Friday, December 16, 2011

Confessions of a 40-Something Twihard

I came late to the Twihard Party. Of course I’d heard about Stephenie Meyer and her books. But she was a YA (young adult) author, and I was staring at the big 40.  Would I even be able to relate to her characters? To my 12-year-old son, I’ve been old for years. But if the criteria are maturity and behavior, I’m pretty sure I peaked in high-school, which would make me the perfect age to read the Twilight series. I circled them for years in the bookstores. But when the last one came out in 2008, it was decision time. For me, it came down to two things—an overwhelming curiosity to see what had caused such frenzy and a love of fangs. (See my first blog post:

Once I started the books, I found it difficult to stop. The only other experience I can compare it to was reading the Harry Potter series. I was late to that party as well, so I was able to read the first four books in about a week before joining in the agonizing wait for the last three. Meyer’s vampire world is just as engrossing. Asking me to describe why Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn are so magical is like trying to capture lighting in a bottle—in other words, nearly impossible. In fact, somewhere during my third time through the series, I realized that while the books are exceptional, the writing…not so much. The words themselves are not particularly imaginative. The adjectives repeat endlessly, especially when it comes to Edward. How many times did I read the words bronze (his hair), marble (his chest), and perfection (his face)? Yet Meyer's words never stopped to thrill me. And to say that her books changed my life would be an understatement.

But being a 40-something Twihard is not always easy. I remember talking to another mother at my son’s school and finding out by chance that we were both fans of the series. The look we exchanged was equal parts guilt, chagrin, and bravado. I found myself thinking: at least she had a tweenage daughter that turned her on to the series. What was my excuse? Another time my husband described taking a business trip with a male co-worker who was completely engrossed in a book. When asked the title, the man was slightly embarrassed. “I needed something to read, so I just picked it up in the airport.” It was obvious the man had been doing his best to hide the cover with its iconic apple. And what is it about apples anyway? Adam and Eve. Snow White and the Evil Queen. Steve Jobs and his gadgets. And now Stephenie Meyer and her vamps. Apparently this fruit is simply irresistible to us humans.

When the first Twilight movie came out, I saw it with a friend. We went opening night. Big mistake! The theater was filled with teenagers who screamed every time Edward (aka Robert Pattinson) came onscreen. And their cacophonous wailing made it difficult to hear the “low-talker.” We learned our lesson and chose to wait—albeit impatiently—to see the second movie a week after its release. To hedge our bets, we also chose a matinee. Our tactics worked. The theater was relatively empty of hysterical teenager girls. Even better, we weren’t the oldest ones in the theater. Two 50-something black women sat one row down. Briefly I wondered why they chose this particular movie to see. I got my answer when they started hollering and whistling at a bare-chested Jacob (aka Taylor Lautner). Apparently, Team Edward and Team Jacob know no age boundaries. The third movie presented its own dilemma: my tweenage son expressed an interest in seeing it with us. Was it so wrong that I wanted to enjoy Edward without my son in the audience? I didn’t think so, which is why I watched it at home with him when it came out on DVD. My husband abstained. He’d grown tired of my Robert Pattinson—er, I mean Edward—obsession.

And yes, at this point, I will admit that I’d become a bit of a Twihard. I had it all: the Edward key ring, the Edward book marks, the Twilight calendar. It was only when I purchased and hung the Robert Pattinson calendar in my office that I realized I’d gone too far. This year, I somewhat reluctantly broke the habit. I walked away from the Twilight and Pattinson calendars and bought an Erté calendar instead. High art! How mature of me. Just don’t ask if I took down the Edward and Bella paraphernalia taped next to my office computer.

As you can see, my love of Meyer's books eventually overcame whatever embarrassment I felt. I’m officially out of the Twihard closet and extolling the series to the last hundred or so people who haven’t read it. My hardest convert was probably my brother. Jean-Paul was an Army Ranger. He was tough. He was taciturn. He wasn’t much for sharing his feelings. So when I tried to sell him on an epic love story, he was leery. In desperation, I played up the vampires and werewolves. “They’re mortal enemies,” I told him. “And there’s some awesome fights—kinda like Underworld.” (Okay, Twilight is nothing like the Underworld movies, but I knew that if I could just get him to start the book, he wouldn’t be able to put it down.) Jean-Paul was reading Twilight when he succumbed to testicular cancer on December 19, 2009.

My sister-in-law found the book in the backpack he always took to chemotherapy. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, my sister-in-law is not a reader. But she began to read the book in the weeks following her husband’s death. Oftentimes I wonder if it was just another way to hold Jean-Paul close. Whatever the reason, my sister-in-law devoured Twilight. She read it late at night when she couldn’t sleep. She read it on the long trips between her house in Georgia, my parent’s house in Pennsylvania, and Arlington Cemetery where we buried Jean-Paul. When she finished, I immediately ran out and bought her a copy of New Moon and Eclipse. She wanted to finish Bella and Edward’s story. I wanted to do something to help her through this terrible time. It was clear that Meyer’s books were about the only thing that gave her some peace—a way to escape, however briefly, from her grief. To this day, my love for the series is intrinsically tied to the most painful experience of my life—exquisite pleasure and overwhelming pain. Somehow I think Bella and Edward and their creator Stephenie Meyer would understand.   


  1. Wasn't ready for this. Want to go re read the series in honor of JP.

  2. Fantastic post. Imagine what it was like being a male "Twihard"!

  3. Thank you, Monique! You are right...I don't know what I would have done without Bella and Edward after Jean-Paul! I have now read the entire Twilight series--three times!!
    I love you sister-in-law, and love your blog!