“Dad, can we go to Forks?” my daughter Poppy asked. I knew she meant business because she added “please,” a word she’s just about eliminated from her teenage lexicon.
“No way.” We were still safe in our home in New Mexico, poring over a map of Washington State, our vacation destination. For those of you who have been living in isolation, Forks is a former logging town that serves as the location for Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight
series—novels about vampires, werewolves and setting back women’s rights approximately 60 years.
The whole Twilight phenomenon makes me crazier than a hair salon infested with bats—the books are overly sentimental, the movies hysterically melodramatic, and Poppy and her friends switching from Team Edward to Team Jacob makes me want to join Team Suicide.
Two weeks later, we were caravanning along the picturesque Olympic Peninsula
with my sister-in-law Kate and nephew Layton who live in Seattle. Earlier that day, we’d scampered across logs and collected rocks at Rialto Beach and were on our way to the Hoh
, one of the finest temperate rain forests in the country. It was getting late and the kids were ravished, so I told Kate we should probably stop overnight somewhere.
“Well,” she said reluctantly, “the only place to stay is Forks.”
“Forks! Forks! Forks!” Poppy and Layton chanted from the backseat like true brainwashed Twihards. As for me, I could almost hear the morose sound track of my sad little life coming through the rental car speakers as we neared one of the rainiest spots in America. I moped in the car when the kids posed for pictures by the “Welcome to Forks” sign; I scowled at the barista when ordering our Bella Blend and Jacob Java; I gasped when the bagger at the grocery store told us it was a “good day for Twilighting” and handed us a tourist map. And when I caught sight of the Twilight tour bus filled with panting middle-aged women, I longed for the return of clear-cutting, so this town could wipe off the greasepaint and dump its whorish persona.
A kindly policeman driving a modern SUV pointed out the two clean hotels in this one-wolf town. The first only had a room with one queen-sized bed and there were six of us, so I crossed the street and entered the office of the competition. A pale woman sat behind the desk with what I first thought was her manager standing behind her. I then grew close enough to see that her manager was really a life-size cutout of actor Robert Pattinson.
“We have a non-smoking room with two queens,” she said, bored as hell.
“Great, we’ll take it.” By this time I looked and felt (and smelled) like the undead.
“It’s a Twilight-themed room, so it’ll cost ya.”
“You’re joking, right?”
“Nope. Someone shoulda told you not to come to Forks without a reservation.”
I scanned the room for hidden cameras. “This can’t be happening.”
“It comes with a free rental of the first movie after you sign a contract saying you won’t steal nothing.” She handed me a pen that bled red ink.
The bedspreads were crushed crimson velvet, the drapes sparkly black and, everywhere you turned, heartthrobs from the films stared right back at you like they wanted to suck way more than your blood. Even the towels and shower curtains looked like they were stolen from Bela Lugosi’s favorite bordello.
I fell asleep to the lip-chewing mumblings of actress Kristen Stewart but was awakened at 3 am to my nephew screaming.
“What’s wrong, Layton?” I asked, trying to remember where we were.
“Edward’s staring at me in the mirror!”
Sure enough, the pouting poser poster was lined up directly with the looking glass.
“Well, at least he can’t talk,” I said. “Now go sleep the sleep of the dead.”Robert Wilder’s most recent book is Tales from the Teachers’ Lounge. Daddy Needs a Drink appears the first Wednesday of each month in the Santa Fe Reporter.