Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Vampires Really Do Suck

When you thread your way up the southern coast of Oregon, you eventually come to a small seaside town called Gold Beach. The village itself isn't much, just a strip of motels and restaurants and the odd business that caters to West Coast sensibilities, like surfing supplies and doggie cupcakes.

But nestled against the unspoiled sand dunes and the impossibly wide beach is a place called Ireland's Rustic Lodges. The sign on the road proclaims that it's World Famous, and it stood out to such a degree from all the cookie-cutter motels on my recent trip north that I did a U-turn and checked in. The rooms are knotty-pine with vaulted ceilings, and they promise you all the firewood you can burn in the enormous stone hearth. Burn it I did, though the night was warm and still, and I fell asleep to the sound of the surf dragging across the sand.

In the morning I went down to take advantage of the complimentary breakfast room, and found it filled with a group of eight or so young people. From my vantage point it's impossible to gauge the age of youngsters these days but I'd guess they were college freshmen, falling somewhere between the classifications of hipster doofus and nerd, with the sort of self-possessed confidence that young people have today. They seemed to have some sort of shared purpose or direction, and though I was concerned that they would turn out to be members of a church group or, worse, chastity pledges, I began to talk to them. The reality was worse: they were on a self-guided tour of filming locations for the Twilight movie franchise.

"Wasn't that filmed in Washington state?" I asked, deliberately trying to rain on their parade.

"Oh, no," replied one boy in skinny black jeans and heavy black-framed glasses. "People think the location shots were all done in Washington. But a lot of it was filmed here in Oregon. Some scenes were even filmed nearby," he added in what I'm sure he thought was a tantalizing tone.

"So, what do you do when you get to one of these sites?" I asked, suddenly remembering being stopped on a street in San Francisco years ago by a New Jersey couple looking for Mrs. Doubtfire's house. "You know it's a movie, right?" I had said uncharitably before continuing my morning run.

The kids exchanged glances -- they were humoring me. "Sometimes we take digital pictures of ourselves where the characters were," a pretty brunette girl explained patiently. "And sometimes we just, you know...take it in."

Someone's bagel popped out of a toaster with a sad twang. "So you guys are really into this Twilight stuff, huh?" I said. "Why do you think it appeals to you so much?"

The only fat girl, her blondish hair dyed in chunks of blue and vermillion, answered almost tearfully. "He just loves her so much!" she exclaimed, color rushing to her wide, oily cheeks.

"What other books do you read?" I asked.

"We were really into Harry Potter," a skinny blond boy with a pierced eyebrow responded. "But that's, like, over." Big surprise, I thought. During the Harry Potter heyday, there were endless articles about how the series had driven kids back to reading. But if you asked those same kids what else they were reading, the answer was that they were rereading Harry Potter.

"You know, there are so many great books to read," I ventured. "Especially if you're drawn to the idea of obsessive love. Have you ever read D.H. Lawrence, or Jane Austen? Or how about Madame Bovary, by Flaubert, or even The Collector, by John Fowler? Most of them have even been turned into some really great films."

The kids looked at me blankly; the pretty brunette was texting someone on her iPhone. Only the fat girl answered me. "Are they about vampires?"

I went back to my lodge and started packing up the car.

No comments:

Post a Comment