MUZAK AND DRACULA

Imagine: while shopping in a Safeway supermarket in the suburbs of Houston, Texas, circa 1974, you see Count Dracula filling his shopping cart with laundry detergent, toilet paper, Purina-brand dog food, carrots, celery, Snickers bars and a copy of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. It’s hard to believe it’s really him. Should you dare approach him to get a closer look? It could be dangerous. Suddenly, you forget all about the Lord of Vampires when you hear an instrumental rendition of “My Beautiful Balloon” droning through the store’s audio system. Next up, it’s “Wichita Lineman,” or “Edelweiss,” then (my mom’s personal favorite) “Bein’ Green.” The harmonies hit you like an opiate. You’ve been transported to an air-conditioned Shangri-La. You tell yourself the music you hear in this grocery store is the most beautiful music in the world. You are, like the products on the shelves that surround you, contained and presentable. You’re luminous … and illuminated. On aisle 4 (baby food and diapers), those marvelous melodies begin to penetrate your skin; on aisle 5 (frozen foods), sumptuous songs slide across your muscles; by the time you’re on aisle 6 (dairy products and eggs), soothing sounds have settled into your bones. The walls of the Safeway are painted white and some kind of heavenly pastel blue. The music and the clean and noble atmosphere cause you to shiver in ecstasy. But something’s missing. As you reach for a package of Oscar Mayer hot dogs, you notice that Dracula is suddenly right beside you, the hem of his satin cape almost touching your plaid bell-bottom golf pants. You’re amazed that he looks as thrillingly bizarre in person as he does in the movies: black hair, white skin, red lips, shiny fangs, long fingernails. He’s holding some freshly-ground hamburger meat and staring at it. It’s as though he were hypnotized by the meat, like he wants to confess something to it, to tell it all his secrets, his life story. He wants the hamburger meat to know how a Romanian nobleman became a vampire and ended up in Texas hundreds of years later. Now, nothing is missing. You are fulfilled. Everything is golden perfection … complete, and utterly without flaw.

 

© Brett Davidson, 2014


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