I am Robert Pattinson’s beating heart and I am speaking to you from my home within his thoracic cage. We are at rest now. I beat 70 bpm, which is fairly typical for a 26-year-old white male who, like Robert, is in good but not superhuman shape. Rob, I should mention, has been going through, what he calls, “a thing.” “I’m on an all-liquid diet,” he explains to an interlocutor in the non-plummy London accent that surprises so many people who haven’t realized that Robert Pattinson isn’t actually a vampire named Edward Cullen. "“I had to be shirtless for a photo shoot,” Rob explaints, “so I asked a nutritionist what’s a diet in which you can still drink as much as you want. She said a liquid diet.” Further proof that Rob isn’t a vampire. Vampires, in general, shy away from photo shoots since their sparkle, exacerbated by the camera flash, confounds even the most skilled photographer. Also vampires rarely have body image issues and they never drink. (Their blood doesn’t circulate.)
Not uncommonly, Rob and I are alone and what few other people there are in this room–a very hot club hidden behind a Papaya King in West Hollywood which is, being a hot sunny afternoon, very quiet–are all paying attention to us. Rob is, after all, the world’s biggest heartthrob, and I am the heart that beats within. I can sense other hearts speed up when they approach us, like the heart of the hot dog jockey from out front who asks, as he delivers the mango juices and kraut dogs in their jaunty paper sleighs, for Rob to sign a strip of waxy receipt paper. “My girlfriend loves you,” he says, almost apologetically. I don’t speed up as Rob scrawls his name and hers (it’s Mallory) and hands it back like a bill of lading for a cargo ship full of unlikely sexual fantasies. Rob is dressed, as usual, according to that unwritten Hollywood code by which the higher one is paid the less attention one pays to his or her external aspect. And though we’re worth 62 million dollars, in Rob’s case, I can tell you, the nonchalance is genuine. This baseball cap, those black running sneakers, the denim shirt, the sort of young Ron Howard thing going on; these are our garments. This gangly lope, a tad idle with the same slack jaunt rhythm as James Dean in Giant; this is our gait.
We arrived here in a white SUV chauffeured by a guy named Jeff. He’s from Phoenix and he’s our driver. He showed up a few years ago wearing a boxy suit and a thick tie.“Classic temp look,” says Rob. Now he wears tight black t-shirts. From inside the tinted windows of the SUV on the way to the club, Rob scanned the stores that line Hollywood Boulevard. They read like a game of scummy Duck Duck Goose: Souvenir shop. Souvenir shop. Souvenir shop. Strip club. The latter boasts, “1000s of Attractive Girls. 3 Ugly ones.” I wonder what it must be like to be the heart of one of the ugly ones. I’ll never know. I’m one of the lucky ones. In the windows of more than one souvenir shop, Rob sees himself on calendars, on posters, on keychains manufactured in some Chinese industrial hinterland by a laborer who stares at Rob’s face and his large blue eyes and his lupine teeth peeking from behind his pouting lips and yet he has no sense of me, Rob’s beating heart. And I have no sense of the worker or his heart either. Passing the cheap junk with Rob’s face on it doesn’t make me beat faster, wither. The thought of what keys people attach to Rob’s trinketed face, what chambers they open and what secrets are kept therein, does accelerate me slightly, since we rarely meet anyone outside of the “industry” these days, and even if we did, it would never be me and only rarely be Rob they see. It would be Edward Cullen, that heartless vampire who has lorded over me since 2008 and won’t released his grasp until this November, at which point he can’t die because he’s already dead, but we can because we were made in his image, or he in ours. Either way, we’re so entwined that the separation could kill Rob and break me.
Rob and I spend a lot of time sitting in the back of cars these days, shuttling from press junket to interview to set to press junket. So much sitting makes me slightly nervous. A sedentary lifestyle is a leading cause in cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. So is smoking which, happily, Rob just quit. Now he carried these silly glowing electronic cigarettes and sits in the backs of cars sucking them, watching this face, still in the reflection and gliding by outside, as he is driven around. Rob does, of course, know how to drive. He took a ten-hour course in Oregon for, I think Breaking Dawn. I could be wrong; they all blur together. He’s a terrible driver. “I learned by people crashing into me,” he explains. Funny story, this is how he tells it: “The first time anyone said anything about my being famous was when I tried to buy a car a few years ago. It was an ’89 BMW convertible for $1,000 I found on Craigslist. I went out to the hills to take it on a test drive and, of course, almost crashed. A few days later I went back to pick it up. I had said I was an actor and the guy had looked me up. When I went back, he said,’Dude, do you realize you’re #2 on IMDB?’ I thought, ‘Shit, now I can’t ask for the 200 bucks off.’”