Do you practice The Vampire Test?
It’s a simple way to know who to let in and out of your life.
— Austin Kleon (@austinkleon) December 8, 2020
It may be easier or harder to practice during a pandemic, depending on your situation. (I often joke in talks, “Children don’t count. Their job is to suck you dry.”)
I got the idea for the test from a story in John Richardson’s A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932 (Vol 3). Brancusi, who’d had several of his sculptural ideas ripped off from Pablo, “was anything but an admirer of Picasso or his work”:
[He] disapproved of [one of] of Picasso’s fundamental characteristics—one that was all too familiar to the latter’s fellow artists and friends—his habit of making off not so much with their ideas as with their energy. “Picasso is a cannibal,” Brancusi said. He had a point. After a pleasurable day in Picasso’s company, those present were apt to end up suffering from collective nervous exhaustion. Picasso had made off with their energy and would go off to his studio and spend all night living off it. Brancusi hailed from vampire country and knew about such things, and he was not going to have his energy or the fruits of his energy appropriated by Picasso.
I also cribbed a little from this Lynda Barry interview:
[T]here is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energized or less energized. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and I suggest that you use it for the rest of your life.
What’s really funny is that the book came out in 2014, way before the What We Do In The Shadows show, which features one of my all-time favorite characters, Colin Robinson, a self-proclaimed “energy vampire”:
You gotta look out for these people. Once you start noticing them… they’re everywhere!