'New Moon': How to fake your way through talking about 'Twilight'

kristenstewart_robertpattinson_newmoon_290.jpgWhen even NPR is covering the release of "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," you know it's pervaded the culture.

But what of those of us -- a rapidly dwindling number, to be sure -- who are still "Twilight" virgins? Are we just going to be left out of every conversation about the fall's biggest movie, and then again in the seven months leading up to the release of "Eclipse" in June?

Well, no. You could rent the first film and go see "New Moon," of course, and I'm told the novels, despite their rather impressive heft, are a quick read. But you could also, you know, save the money and time and fake it. Here's everything you need to know to get through the water-cooler/carpool/coffeehouse chatter in the next couple of weeks. (Special thanks to my "Twilight"-reading co-workers and the hilarious blog Cleoland for the knowledge.)

First and foremost: Keep a straight face. If you're no longer in the books' target audience ( Twilight Moms notwithstanding), you've probably forgotten or would like to forget how deeply you felt about whatever obsession you had when you were. Twihards are a committed and earnest lot, so rolling your eyes at any mention of Edward's sparkliness, Bella's longing or Jacob's (or, more accurately, Taylor Lautner's) abs is not a good strategy.

Gauge your audience. Are they Team Edward or Team Jacob? If it's the former, talk about how dreamy it is that Edward is always watching over Bella, even if that means sneaking into her room to watch her sleep (remember: This is super-romantic, not super-creepy). If it's the latter, note how much more interesting Bella seems when she's around Jacob. If you find yourself in the middle of an argument, try to walk the line with this phrase: "Bella loves Jacob, but she's not in love with him."

Use classic literature as a reference point. Ever read "Wuthering Heights"? Substitute "Edward and Bella" for "Heathcliff and Catherine" and you'll be on pretty safe ground.

sarahmichellegellar_buffy_290.jpg Don't go down the "Buffy" road. At least, not unless you're prepared for a looong argument about the respective merits of the two biggest teenager/vampire touchstones of the last decade or so. You'll only end up talking past each other as one of you argue about the hip, funny, feminist take on the vampire tale in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" vs. the chaste, traditional and oh-so-romantic arc of "Twilight." And really don't bring up "Buffy vs. Edward."

Drop in phrases like, "But what was up with 'Breaking Dawn'?" The final book in the series, which (spoiler alert) features Bella and Edward getting married and her giving birth to his rapidly gestating, half-vampire baby, was not well-received in a significant portion of Twilight Nation. Nod in sympathy when the "Breaking Dawn" haters describe their efforts to mount a local book-return campaign.

And, really, I can't emphasize the straight-face point enough.
Keep telling yourself, "Sparkly is cool. Sparkly is cool."

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