Why I’m Just Wild About Harry
It was a no go, but because one’s general mood of the moment can easily sway perspective, I like to give books a second shot. A month later, I tried again.
The book was too something – juvenile, ridiculous, a bit cruel how the boy was forced to sleep in a cobwebbed cubby of a closet – that it prevented me from reading beyond the first chapter.
It wasn’t until three or four years later that I understood the infatuation with the boy who lived. I had injured myself in an accident that left me immobile for two weeks. I don’t know about you, but there’s only so many cooking shows or reruns I can watch before television starts to blend into a cluster of garbled crap. I hobbled around the house searching for a book and came up wanting. As I passed by my daughter’s room, I glimpsed the familiar cover of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The way I saw it, I could read the book or go back to watching Charlie’s Angels reruns. No contest. The Angels were killing my self esteem with their million dollar smiles and perky boobs.
I became lost in Potter world for two hours. This Hogwarts was good stuff. There were spells and potions, places called Diagon Alley and Gringotts. There was a sorting hat and a sport called Quidditch. What fascinated me was that J.K. Rowling had conjured an impressive and compelling tale about an 11-year-old boy doomed to die at the hands of the book’s antagonist, Voldemort, a.k.a. Tom Marvolo Riddle, a.k.a. the Dark Lord, a.k.a. You-Know-Who, a.k.a. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. There was so much to absorb, so many ways to interrupt and analyze the story.
Within two weeks, I finished all the Harry Potter books released to date. As Harry aged, so did the plot, with the storyline taking on a more grown up magic. I wanted to MapQuest Hogwarts and hang out with the Weasleys. I wanted to see a Norwegian Ridgeback dragon. I wanted to visit the Ministry of Magic. I wouldn’t even mind seeing He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named from a distance.
Most of all, I wanted my own wand. As a busy woman, how awesome would it be to own a piece of wood that, when you point and shoot it, you receive immediate gratification? Lost something? Forget the St. Anthony prayer; grab the wand and say, “Accio”. Sick of broken or chipped plates? “Raparo” will fix them, free of charge. Clean my toilets? No problemo. Ready, aim, “Scourgify!” Pissed off at a coworker? Get ’em in the parking lot with “Stupefy”. That’ll make ’em think twice.
Harry Potter discussions became the norm with my daughter, Jocelyn, and her best friend, Erika, a.k.a. E. We attended the Barnes and Noble midnight releases of books 5 and 6, standing in line for hours so that we could deep dive into Harry’s next venture. Pretty soon, Chris (E.’s mom) jumped on board and began reading the series.
Chris and I started a tradition, taking our combined six kids to all Harry Potter movies to date. In short, we became fanatics. The girls have read the series countless time. I’ve read book 5 three times and the last two books four or five times. I couldn’t even begin to count the amount of times we’ve watched the movies. Over the years, we’ve had hours of discussion on spells and potions, psychoanalyzed Snape, and recited lines verbatim. I’ve taken multiple online sorting hat quizzes. I thought I was a Ravenclaw, but I’m a Hufflepuff/Slytherin. Go figure.
We attended the Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science for my birthday, where we purchased “Muggle” shirts. I also got a wand. This summer, E. went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal. We were all jealous. My daughter is going this spring.
Our movie tradition lasted until this summer, with the release of Deathly Hallows, which I ordered temporary Death Eater tattoos for. The anticipation building up to the two-part ending caused a flurry of conversation and admitted regret that this was the end of an era.
Author Howard Pyle said, “The stories of childhood leave an indelible impression, and their author always has a niche in the temple of memory from which the image is never cast out to be thrown on the rubbish heap of things that are outgrown and outlived.”
Over the course of ten years, Harry and company have given me and my daughter and to some extent, my two sons, an avenue of communication that wouldn’t otherwise exist. Chris, E., Jocelyn and I have a common bond that can’t be broken, that we’ll cherish forever, and that we’ll never tire of. An eternal comfort zone. Who would have thought such a favorable link would be created from a children’s book about a boy with a lightning bolt on his forehead? Not me. But it’s exactly why I’m wild about Harry.