Let me begin this with a confession: I’m slightly obsessed with the CW show, “The Vampire Diaries.”
I only discovered the show (already well into its fourth season) about two months ago, but have binged my way through the whole glorious thing and now stand caught up. The bigger news here is that I’m finally stepping out of the closet and admitting to not only watching the show, but also clicking through various Tumblrs and a few fan vids on YouTube. Listen, I’ve even started reading up on one of the show’s main actors (ahem…my boyfriend) Paul Wesley.
My name is Nicole. I'm a grown woman. And I’m a vampire addict.
It all started rather innocently with another set of vampires -- sparkly ones. I was working as a senior editor for a women’s magazine five years ago. We had just launched a new section highlighting the myriad “hotties” (their word) of Hollywood. I was tasked with interviewing these guys -- mainly young actors -- for a brief Q&A.
I’m pretty on top of my pop culture. I’m fairly familiar with most of the dewy-faced ingénues and Tiger Beat boys who roll out of those Hills. However, when my top editor Nikki told about my latest “hottie” assignment, the name rang no bells. Hell, I wasn’t even sure how to pronounce this kid’s name -- Pattinson?
Cut to Act 2 in my personal life movie a year later, and I’ve given birth to a baby boy. One late night (or early morning…it never matters to the sleep-deprived) while breastfeeding for the eleventy-fifth time, I decided to turn on the television. You know, so I don’t fall asleep narcolepsy-style on le bébé -- again.
And there it was on Showtime, “Twilight.” It was maybe 30 minutes in, so I turned on the Closed Captioning and watched the love story unfold.
It happened again a few nights later, and again I watched a large portion. Soon, I was scanning the guide on the television to see when the movie was coming on so I could finally catch it from the beginning. My husband noticed that the guide scan had become A Thing and surprised me -- on Mother’s Day, no less! -- with the DVD. I watched it in relative peace maybe twice, in chunks. Again, newborn life.
Of course I saw the flaws in this movie from early on -- high cheese factor, lame dialogue, ridiculous conventions, and some lukewarm performances (not you, Rob!) -- but felt pulled into it anyway. There was something about stashing my reasonable, higher-brow sensibilities and real-world, adult responsibilities under the bed for 45 minutes to immerse my partially addled brain in cotton candy.
I may have been late to “Twilight” craze, but the movie arrived right on time for me. I had just become someone’s mother -- a monumental shift -- and trying, with patchy success, to figure out where the “me” stood in this updated picture.
The sparkly, romantic fantasy between a young woman and a vampire was less guilty pleasure and more quasi-life preserver. I needed a place to take my mind where I could quiet my mounting anxieties and instead pump up the volume on other things; simple, sunny and bright things like remembering how it felt to fall in crazy-love with someone.
The magnet-pull of the “Twilight” zone dimmed shortly after getting the DVD. (I also made the mistake of flipping through one of the books. Like hot, pea soup to this writer’s face.) I moved on to headier terrain, namely “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad.”
But then another life shift came. We moved to Connecticut last year. Not just Connecticut, but basically middle-of-the-woods Connecticut, where deer, bears and wild turkeys regularly stomp through our backyard. We don’t see neighbors, because they too live in the woods.
I have a meeting here and there, but typically my writer’s life/country home office leaves me feeling sequestered and rather unsettled. Being an action person, I tried to figure out how to regain my balance. Reading books and staying on top of media already fold into what I do for a living, so somewhat unconsciously I started looking for that other thing, that cotton candy.
One late night, after meeting a tight and tough deadline, I clicked on Netflix to decompress. Because I have watched “Felicity” in the past (Team Ben!), Netflix suggested “The Vampire Diaries.” Vampires, high school, grand love, foggy town? Sure.
First, everyone on this show is gorgeous, but especially the three main stars who make up the love triangle. It’s all close-face talking and mystery and broody stare downs and warm, melty kisses and tear-stained proclamations of epic love. People are thirsty for everything and carnal and compelled.
Mind you, somehow there’s a themed school dance worked into nearly every episode, and at said dances you can count on at least two people turning up dead -- gruesomely too (hearts ripped clean out is one common cause of death in Mystic Falls). But through all the goopy murders and outlandish fantasy, it always comes back to being about love.
Clearly, I’ve found my sugary treat (by the way, if it’s not obvi. already, I’m here all day for Stefan Salvatore), but there’s a slight difference this time. I’m not looking to a show or movie or set of CGI’d fangs to help me find myself in a new world order. I know where I stand in the thick of it: I’m a mother and a writer and fan of love stories who needs to move out of the woods (and will, trust).
Cotton candy is vital in this adult life. It’s work out here, man! On any given day, we’re making decisions, smashing fears, thinking big, bolstering dreams, taking stands, plotting take-overs, and trying to keep it cute through it all.
“What are you, 12? Cotton candy will break your teeth,” the detractor says.
Oh, bite me.