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The Days and Nights of Harry Potter, Part 1 (No Spoilers Included)

By admin Published: July 20, 2007

In a little over 12 hours, people will start ripping through their new copies of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." My route to that moment began this morning ...

Before I even got to the bookstore line, I was already getting the Potter vibe. Watching a DVD of "Weeds" this AM, and chuckling when a girl explains to her father that her mother is, in just about every way, Voldemort. Then, on the way to the store, I turn on talk radio and catch a snippet of a debate about an expected plot point in "Deathly Hallows." Off goes the radio. As I said in a post yesterday, I am in the cone of silence on this one.

Anyway, I arrive at the Borders where I have pre-ordered the book a little after 9 a.m. I am there for the middle phase of Getting Potter. I have already ordered the book; now I need to get a number determining where I will be in line tonight when the books are handed out. (The final phase, of course, is actually getting the book.)

When I checked with the store yesterday, I was told that the numbers will be handed out randomly to people in line beginning at 9:30 a.m. When I arrive, the line is outside the store, down the front of it to the street, then down the street's sidewalk a ways. And the line must have been significantly longer at some point, since people are already coming out of the store with their paperwork.

I settle into my spot in line, prepared for a long wait; I also call the Beacon Journal and suggest a photographer come by.

The line creeps along. (I'll end up spending a little over an hour before I get my wristband.) Mostly adults, some with children. Although it's a tad chilly and there are dark clouds overhead, we don't get rained on, and things are generally mellow.

When the photographer shows up, a young woman in line ahead of me laments. She's not even in line for herself -- she's picking up a wristband for her sister -- but she has called off work to be there.

Another woman is there for her daughter, and offers evidence that reading Harry Potter leads to other reading; having started with a love of Potter, the daughter now reads writers from Jane Austen to Stephen King, and has a steady set of reserves at their library; her favorite book is "Pride and Prejudice."

Finally we are off the sidewalk and in the store. Around the time we're at the entrance, a girl is leaving in her full HP regalia, right down to a Gryffindor badge on her cloak. After waiting a few more minutes, and hearing one of the store's people gripe about our line interfering with the people "buying something this morning," I am ready for my stuff.

I give my name, which is marked off in a book-thick printout of preorders. I get a color-coded wristband and a number for my color group. Each color group includes 150 people, I'm told. The distribution doesn't look all that random, but it could be worse; as near as I can figure, I'm about 163rd in line. A woman behind me gave up on her midnight line for the last Potter book; her number was in the 500s, and sometime after 2 a.m., she still hadn't gotten her book.

But I'm that much closer to what I want most: reading.

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