Donna Shockley watched "Twilight" 108 times. Lori Wright watched it 99 times and later installed a 10-by-20-foot outdoor screen in her back yard so she could host monthly DVD parties.
It's amazing what impact a little vampire novel-turned-big-screen-flick can have.
"I would never have guessed how my life would change after being exposed to Edward and 'Twilight' on that very first viewing," Shockley said.
Initially, the middle-age woman thought the movie was typical teenage fare and went to see it only after coaxing from her daughter.
"But, from the moment that Edward told Bella ... he was no longer able to stay away from her, I was no longer able to stay away from 'Twilight.'"
Although "Twilight" draws folks in with romance, the innocence of star-crossed lovers and an imminent sense of danger, it's much more than that for these women. They have gained a new perspective when dealing with the worries of the world.
"The biggest impact it's had on me is making me feel young again," Shockley said. "I've learned to relax and have fun like I did in my 20s. I'm no longer caught up in the rat race and under that stress cloud that tends to happen when you get older.
Wright's experience was much the same.
The "All Things Twilight" expo is among the highlights at the Food and New Product Show this weekend. In addition to "Twilight" memorabilia, attendees can meet an Edward Cullen look-alike, while Borders and Hot Topic will show off their newest "Twilight/New Moon" products.
For the arts-and-crafts lover, a "Made in Hawaii" section features art, jewelry, woodwork and clothing from local artists. Another highlight is the "Taste of the Pacific," which includes more than 50 food vendors including Mom's Soul Food, Thelma's Filipino Food, Harbor Court Bistro and the Cottage Fudge.
After seeing the movie, both women ventured into Hot Topic and began buying an array of "Twilight" merchandise.
"This was the beginning of a feeding frenzy that still hasn't subsided," Shockley quipped. The women's collections include jewelry, clothing, books, figurines, blankets and pillows, posters, umbrellas, baseball card sets, purses, photographs and handmade cards. And to top it all off, Shockley is now known around town as the "Twilight Lady," thanks to an exquisitely detailed car.
Wright and Shockley originally met at Mililani High School, where Wright was planning a midnight showing of "Twilight" for a Project Graduation fundraiser.
"We learned about each other's addictions and began going to the movie regularly," Wright said.
"Our friendship grew huge, as no one else truly understood our addiction and need," added Shockley.
She described her friend as the "information highway," since Wright could always be found in front of a computer, keeping up with the latest "Twilight" news. Shockley, who travels a lot for work, labeled herself the "supplier" who finds all the merchandise for their collections.
"eBay loves us," she said.
After extensive trips to theaters, the big-screen buddies met other avid fans.
"We made quite a few friends, young and old," Shockley said. "The eldest regular was an 83-year-old woman.
"Many of us got together to watch the movie and vent our 'Twilight' obsessions."
Wright added that "the phenomenon keeps growing, enticing more people every day from all over the world," and that "Twi-hards (die-hard fans of 'Twilight') know no boundaries, ages, cultures, races or genders." It was that local fan base, comprising fans from ages 5 to 83 years old, that led her to establish a local fan club.
For Shockley it's created a broader friendship base.
"It's been a really positive experience for me," she said. "It's opened a whole new world since I started dressing in 'Twilight' clothes and driving around in my car.
"People are always stopping me and taking pictures. I've made a lot of friends and feel well loved right now."
Wright's fascination began innocently enough. After purchasing the Stephanie Meyers books for her daughter, she read them herself.
"(That's when) my addiction began," she said. "My love for life and the existence that Stephanie Meyers created was now to become a part of my daily routine."
Wright's entire family has caught the "Twilight" bug, too.
"We designed a 'Twilight' bedroom for my daughter, and when the DVD was going to be released, my husband and son built an outdoor screen to give us another chance to see the movie on the big screen," Wright said.
Memorabilia decorate their entire house and has even begun to creep onto the lanai. Of them all, Wright's most prized possession is a handmade jewelry box with a picture of Edward playing piano.
"In the movie, Edward didn't play for a long time because his life didn't have meaning," she said. "But when he met Bella, he started playing again."
Despite having read the books and seen the movies multiple times, Shockley and Wright continue to search for the deeper messages they have to offer.
"Stephanie Meyers has inspired many to better themselves ... not only to reach beyond the exterior of a person, but to ... accept them as they really are and see how we are all the same through our experiences with 'Twilight,'" Wright said.
"This saga has changed my life forever. ... My husband and I feel like teenagers again," Shockley said. "As the movie states, nothing will be the same ... and for me it never will be.
"I've been bitten. Bad."