Monday, July 18, 2011

Regarding Harry

Much has been written and said over the past several days about Harry, Ron and Hermione, and about the chaos (both fictional and non-fictional) that has surrounded them since the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in June of 1997.  I was 22 years old then--double the age of the lucky individuals who first receive their letters from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  Double the age also of those who have grown up with the books and films as a tried and perennial part of their childhoods. 

Fortunately for we, the old coffin dodgers, very early on it became obvious that Hogwarts wasn't just a place for children.  Anyone who attended book or movie midnight release parties (remember when standing in line for a book at midnight was not even a thing?) could see that Harry drew a motley crowd.  I'm reminded of Michael Scott's description of his college parties, "Jocks, nerds, loose chicks, professors..."  Harry struck a chord with all types, and none of us were shy about letting our freak flags fly.

Shaun Cassidy was a Bieber-esque pop singer from before my time, but I vividly remember the poster of him on one of my older sister's bedroom walls.  He was on Oprah last fall, and talked about the frenzy that followed him around in the late 70s and early 80s.  He said something that made me think of all of the Harry hoopla.  "It's a communion. I had my experience, and you all had yours. For a lot of the women and men here who had that experience, it's a bonding one with them. I think it's almost more about them than it is about whoever's in the middle of it."

I think he's right.  In the end it isn't about J.K. Rowling, the cast of the films, or even Harry himself. It's about us. The thirty-somethings in ill-fitting school uniforms rolling drinking straws in glue and glitter to make wands. The sixty year old woman knitting a hideous Pepto Bismol-colored cardigan, so she can be the kickassing-est Umbridge on the block. The big family who, from dad all the way down to toddler, die their hair red and wear monogramed sweaters in 90 degree weather.

It's not just about the dresser-uppers, though. I remember a great twenty minute conversation with a stranger, sparked by the copy of Order of the Phoenix sticking out of my bag. We were standing in the bathroom at a Cracker Barrel. Fandom knows no bounds, and if that isn't proof, I don't know what is.

It's all so crazy, isn't it? And it all started with one woman...sitting on a train...who got an idea.

Here's to her. Here's to him.

And here's to us.

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