to the office. We received a crimson red burial fixture from Titan Casket because my colleague, Kevin Hurler, has made Taylor Swift a facet of his personality that can be mined for blogs, and this casket (in a different colorway) was featured in her Anti-Hero music video. Naturally, he attempted to sleep in it, lasted about 30 minutes, and went about the rest of his day.
I don’t have any particular feelings one way or the other about Taylor Swift (she’s fine, I guess? No shade to Swifties, y’all do you) but I do care a lot about a couple different vampire shows and I have a deep and abiding need to commit to the bit in any situation. Naturally, I scheduled time with the casket and sent a pitch to my editor: “What if I attempted to sleep in the casket like a vampire?”
We discussed a few different options: lid open or closed? (Open, for safety, although this was quickly disregarded day-of.) Would I spend the night in the casket or the day? (Daytime, obviously, that’s when vampires sleep, duh.) Would I be able to deadtweet from the casket? (Absolutely not, said my editor. I did it anyway, because I thought that it would be hilarious. Fuck the man.) Should I dress up as a vampire? (We said yes, but then I realized I would have to wear a vampire costume in a casket for hours and I decided not to. Sorry, I am genuinely upset about this one.) Would Molly Taft, another colleague, dress up as Guillermo de la Cruz and stand guard my casket? (Yes, they would. However, they didn’t.) All these details sorted, I made my way into the office.
There was just one small snag. I was still alive. Everyone knows that vampires are undead creatures of the night, and I was still very much a living, breathing member of the human race. Luckily for me, Death was headed into the office.
Kirby Howell-Baptiste, a British actress who has appeared on Killing Eve, The Good Place, and Cruella, also plays the character Death of the Endless on Netflix’s Sandman, an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s seminal comic. It just so happened that on the day I was scheduled to get into a casket to meet undeath like a gentleman, Death herself decided to stop by. I had to show her my coffin, naturally, and she immediately tried it out, getting it ready for its next inhabitant (me) and generally being delightful. After we spoke (full interview coming soon!) I decided that I was ready. It was time to die.
I got in the casket. I know I told my editor I wouldn’t tweet, but I’m a monster, and I brought my phone, a book, and a flashlight into the coffin with me. My defense is that I’m sure modern vampires have their phone with them and Claudia in Interview With the Vampire has her little notebooks in her casket with her all the time, so bringing a book in was not such a stretch. And then, decision time. Should I close the lid or not?
RIP to Kevin Hurler, but I’m different. I decided that today was the day I was going to girlboss (not a girl) too close to the sun. I closed the lid. If I was going to do this, I was going to commit. The lid closed and I lay on my back, staring at the off-white of the satin that lined the top of the coffin and I thought to myself, you know, this actually isn’t so bad. And then, I fell asleep.
I woke up a few hours later, a little confused, slightly dehydrated, but, for the most part, totally fine. But I had reached a decision point. We had established that I could sleep in the coffin; now was my chance to call this a success, bail from my undead prison, and do actual work. But there were still a good five hours until sunset (at that day in New York City, the sun would set at 4:36pm) and I was already kind of cozy, and you know what, my mother didn’t raise a quitter. I stayed in that casket.
And then lunchtime hit. I slacked my boss who reminded me that under our union contract I was entitled to my lunch break, and as I could not actually subsist on human blood (granted, this was an assumption), I could leave the casket to get food. However, he said, I had to eat lunch in the casket. It was a compromise, but I was starving, and I took the deal. Which is why, about 30 minutes later, I was sitting in the casket with a burrito bowl and a cup of kombucha, and Justin Rodriguez took this very excellent picture of me to send to my editor as proof. I enclose it below.
Now, the home stretch. I slid back into repose and attempted to take another nap. No dice. I did manage to tuck the flashlight against my neck, put the book up right at the top of the casket, and read a chapter or two before my arms got tired. The book was, ironically enough, a horror novel by T. Kingfisher called A House With Good Bones. I recommend it. Very creepy. It comes out in March. Regardless, it did not make me sleepier.
There is something I should mention about caskets. They are not made with consideration towards body heat. I found out, very quickly, that my little body (which already runs pretty warm to begin with) was not made for caskets. I was very warm. Not warm enough to convince me to leave the casket, but certainly warm enough to cause me to become slightly clammy. It was not ideal, but I’m a trooper, and I can genuinely say that I have slept in less ideal conditions than a warm, dry casket in the middle of an open office in midtown Manhattan. Ask me about the summer I spent sleeping outside, in a hammock, on a boat, literally through lightening storms. Now that is an actual challenge.
So I continued to tweet occasionally, a few of my colleagues came by to say hello and talk with me, and I waited out the rest of my day. I opened the casket, just a little, while chatting with my comrades. I figured it was weird enough that I was literally sleeping in a casket in the middle of the workday, I might as well look them in the eye as I talk with them, while lying prone, in a casket. I have a very serious job.
And then, as I waited out the final 30 minutes in that warm, slightly humid casket that smelled faintly of ozone and pollo adobo, I asked myself. Could I do this every day? Could I set myself up in a casket, sleep throughout the sunlit hours, and then rise, renewed, a thirsty and fierce emissary of darkness? Could I suffer through the endless grind as the humans around me worked, gossiped, and took union-mandated lunch breaks, doing the very things that once made me human, things that I might never participate in again, as I lived as a devil in the shadows? Would I be able to stand living with myself in the liminal bardo between life and death, torn in between who I used to be and the limitless expanse of an immortal future?
Yeah, man. Absolutely. No question in my mind I could hack it. The casket? No problem. Slice of human pie. Blood? I mean… I’ll get there when I get there, but otherwise? I’m ready. I am fully prepared to take the next steps into undeath, accept the Dark Gift, and be reborn as a goddamn, badass, motherfucking vampire. Consider this test run a success. Give it to me. I’m ready to fully live the night afterlife.
Thus ends my experiment in vampirism, having spent a non-consecutive six hours in a casket. Not bad. I emerged from said casket, as dehydrated as an Arizona cacti in summer, but still I emerged. Maybe that’s why the vampires have such a strong thirst. The casket’s just not built to keep them dehumidified. Something for casket makers to think about. According to What We Do in the Shadows, every actor who has ever played a vampire on screen is actually a vampire just pretending to be a human actor. This makes sense. I’ve met a few of those actors, actually. One or two of them might even remember me. It seems like all I need to do to complete my transformation is to find Sam Reid and ask him to make me a Sampire. I mean, a vampire. A vampyr! You get it. I’ll let you know how it works out.
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