July 16th, 2005

Natalie smile

I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up to Some Good

A little after eleven, I headed to Borders to crash the Harry Potter release party and beat up someone and steal a copy. Or look at hot women and admire costumes.

I walked in, and the place was rather packed. People everywhere. There was a line for people to pick up a ticket for their reservation or make a new reservation. No one in an obvious costume yet.

I wandered around for a couple minutes until I noticed a little boy sitting down dressed as Harry. He even had a little wand. Of course he had the scar; the scar was a pretty common decoration, although the placement was rather variable. I told him he was the first, just as a witch walked past us. As I stood there, he said to his father, "You know what's going to be so good? Curling up with the new book." It was the cutest thing ever.

After every sentence in this entry, just assume I notice an attractive girl. It will cut down the number of words.

The sign at the entrance had advertised activities, but it seemed the activities had fizzled out as midnight drew near. As I saw upstairs, they were pretty kiddie-oriented anyway, involving crayons and coloring and the like.

More people in interesting attire now. Hogwarts shirts, both official and homemade. An "I *heart* Draco Malfoy" shirt. A white shirt with writing in permanent marker. "I'd rather be playing Quidditch." A rather hot woman in a black shirt with a cursive white "I solemnly swear I am up to no good" on the front and "Mischief managed" on the back. A cloak here, a witch's hat there. Harry Potter glasses here, a Hogwarts uniform there. I smiled at each new one I saw because I appreciated the love, the passion that drives people to dress up. I recognized one girl, but I couldn't remember her name or how I knew her. Her name turned out to be Rachel.

I totally saw an Indian guy with a white girlfriend. I should tell my mom on him. I also saw a white guy with a white girlfriend, which is a more common sight. She was trying to explain why she loved the books. "They're just good stories," she kept repeating. He said he tried to read the first book, but after the first three chapters, he gave up. He didn't understand what was so good about them. "They're just good stories," she said. He said no one would ever give him a real answer. "They're good stories," she said, "I like the good storytelling"--and she said the magic word and thus the urge to make out was rising.

In another area of the store, I came across five girls all dressed up. A couple in Hogwarts uniforms, one with a homemade "Weird Sisters" shirt, and a couple witches, I think. "You guys definitely win," I said. "For costumes, I've been looking at people's costumes, but I haven't seen...this. Good coordination."

Girl #4 thanked me and said, "We don't get anything, for our costumes."

"You get my respect," I said with my hand on my heart. "Which is...pretty valuable currency these days."

Since there was still time before midnight, I checked out the Shaman Drum shindig, which was...a little more low-key. There was a little jazz band and some refreshments. I had some Oreos and Ohana Lemonade (Ohana means family, and lemonade means high fructose corn syrup with lemon flavoring).

Back at Borders, I marvelled at the phenomenon around me. Here were hundreds of people of all ages, excited as all get-out. All joined together by a common bond. Not for a movie, not for a sports event, not for a celebrity sighting. But for a book. For words on a page that tell a story.

Midnight drew closer, and I explained to strangers how the different lines worked, because I like talking to random people when it works out okay. The first fifty people were lined up to buy the book. Thirty minutes. Fifteen minutes. Six short minutes, though I did not think those minutes would be any shorter than sixty seconds each. One minute.

And then the entire store counted down from ten. Nine. Eight. I joined in, seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Cheers abounded. It was at this point that I realized I needed to go back in time and PhonePost, because that's just the sort of thing you want to preserve in mp3 format.

The very first book was brought out all special to be sold, and they were off. I stayed for a few more minutes to get a glimpse of the actual book before I left. I collect in paperback; I would borrow the book from someone else as soon as I could.

We've only got one more of these. A couple years from now, your local bookstores will be organizing one last gathering. And regardless of your opinion of the books, whether you think they're crap, whether you think they're okay but overrated, whether you don't understand them, I urge you to go. Absorb the atmosphere. Feel the excitement. Witness the kind of happiness a great story can engender in people.

Because sometimes, you just need to smile.