Growing up, I was a lonely little kid. I wasn’t into sports, not like the other boys, so I wasn’t super popular in that way only athletic kids are. I wandered around during recess, chewing mournfully on my sandwich while the other kids buzzed around me. For the most part, I stuck to books, tuning everything else out. Or counted my Yu-Gi-Oh cards, reading over the descriptions and stats and obsessively making sure they were all perfectly aligned, no bends or creases.
Then I transitioned into Grade Five, moved to a new class and immediately made friends with a few girls from the year above. I’d always been more comfortable around my female peers. To me, they just gave off a different aura. At any rate, these girls were into the whole Twilight craze, and so was I – my teenage sister brought home one of the books once, and I nicked it and devoured it in a single sitting – so we just kind of bonded. We pushed our tables together, and that was that. We were firm friends.
I’d always been so worried about what my teachers thought of me. For as long as I could remember, I was the teacher’s pet – my hand shot up first, and I was always craning my neck, trying to be noticed. But I suddenly stopped caring about all that. When I was told off for chatting in class, I nodded, turned away and kept talking, just in a lower whisper. And when the bell rang for lunch, I had somewhere to be, friends to hang around with.
I was still bullied. A lot. But for the first time, there were people at my side, bristling on my behalf, snarling at the perpetrators to leave me alone. When Josh from one of the other classes called me gay for liking Twilight – I’m not sure I even knew what that meant, but I had enough of an inkling to know it wasn’t nice – my friends went and told the teacher, and the next day, he was scuffing his shoes and looking away, mumbling an apology.
When the movie came out, a group of us went and saw the midnight screening. We chatted happily in line, wriggled in our seats while everyone got settled and only fell silent once the lights dimmed. Afterwards, we burst out of the cinema, clutching our limited edition posters and cups and babbling excitedly about what we’d just witnessed.
Fast forward almost a decade. My posters are all gone, the walls stripped bare. My Twilight trading cards – because I was a Yu-Gi-Oh geek before all this, remember? – are gathering dust in their plastic envelopes. And my Stephenie Meyer books are carelessly shoved into a corner of my bookshelf, tucked away without a second glance.
Somewhere along the line, I lost faith in Twilight. Maybe it had something to do with all the articles I read about Bella Swan being little more than a cardboard Mary-Sue who willingly embraces a fatalistic relationship, setting a dangerous precedent for tweens everywhere. Or maybe my tastes just evolved to the point where I couldn’t suffer through one more page of mind-achingly purple prose without wanting to fling the damn thing through a window.
Whatever the case, I’ve never lamented my glory days. How could I? Like it or not, Twilight was a central part of my childhood, something I orbited around. Sure, I’m able to poke fun at it now – I can rant about deeply enmeshed misogyny and toxic co-dependency in Twilight just as well as the next person – but I try to stay away from most of the viciously anti-Twilight propaganda circulating the internet. I’m not into shaming readers for their bookish obsessions.
And if nothing else, for that I think Grade Five me would be proud.Support Villainesse