A guy who wishes he’d had sons
Look, if you’re feeling at all homicidal this morning, just stop reading now because this isn’t going to help any. The gist of the story is that when Stephenie Meyer was writing Dawson’s Crypt, she chose Forks, Washington as the setting, even though she’d never been there, because it happened to be the rainiest city in the lower 48. The town of 3,000 has since become the epicenter of the new Idiot Tourism industry.
Sydney Conway and two of her teenage friends, on a school holiday, got into a minivan and drove four hours — to stare at the nondescript brick building that is Forks High School. There’s a weathered wooden sign announcing it as “the home of the Spartans,” but otherwise it looks like most other high schools in the country.
Sydney, Alexis Miller and Rebekah Hamilton got out of their van, stood in front of the school — oblivious to the cool mist that was frizzing their hair and chilling their pedicured, flip-flopped feet — and screamed, “Twilight!”
Ugh, I’m nauseous. And I’m getting that yearning feeling in my fists. But wait! It gets worse!
Forks High School is often besieged with Twilighters, who pose for pictures in front of the Spartans sign or scan the parking lot for Edward’s car, a silver Volvo sedan. Some have even wandered inside to seek out the fictional characters. Still others have requested to be transferred to the school.
Yeah, I went to LA to see the people from Crash, but no one shot me, I didn’t see cops doing anything racist, and there wasn’t a single preposterous coincidence. All in all, pretty gay.
A few blocks over, Anna Vandenhole, 46, was traipsing down the sidewalk of Forks Avenue, on the hunt for an official Bella bracelet — a piece of costume jewelry festooned with charms and Swarovski crystals that Meyer herself helped design.
Bitch, you’re 46. Your life is more than half over and you’re spending the remainder of it looking for a plastic bracelet from a book aimed at 13-year-olds. Take a second to reflect. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
“We’re just looking for trinkets and the photo ops. They’ve already got their T-shirts,” Vandenhole said, glancing at her 17-year-old son, Sonny, and his girlfriend, Ashley Parker, 16, who were wearing matching black Twilight T-shirts.
“How often have you ever taken a vacation to see a grocery store, a high school and a hospital?” asked Janet Hughes, owner of JT’s Sweet Stuffs, a brightly lit candy shop that sells Twilight delights: Edward Bites (chocolate-covered peppermint bark) and Bella Creams (mint butter creams). “We’ve had people from all over the world.” [Says commenter So I: "Edward bites, Bella Creams?" Yeah, that about sums it up.]
Have I pointed out that the main character’s name is “Bella Swan” yet? That’s like the 13-year-old girl equivalent of “Hercules J. Billionaire”.
Many locals have played along with the themes in the Twilight books — and business has boomed.
“It’s not that hard to put [Twilighters] over the edge,” said Julie Hjelmeset, the inn’s manager stater of the obvious. She transformed the double-queen bedroom in the otherwise run-of-the-mill hotel by swapping the white linens and towels for racier black-and-red versions and resting imitation long-stemmed roses on the beds. Bella’s Suite fetches double the rate of a regular room — $149 a night versus $74.
When fans sought authentic Twilight food, Sully’s Burgers obliged. The Bellaburger — a hamburger topped with a ring of pineapple and a slice of Swiss cheese and served with a pair of plastic vampire teeth — is the bestselling item at the mom-and-pop restaurant. Never mind that this burger does not exist in the books. Nor do the Bellasagna, Bellaberry (raspberry/blueberry) pie and other Twilight foods offered at area restaurants.
How about BellaGlocks? I need something to Bella-ow my brains out with.
Sully’s manager, Bruce Guckenberg, has four daughters, all of whom have read the books and three of whom work at the restaurant. What’s been most surprising to Christina Guckenberg, 30, is how seriously some fans take the books. She was especially surprised by a customer who hoped to meet Chief Charlie Swan, the fictional Forks police officer who is Bella’s dad.
“You mean Chief Powell?” Christina countered, offering her customer the name of the real Forks head of police.
Having strangers call him Charlie is “kind of flattering, but it’s weird because it’s from a book,” said Mike Powell, who has good-naturedly started answering to the fictitious name. Powell also signs autographs as Chief Swan and poses for pictures with his squad car. He plays along, he said, because “it’s good for the town.”
That’s nice of him to humor them. It’s kinda like when I visit my grandma with Alzheimer’s at the nursing home. “I know, grandma, I can’t wait to go home too!”
But not everyone in town understands the books’ appeal, or why their fans are descending upon Forks.
“Our kids don’t see the novelty,” said Mark Brandmire, assistant principal of Forks High School. “What part of ‘fiction’ don’t you get?” [LA Times - thanks to RoboPanda for the tip]
It’s sad that the town has to stoop to this just to make a cheap buck. I mean, whatever happened to boosting tourism the old fashioned way, by putting a hat on a cat and naming it the train conductor?