"I would love to be bitten by Edward," Tanna says. "He's just everything. Oh, my God. It's O.M.E.—oh, my Edward! Not a day goes by that I don't think about Twilight. I think about Twilight as much as men think about sex."
Ask these two friends why so many women their age have latched onto Twilight, and they answer in unison: "Forbidden love." Then ask them if Edward bears a resemblance to their husbands.
"Not at all," Lynn says.
"Nooo," says Tanna. "No way."
They go on to talk about something that becomes a running theme during this weekend—so much so, in fact, that a casual visitor might come to the conclusion that all that vampire stuff is little more than a red herring. What Stephenie Meyer Day really boils down to is a cloaked symposium on the state of American marriage. In other words: Gentlemen, your wives have something they want to tell you. The polite way to put it is that the pressures and demands of running a home in the 21st century have a way of siphoning off the platelets from even the most red-blooded of romantic unions. To be blunt: Life is a grind, and our wives are bored shitless. Edward Cullen has, for millions of passion-starved better halves worldwide, become the undead embodiment of everything the contemporary schlub seems to have shed: danger, poetry, strength, speed, eternal devotion, and an insatiable hunger for the jugular. Meanwhile, the defanged mortal males of Earth, their rumps firmly planted in front of the flat-screen and their breath faintly fragrant of Pirate's Booty, have become, thanks to Edward, one big collective cuckold.
"A lot of guys tell me they think Edward's a stalker," says Kristina Hart, a 30-year-old Boeing employee. "I wouldn't mind being stalked by Edward." She's wearing a T-shirt that says, "Edward can BUST my headboard, BITE my pillows, and BRUISE my body any day!"
Apparently it's not Edward Cullen who's been living in the dark. It's you.
The topic of Edward Cullen has, inevitably, touched off an endless and tumultuous dialogue on the Internet. He has become what Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Titanic was in the late nineties: a gleaming ideal (of what women want a man to be) and a snarling rebuke (because so few dudes even come close). There are YouTube symposia for men such as "7 Lessons Guys Can Learn from Edward Cullen." There are swoony yet self-lacerating posts along the lines of Natalie Cottrell's "Why Edward Cullen is bad news," in which the Texas blogger writes that "upon reflection, I've realized that all the same reasons I salivate every time his beautiful, pale mug comes on screen are the same reasons that I continue to be disappointed by guys." An Australian scholar named Lisa Bode frets that Edward is draining the lifeblood from relationships in the nonfictional realm of dull, flabby mortals. Pointing to Facebook groups like "Twilight has ruined any chance I have at a realistic relationship," she's said women are "idealizing Edward to the point where real men can't compete."