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Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Harry and Me

Harry Potter and I had a summer fling about three years ago, back when he was just that cute kid with the glasses, a bit afraid of girls, a whiz on a broomstick. I was feeling pretty young at the time, a bit vulnerable, and found his British accent and whiz-bang adventures to be utterly irresistable -- our relationship wasn't anything earth-shattering or life-changing, but it was sweet and simple and exactly what I was looking for at the time.

He seemed a lot more innocent back then.

I never really ended things with Harry, but things are certainly strained between us, especially since Harry started spending a lot more time with Chris Columbus (who, if you ask me, was never a good influence on him). But it's summer again, and I decided about a month ago: Hey, why not give Harry another shot?.

So I preordered Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix from Amazon and moved on with the rest of my life, waiting for its release with the patience that comes with not caring too much. I know fandom, I've dwelt in fandom before. So I knew that June 21st was a very big deal indeed for a great many people.

I just didn't realize how big a deal it was.

On Saturday, I had work, and then afterwards I drove to the Valley to visit a comic book store I'd heard was having a sale -- and they were, and it was good. Picked up a stack of trades that I'd been meaning to try, and then brought them up to the counter to pay the piper. He ran my debit card, he complimented my taste, and then the machine beeped. He sighed. "I need to run your card again."

"Was it rejected?" I asked.

"No, the system just crashed. It's been doing that all day."


He gave me one of those looks. "Because everyone's buying Harry Potter."

About a week ago, I had realized that I was going to have to stay offline when the book came out, because nearly every website in the world was thrumming with anticipation, and I wanted to read the book without too much prior knowledge. This wasn't too hard, as I had work and a number of other things to do -- many ways of killing time until the 25th, which was when, Amazon told me, my copy of the book would arrive.

So I got home from the comic book store and checked the mail. Wherein I found a Delivery Failed card from the post office. The sender?

This alone? Strange. Even stranger? The card was marked: signature required.

Signature required.

For a BOOK.

Because I wasn't going to be home during the middle of the week, I dropped by the post office on Monday to pick up my package. After fifteen minutes in line, I made it up to the front, handed over my card, and tried to look adult.

The woman looked at me. "Is this for Harry Potter?" she asked.

"Uh. Yeah."

"Driver's licence?"

I showed her my ID. It hasn't been scrutinized that thoroughly since the last time I went barhopping in a baggy sweatshirt.

Finally, she smirked at me, and went to the back to retrieve the package. I took the time to look over my friendly neighborhood post office, noticing for the first time the large poster mounted on the wall:

Harry Potter -- shipping June 21st!

The woman came out with the specially made Amazon shipping box, emblazoned with "More Magic! Darker Secrets!" and dire threats aimed at those who dared deliver said box before June 21st. It was about the size of two large bricks.

"How much did you pay?" the woman asked me.

"About 17," I mumbled.

"My daughter got it for 15 at Costco."

"Guess I shoulda waited," I said sheepishly.


They're selling it at Costco. They're selling it at drugstores. They're advertising it at the post office.

Harry's changed a lot, I guess.

Tonight, I'm going to let the items on my to do list fester a bit longer, make myself a cup of tea, open up the box. Shut out the outside world, and try to remember the good old days. Just a summer fling, three years ago.

Just a book.

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