Friday night, kids and their parents all over the world lined up to get their hands on a book....a book...not the latest, greatest video game or toy....a 736 page book. CT and I made our way to the local bookstore where he's been on the waiting list since last December. It was a madhouse. Kids, teenagers, adults and one helper dog all crowded in the bookstore aisles. Silly costumes next to tattooed teens next to grandmothers. It was crazy. It was beautiful. As the hours slipped, I started to feel my own excitement grow. I haven't read any of Harry Potter books nor have I had any desire to. Yet here I was packed in between the biographies and the Bibles with 2 Harry Potters, a Dumbeldorf, a Malfoy and my own redhead about to come unglued as the minutes approached midnight. I felt a little camaraderie with these literary mavens all glued to their watches. At 11:00 the store calmed a bit and the noise level decreased to a quiet buzz. I quickly realized that this wasn't just about one book. This was mass imagination....all America caught up in one make-believe place and time far, far away. It was about getting us all to read again...to enjoy time with ourselves and our own thoughts and dreams. And it was working. As I looked around the patient and inpatient alike were each immersed in the pages ripped off the shelves around us. Kids reading about Abraham Lincoln...a dad smiling as he flipped Dr. Seuss....a teenager eagerly paging through a book about the Iraq war...and a little boy clutching a pop-up book as he slept under a table. It wasn't about ONE book. This single purpose had brought us all to the place with nothing to do, but read. It was inspiring. One fictional little boy managed to get us all to do what countless libraries couldn't....even if only for one night.
When the countdown to midnight began, the books landed back on their shelves and everyone counted aloud together...some shouting with way too much enthusiasm for the time of night. When the first book was finally sold, a cheer went up and we all settled into wait for our very own turn to pay our money and hold that book in our hands. Kids all around me begged their parents to stay up all night to read....how do you say "no" to that?
Hours continued to tick by and the crowd began to thin out. The cheers had stopped and now each person sleepily stepped to the register, paid and quietly left the store. Finally at 2:30 CT and were the next in line. I looked down at him as he anticipated this event he'd been waiting so long for. "I've been waiting since December, Mom, and now I get it," he said as he stepped up to the counter. He took the book out of the bag and hugged it tight to his chest. Then he stood up on a nearby chair and yelled as loud as he could, "I got it!" to the now meager crowd. Those of us who were left responded with a quiet cheer and CT beamed like he had received a standing ovation. He waved goodbye as we made our way out the door to our car.
So, bring on the overpriced book. Bring on the movies and the expensive memorabilia. Bring on the spoilers. Bring on the fanatics in their costumes. Bring on the mania and the hysteria, Harry Potter. I can stay up all night for days waiting in a hot stuffy bookstore. I can take the whining. I can take the waiting. I can take the sore feet and the overflowing restrooms. I can take it all....just as long as that kid keeps smiling like that.
Harry Potter, book, kids, bookstore, reading