Christopher Metcalf
Writer - Author - Prevaricator


Essays, Thoughts & Such


I wrote a little essay after reading all four books from the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. Those who know me, or better yet, thought they knew me, have been quite surprised to learn of my tender, loving and I dare say it, compassionate side. Damn, the secret is out.

Below are a 650-word version published by the Tulsa World and original 1,000-word versions of the article. The longer version was just published on TulsaPeople.com.

So, after hearing a number of times "why don't you like Jacob?" or the less formal, "what's your deal with Jacob?" I can report that I wrote an essay on this aspect of my reaction to the stories.  It is below... No, I didn't plan on writing a series of "The Twilight Effect" essays, but if the public demands it, I must respond in kind. It will be posted next week.

In April, I wrote a Letter to the Editor  of the Jenks Journal about a little road construction project. TheTree Tunnel essay is located at the bottom of this page.

Thanks again for your interest.


The Twilight Effect, or Thank You Stephenie


This is the 650-word column for submission requirements (the original 1,000-word version is below)

Okay, statistics first. I’m 43, husband, father, PR guy. Team Edward.

I knew the basics of Stephenie Meyer’s wildly popular Twilight Saga phenomenon. A high school girl, Bella, falls in love with a vampire, Edward. He’s a gentleman; chivalrous, conservative, no sex until marriage. She’s self-deprecating to a fault. The book series sold like, well, like Twilight books.

For me, first came the movie. We got a free weekend of Showtime and Twilight was on. Boom, I was hooked. Now, I know movies and this was no great film, but it captured my attention. I couldn’t stop talking about it. Talked with my wife, mother, co-workers and strangers. My 14-year-old daughter avoided laughing at me, to my face at least.

We got the set of four books and I dove in. We rented New Moon the following weekend. It was a better movie, still not great. That Jacob the werewolf thing; didn’t care for it. The books though, that was different. I’ve never read “young adult” romance fiction, but by the end of Twilight, I was even more hooked. Can’t say what exactly I was hooked on, but it had me.

Two movies down and into book two – New Moon. Man, she loved Edward. Hole in the chest love. Emptiness and indescribable pain when separated.  But again, that whole Jacob thing.

Books three and four – Eclipse and Breaking Dawn were even better. They put meat on the bones of Bella and Edward’s love saga. While the movies focus too much on brooding angst, the books have a warm, almost light feel, despite that Jacob nuisance.

So, there I was, reading the final pages of Breaking Dawn. I was sitting on the couch next to my wife. She’d been amazingly supportive of my Twilight adventure. She’s happy any time I’m reading instead of watching TV. Then, I was done. The saga was over.

I was sad. It was a happy ending. It had to be. But I still didn’t know why I’d reacted the way I did. So I did something dudes don’t do -- I examined my emotions. Very strange. Uncomfortable even. After weeks and re-reading the books, I figured it out. It was obvious, right there, like she always is.

The reason I’d been so taken with this young adult romance was because I’d once been a young adult. I was older than 17 when I met my “Bella” but I knew right away. Within moments of meeting Diana, my life had changed. I’m far from “Edward the vampire” perfect. I don’t think before I open my mouth and I tick my Bella off more than I should, but I love her as much as the day I met her. Edward has nothing on me in the true love department.

While writing this, I walked over and kissed and told her I love her. I could tell her a hundred thousand times, write poems and songs and pay a skywriter to put it up in the clouds and that wouldn’t be enough to show her what she means to me. I can remember like yesterday the moment I first saw her. She smiled and boom, I was hooked. I asked her to marry me 10 minutes later. Luckily, she took me seriously when I asked her for real.

So yes, I admit it. The Twilight Saga helped me realize something I knew all along, something I don’t acknowledge nearly enough. I love my wife. I am blessed with love that, like Bella and Edward, I feel I don’t deserve. I’m lucky in ways I don’t understand.

For this moment of clarity, this tiny minute of joy among millions I get to spend with my true love, I say thank you Stephenie for writing your books and helping a middle-aged guy celebrate once in a lif

etime love discovered 20 years ago.

 And yes, I still don’t like Jacob. Put a shirt on kid.

 Christopher Metcalf is a husband, father, writer and marketing director for Benefit Informatics. He lives with his wife Diana and a bunch of kids in Jenks, Oklahoma. www.christophermetcalf.com





The Twilight Effect, or Thank You Stephenie


This is the original 1,000-word version of this essay published by TulsaPeople.com. 


Okay, statistics first. I’m 43, a husband, father, PR guy. Team Edward.


I’m up on a lot of things. Not everything my kids are of course, but I can hold my own in pop culture discussions. I knew of the Twilight Saga phenomenon. Stephanie Meyer wrote her first book and it took off like fire through dry underbrush. I knew the basics. A high school girl, Bella, falls in love with a vampire, Edward. Interesting premise. He’s a real gentleman. Very chivalrous, very conservative, no sex until marriage. She is self-deprecating to a fault. The original and ensuing books in the series sold like, well, like Twilight books.

For me, first came the movie. I had no plans to see the film. We got a free weekend of Showtime and Twilight was on. Wewatched it and boom, I was hooked. Now, I know good movies and this was no great film. But just like the film’s young star Kristen Stewart has that certain indefinable quality about her, the movie captured my attention. I couldn’t stop talking about the story. I talked about it with my wife, mother, co-workers and strangers. My 14-year-old voracious reader of a daughter found my reaction very amusing. She even avoided laughing at me, to my face at least.

So, we got the set of four books and I dove in. Was almost done with the first book when we rented New Moon the following weekend. It was a better movie – better cinematography, better effects. But still not a great film. And that whole Jacob thing, didn’t care for it. The books though, that was something different. I’ve never read anything remotely close to a “young adult” romance fiction and really had no expectations when I cracked the cover. By the end of Twilight, I was even more hooked on this thing. I couldn’t tell you what exactly I was hooked on, but it had me.

So two movies down and into book two – New Moon. I found the second book a little frustrating. Man, she really loved that Edward. Hole in the chest love. Emptiness and indescribable pain when separated.  But again, that whole Jacob thing.

Books three and four – Eclipse and Breaking Dawn were better than the previous two. They did a very nice job of putting meat on the bones of the Bella and Edward love saga. While the movies focus too much on the angst and brooding, the books have a warm, almost light feel to them at times. But still, Jacob remained a complete nuisance.

So, at last, there I was reading thefinal pages of Breaking Dawn after the penultimate scene that brings a climactic resolution to the saga (no spoilers here, read the books). I was sitting there on the couch next to my wife. She had been amazingly supportive of my little Twilight adventure. She’s happy any time I’m reading and not watching TV. Then, just like that, I was done. I closed the cover. The saga was over.

I was a little sad. It was a happy ending; of course it had to be. But I still didn’t know why I had reacted the way I did to the whole thing. So I did something dudes don’t often do -- I examined my emotions. Very strange. Uncomfortable even. It took me several weeks after finishing the books and re-reading them a second time to figure it out, but I finally did. It was obvious, right there all along. As a matter of fact she was sitting right there beside me like she always is.

The reason I had been so taken with these young adult romance books was because I had once been a young adult. I was older than 17 when I met my “Bella” but I knew when I found her that I would never be the same again. No matter what happened, within moments of meeting Diana, I would never look at life the same way again. I’m far from “Edward the vampire” perfect. I don’t always think before I open my mouth and I tick my Bella off a lot more than I should, but I love her just as much as I did the day I met her. Edward has nothing on me in the true love department.

While writing this, I got up and walked over and kissed her and told her I love. I could tell her a hundred thousand times. I could write poems and love songs and even pay a skywriter to put it up in the clouds and that wouldn’t be enough to let her know what she means to me. I can remember like it was yesterday the evening I met her. The moment I saw her for the first time just a few feet away from me dancing with someone else. She smiled at me and boom, I was hooked. I tell the story often, but its true -- I asked her to marry me less than 10 minutes later. Luckily, she took me seriously when I asked her for real.

So yes, I admit it. It took the Twilight Saga books for me to realize something I knew all along, something I know every day but don’t acknowledge nearly enough, not even close. I love my wife. I am blessed with a love that, like our two young lovers Bella and Edward, I feel I don’t deserve. I am lucky in ways I don’t even understand.

For this moment of clarity, this tiny minute of joy in the middle of millions I get to spend with my true love, I say thank you Stephanie for writing your books and helping a middle-aged guy celebrate that once in a lifetime love I discovered 20 years ago. And yes, I still don’t like that whole Jacob thing. Put a shirt on kid.

Christopher Metcalf is a husband, father, public relations professional and writer who lives with his wife Diana and a bunch of kids in Jenks, Oklahoma. www.christophermetcalf.com



More Twilight Effect – The Jacob Factor

I don’t like Jacob. I’m Team Edward all the way, but it goes deeper than simply choosing sides.

 

Many people have asked why I don’t like Jacob (see The Twilight Effect.) I didn’t really have an answer why I don’ like the shirtless teenage werewolf with six-pack abs. All I know is I didn’t like him from the start. He gets in the way.

 

And I think that’s it really. He gets in the way. Right after I finished the first essay and shared it with my wife Diana, she said something very thoughtful and provoking – “everyone has their Jacob.” I said “ah-hah.” Really, I raised my finger in the air and said “ah-hah.”

 

The Twilight Saga, with its four books and three (to be five total) movies, is a work of fiction. But like all good works of fiction, the story is provocative. It makes you think, makes you revisit it. I had to reread all four books to figure out why the Bella the girl and Edward the vampire, and yes, Jacob the werewolf, story hit me in the gut the way it did. Took me awhile, but I figured out the true love aspect.

 

The Jacob factor is something else. Yes, Jacob is a tragic figure. He helped Bella through a very difficult time when Edward left. He loves her. But he can never have her. Alas, she loves Edward. But Jacob is more than simply tragic. For me, he is a not so subtle reminder of youth, my youth. He is strong, handsome, positive and just brimming with potential. I was all those things once. In fact, I was most of those when I met Diana and fell in love at first sight.

 

But while Bella and Edward lived, or died, well, whatever vampires do ever after, Diana and I are not frozen as teenagers. We have grown and changed just a little bit over 20 years. I’m not as young, as strong and certainly not as positive as I was. So reading about Jacob was eye-opening in that I saw Bella’s options. I could see that she, like Diana and every woman for that matter, had viable options. Bella chose Edward. Luckily, Diana chose me. But unlike Bella, who is locked inside the covers of a book or DVD case, Diana can always change her mind. Someone younger, stronger, maybe even shirtless with six-pack abs, could be out there. I know she made her choice long ago, but am I living up to my end of the bargain? My abs say maybe, maybe not. They also unfortunately say yes too often to pizza, ice cream and cookies, darn cookies.

 

So for me, Jacob is a demon. And demon thy name is doubt. I know my wife loves me. I know I do some things right. But I screw up a lot. Lose my temper, use words I’m not supposed to in front of the kids and generally make a mess of a good number of things. Jacob is the fictitious reminder of these doubts. The fact that he’s a nice good-looking kid makes it even worse. But that’s me.

 

Who is Jacob for others? What is your Jacob? What does he symbolize in your life? I know you didn’t begin reading this short article to come away with a homework assignment. But remember, this is a work of fiction and if its any good it should be thought-provoking.

 

If you are Team Edward simply because Stephenie did a great job of crafting a beautiful, heroic and selfless character, that’s great. But if you’re like me and you’re willing to dig a little deeper into some fertile emotional ground then dig away. Consider this essay a shovel. What is your Jacob, or better, what gets in the way for you?

 

For me it’s self doubt. Self doubt keeps me from doing too many things. It limits and even rules a portion of my life. That’s sad; but again, that’s me. Maybe for you its addiction or debt or possibly something much more raw. Maybe your Jacob is really another person, an option to your current choice. I’m sure for some Jacob symbolizes regret for choices made or unfortunately, choices never made.

I didn’t mean to get all deep here. I didn’t know where I was going when I started typing. I simply know opportunity when it hits me in the face. Twilight is an opportunity to dive into fantasy and revel in the joy and wonder of true and endless love. It’s Romeo and Juliet with pale skin and blood as the main course. It is also a sometimes dark world of doubt and fear. And rain, lots of rain. But it is at its heart good fiction. And what did someone once say about good fiction (above, twice actually). Get thinking. I’d love to hear your ideas on the Jacob factor. I just can’t help it, I don’t like that kid.


 Alas, A Tree Tunnel No More

Progress. Moving forward. Growth. All important goals for our community. But with each come a variety of consequences. Some unintended.

One such consequence of growth in Jenks was our beloved "tree tunnel." If you live in or come to town often you know it, or now, remember it. Just west of the intersection at Main and Elwood, right there at the hill then valley in the road created by the levee. Thick-trunked, towering elms and cottonwood trees bordered the road on both sides and reached out their limbs to each other to provide a living roof over the road.

I had driven this route as a teenager and an adult, but it wasn't until I had children that I realized the magic at work in this short stretch of Main Street. It was through a child's wonder-filled eyes that I first saw it for what it was.

Our twins were tiny, not even two. We were driving through one day on the way to visit relatives. We went up the slight incline and then were on our way down into that tiny valley when they both screamed out "tree tunnel." They didn't have great control of their vocabulary yet and it sounded like "teetunno." My wife and eight-year old son all looked at each other and smiled. Then we all shouted together "Tree Tunnel."

It was the first of thousands of times we shouted those words as we passed under the canopy of green sheltering the road after we moved into a neighborhood just west of this magical spot. Our youngest daughter joined the “teetunno” chorus when she came along.

I knew it was coming. I learned last year that a four-lane bridge was to be built over Hager Creek. It is the first stage of widening Main Street from Hwy 75 to Elm Street. Progress.

And last month the reality of progress hit hard when the twins, now teenagers, called me at work to give me the news -- the tree tunnel was gone. They were both a little upset. Their younger sister even cried when she passed through on the school bus and saw only the stumps of the former magical trees. I have to admit, I choked up a little when I heard.

I could only shake my head when I drove home that evening. The tree tunnel was no more. I shook my head again and squinted the next morning driving back through heading east. Those familiar trees weren't there to provide their welcome shade. I realized what it was... A little piece of magic in the world had been lost. A special place that had captured my children’s imagination and brought joy to our family was gone. I think maybe I miss those magical babies in the back seat just as much.

Progress in this instance brought with it a little too much reality -- roads are built, nature is pushed out and children grow. Sometimes way too soon.

Chris Metcalf, Jenks