Iâ€™d like to issue a formal apology to every Harry Potter fan. Iâ€™m sorry I thought a â€œDraco Malfoyâ€ was a skin growth, and the only wizard I want to be is one whoâ€™s sweet at pinball. More importantly, Iâ€™m sorry that I took a well-deserving personâ€™s seat on opening night of the newest film, â€œHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.â€
Iâ€™ve never read any of the books. No, I take that back â€“â€“ in the sixth grade our teacher read to us from the first one â€“â€“ â€œHarry Potter and the Sorcererâ€™s Stone.â€ Iâ€™ve never watched any of the other movies, and this got me thinking: Why not? Why didnâ€™t I ever bother reading any of them? I wanted to try.
But alas, I was running out of time. Only three days prior to the opening did my co-columnist Nic Turiciano and I decide that we were really going to go to the midnight showing. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Nic really was a fan. Heâ€™s read the books, and heâ€™s been to a couple of the other movie premieres dressed in costume.
He suggested that I read up, fast.
And so I did. I read the footnotes for all of the books online. None of the movies were available to me, so that was out of the question. I even called up my friend Elliot Pence in Chicago, who gave me a 12-minute synopsis as best he could. But as much as I tried, I couldnâ€™t understand it. How did people of all ages and backgrounds find a common ground within the realm of Harry Potter?
â€œWe were the same age as the characters when the books were coming out,â€ Elliot explained to me. â€œItâ€™s like an awkward bonding.â€
Still very uninformed, I was sort of excited. However, on the big opening day, I caught little snippets of other peopleâ€™s conversations all day long.
â€œIâ€™m so bummed, tickets for the new Harry Potter are all sold out.â€
â€œI know! I wanted to go so badly, I just re-read the books.â€
I was a bad person.
Around 10 that night I showed up at Nicâ€™s house. Upon answering, I noticed that his face was covered with black Magic Marker that heâ€™d fiercely scribbled from the nose-down. He was Hagrid â€“â€“ the giant who befriends Harry.
â€œI need help. I have no Potter gear,â€ I said. â€œAnd that marker beard makes it look like you have no chin.â€Â
Nic pulled something together for me. And so I showed up to the premiere of Harry Potter wearing a blazer, a brown scarf and a newsboyâ€™s cap. No glasses. I did have a lightning bolt on my forehead, so thatâ€™s something, I guess.
The Carmike Cinema had opened every theater for Harry Potter only. One thousand seats were sold, and there was a line that winded around the perimeter of the building as we pulled up.
â€œItâ€™s not so bad, Iâ€™ve been able to see all of the movies,â€ Carmike employee Tim Armfield said. â€œSometimes though, people get out of hand.â€
Armfield told me about a group of high school kids who drove around the theater, making fun of the people in line. They had to call the cops. But this wasnâ€™t as brutal as the night of the Transformers film opening, when an ambulance had to be called because a fight broke out.Â
Luckily there were no riots this evening, and it didnâ€™t take too long to get into the theater. We sat in the third row, arching our backs to look up at the film. People cheered as it began, and I have to admit, post-pubescent Daniel Radcliffe was looking pretty good.
It doesnâ€™t really matter that we left before the movie was over (I worked three hours later), or that Iâ€™m not entirely sure if I will ever sit down to read a JK Rowling book in its entirety. Something happened, though.
It happened while standing in line with people who had learned to read with the help of Harry Potter. It happened after seeing couples dressed in matching wizard robes and groups of friends talking about Quiddich the way people talk about the NBA. Their loyalty began to make sense.Â
Harry Potter grew up with these people, be it through age, or a literary phase or a time in their lives when they simply needed an escape from the real world. I remembered something that Elliot told me about how the themes become more mature as the book series develops. Â Reading as a means of escape is a timeless thing.
And that is something I can respect.
Columnists Kate Bennis and Nic Turiciano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.