Not That You Asked: Twilight’s Bella Swan Edition
Not That You Asked: Twilight’s Bella Swan Edition
I can’t get into Twilight.
My indifference has come as something of a surprise to me, as I am usually a sucker for anything overblown, childish, and ubiquitous. I tried to read the books, but after I counted something like eight dangling participles in the first three pages, my inner English teacher and I gave up. I watched the first movie on pay-per-view when I was home sick one day, and I, like everyone in America, developed a pervy old-lady crush on that boy who played Cedric Diggory, so I went to see the second, hoping he might have a shower scene or a bathtub scene or maybe a scene where he stands under a magical waterfall and all his clothes fall off. (SPOILER ALERT–None of these things happen.)
However, as my regular readers know too well, me not really liking something (or someone) doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions about it. So think of the following advice as something like fan-fiction, or rather, anti-fan fiction, in which I make Bella Swan act less like herself and more the way I would advise her to act. And yes, Twilight purists, I know the books are written in first-person, but this isn’t. Deal with it.
Twilight: Newer Moon
Bella awoke with a start. Her sheets were damp again. “Shit,” thought Bella, “I hope I didn’t wet the bed. That would certainly be an inauspicious start to the day.” Cautiously, she lifted a sopping length of Laura Ashley cotton to the delicate nostrils that were located exactly in the middle of her pale, heart-shaped face. She sniffed, but could detect no pungent urine aroma. The dampness was just sweat, which was unsurprising, since she’d been having a nightmare about being an old lady, which again, was unsurprising, because it was her birthday. Bella was eighteen, which is not very old to some people, but is getting up there if you are the girlfriend an immortal teenage vampire or a working Hollywood actor. Bella was both these things. She resolved as soon as possible to make an appointment for Botox injections with Dr. Waxman, who was Forks, Washington’s only dermatologist and Jew. Until then, she would just try to stay out of direct sunlight. It wouldn’t be that hard. Forks got less sunlight than any place in the universe, apart from Hell and some parts of Scotland. And Hell, thought Bella, as she pulled on her favorite snowpants and the Carhart jacket Edward promised didn’t make her look like a lesbian, was at least hot.
Jacob Black, this neighbor kid who liked to wear a Cher wig, was waiting for her by her truck outside. “Happy Birthday Bella,” said Jacob. “I got you a present. It’s a traditional Native American dream-catcher to keep your bad dreams away. I got it at Spencer Gifts. If you don’t like it, you can always take it back and get a Family Guy poster of a set of drinking straws shaped like penises. I have a gift receipt.”
“Thank you, Jacob,” said Bella sincerely. “It’s really nice.” Jacob flexed his pectoral muscles several times. This was how he showed he was pleased.
When Edward Cullen, Bella’s incredibly handsome and committed vampire boyfriend saw the gift, he was less pleased. “Why does Jacob Black get to give you a birthday present, and I don’t?” He drew his red lips into a delicious pout. Rage, tempered with sexual desire, pulsated through Bella’s body.
“What do you mean, you didn’t get me a present?” she said.
“Well,” said Edward, “you said you didn’t want me to get you anything so…”
“Are you serious? Are you seriously serious?”
Edward’s amber eyes flashed dangerously. “You told me not to get anything, so I didn’t! How was I supposed to know you didn’t mean it?”
“Because I’m a girl!” cried Bella. “And you’re supposed to be the fucking mind reader!” Bella wondered if she ought to sit Edward down in front of an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the one about Ted Danson’s birthday party and its “no-gifts” policy, but Edward didn’t have much of a sense of humor. “What is that bald man whining about,” he would say, “doesn’t he know how lucky he is to still have a soul?”
Edward lowered his eyelashes sadly. A shaft of light bounced off the trophy case and illuminated his truly glorious left cheekbone. Bella sighed. He was just so hot. And there would be lots of time to date interesting, funny boys in college, and later on, when she was travelling the world as a best-selling author and world-renowned bioethicist. “Look,” said Bella, in a softer tone. “How about after school we drive up to the Neiman Marcus in Seattle so you can buy me a present, and then afterwards we go somewhere and do it?”
“You know,” said Bella with a sly smile. In a manner she hoped was seductive, she slowly moved her index finger through a hole she made with the thumb and index finger of her other hand. “It.”
Edward visibly recoiled. Bella tried another tactic. “Honey,” she said, in her most cajoling tone, “I understand. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You may look seventeen, but I know you’re really 109 years old. If you’re worried about…you know…performing, I stole some Viagra out of my dad’s patrol car.”
Edward said, “I don’t think we should see each other anymore.”
Bella said, “Is this because you’re threatened by my healthily open assertion of my own burgeoning sexuality?”
Edward said, “Yes.”
At first Bella was sad about Edward dumping her, as is natural when someone is rejected or faced with a time of change. But after a couple of days (okay, maybe a week), she felt much better. After all, Edward was awfully possessive, and besides, she deeply resented his attempt to shame her about being forthright about her physical needs. And at least she wouldn’t have to deal with his creepy family anymore, with their weird glazed expressions of fake empathy and hair that made them all look like Van Johnson, even the girls. Thus cheered, she decided to go ride motorcycles with Jacob Black. Jacob was a little too happy to see her. “Sweet,” he said. “I never took you for a biker chick, Bella. Glad you’ve decided to slum it.”
At first, Bella was doing great on the motorcycle, but then Edward popped up in vapor form over her shoulder. “This is dangerous, Bella,” he whispered. “You can’t do this. You’re going to crash. You’re going to crash. You’re going to–”
Bella crashed. Edward vanished. “Fuck you, Edward,” yelled Bella. “Of course I’m going to crash if you do that! Stop undermining me!” Blood was gushing from Bella’s head. Jacob rushed over to help her. He had an entire first aid kit, complete with bandages and tourniquets in the car, but instead he ripped off his shirt, so Bella and the audience could see his chest, which he had been working very hard on lately. He held his T-shirt to Bella’s bleeding head, so her pale, heart-shaped face was pressed against his taut, tight six-pack of washboard abs. “I love you, Bella,” said Jacob. “I want to do it with you all the time.”
“Jacob,” said Bella carefully, a little resentful that he was starting this shit when she was bleeding and had a possible concussion, “I think it’s really great that you’ve gotten into such great shape. Unfortunately, I’m not yet at a stage in my emotional development where I’m sexually attracted to men who openly adore me. However, when I’m in late middle-age and desperately casting around for a third husband before it’s too late, you will be the first on my list. Also, your face looks like one of those whales that has its nose on the top of its head.”
“Don’t make me mad, Bella,” Jacob warned. “Because if you make me mad, I’m going to hurt you, and it won’t be my fault. It’ll be yours, because you didn’t listen and you made me mad.”
“That is classic domestic abuser language,” said Bella. “I don’t want anything to do with you. I have too much self-esteem. Now get lost.”
“Fine,” said Jacob, and he ran off howling to join his other buff, shirtless brothers who did secret shirtless things with each other in the forest. The snug waistband of his 2Exist underpants was clearly visible above his cutoffs, clinging to the rising swell of his upper buttocks as he ran.
Later on, Bella was in the lobby of Dr. Waxman’s office, waiting for her Botox injections. “I don’t know what it is with me,” she complained to the wise old Indian sitting beside her. “Between the guys who think they’re vampires and the guys who think they’re werewolves, I just can’t catch a break.”
“Maybe you should stop dating guys from marching band,” said the wise old Indian.
Bella was pondering the wisdom of this statement, when Alice, Edward’s annoying stepsister, burst into the office. “Bella!” she shrieked, in her affected hippy-fairy voice. “Edward is going to kill himself because he thinks you’re dying!”
“Why does he think I’m dying?” asked Bella.
Alice said, “Why else would you be in a doctor’s office?”
“This is a dermatologist’s office,” said Bella testily, “and I’m here because I need to be able to keep playing a teenager for the rest of this franchise.”
“Anyway,” Alice said. “He’s going to kill himself.”
Bella sighed. “This is so manipulative.”
“You have to come to Italy and save him,” said Alice. “Will you?”
“Fine,” said Bella. “But I get my own hotel room.”
In Italy, Edward was waiting for them in the apse of some ancient cathedral, dressed up in Juliette Binoche’s dress from the 1997 Oscars. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was also there, seated on a black marble throne, along with Dakota Fanning.
“Hello,” trilled Tony Blair, flashing the blinding smile that had first swept New Labour to power. “It’s so lovely to meet you. Would you care for a cup of tea?”
“This is bullshit,” said Dakota Fanning. “I’m the next Meryl Streep. Kurt Russell said so; and I’ve got like five fucking lines. I only did this stupid movie because I hoped I’d get to hook up with Pattinson.”
“Dakota,” Edward said, lapsing back into his real English accent for a moment, “I told you, you’re underage. In a couple of years, trust me. I’ll hook you up so hard you’ll think you were a side of beef.”
“Okay,” said Bella. “Are we done here yet?”
“Of course,” said Tony Blair. “You’re free to go, for now. But technically I’m out of power, so I can’t make any promises as to what Gordon will do. He’s the most powerful vampire of us all, you know. And once Cameron and the Tories get in next election, well darling, all bets are off. But good luck for now. Cheerio!”
Outside, by the drinking fountain, Edward grabbed Bella’s hand. “You see, Bella,” he said, “I can’t live without you.”
“You were the one who broke up with me,” Bella pointed out.
“I know,” Edward said. “And I’m sorry. But I love you. Marry me, Bella.”
Bella took a deep breath. This wasn’t going to be easy. “Edward,” she said, “you are almost definitely the hottest guy I am ever going to date. But you won’t fuck me, so honestly, what’s the point? And besides, I’m only eighteen years old, and I’m uncomfortable with the idea of making a lifetime commitment to someone who frankly, seems to harbor such patriarchal views towards women and sex.”
“Fine,” said Edward. “By the way, you should really keep the brown contacts in, because your real eyes make you look like a permanently stoned version of Data from Star Trek. Not that you asked.”
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