Thursday, November 11, 2010

How I Ended Up Reading Harry Potter

Unless you are a Muggle of Dursley-esque proportions, you have probably noticed that the film "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (pt 1)" is due to arrive in theaters any minute now. In honor of that event, I figured I would explain some of my long and storied history with Harry Potter, and how I ended up reading the books out of love for my fiance Chelsea, the co-owner of this blog.

Let us flashback to Fall of 2000. I am 18 years old. It is first semester of my freshman year at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. I am sitting in my Dramaturgy (which sounds like the name of some theater based sorcery but is actually about interpretation of plays) course. A small young woman walks up to me, and introduces herself as- I kid you not- Scooter. Scooter promptly proceeds to say "Has anyone ever told you you look like Harry Potter?" I groan, put my face in my hands, and reply "Yes. Constantly."

You see, when I was 18, I wore glasses, had a thick mop of brown hair, had a rather boyish looking face, and had a lightning bolt shaped scar on my forehead that I got from running into a wall when I was four. I did look like Harry Potter. 10 years, +40 lbs, and a beard later, I still kind of do (that scar never went away).

I looked so much like Harry Potter that I ended up getting stalked. A slightly older student, the name of whom escapes me at the moment, with red hair and a predilection towards dressing like a Renaissance era barmaid ended up following me around on campus. I was clued in when she instant messaged me one night, told me she'd been following me around, and then explained that we should be together because clearly, my resemblance to Harry Potter meant I was the one for her. I turned her down and asked her to stop stalking me, which she did.

All of this attention made me feel...kind of crummy really. I was 18, and ready to be treated like an adult, and I had many, many people telling me I looked like a fictional 12-year-old. So, in order to distance myself from Harry Potter, I ignored the books like the plague.

Flash forward two years to Fall of 2002. Chelsea and I start dating. Chelsea LOVES Harry Potter. When the topic of Harry Potter is broached we had... I won't call them arguments, but I will say I reacted negatively. I mean, I had decided without having ever read the books that they were terrible, and I attacked them with the sort of fervor that only someone who hates something without any real knowledge of it can.

So, after a few months of dating Chelsea, we segued from "infatuation" to "falling in love." In the Spring of '03, I made a momentous decision to show her just how much I loved her. I decided to read all of the Harry Potter books.

I made this decision one week before the release of the series' fifth book "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

I read "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" on Saturday. Then I read "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" on Sunday. Monday and Tuesday were spent plowing through "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" is one of the longest books in the series. It took me three whole days to read that one. On the next Saturday, I went to Jabberwocky Books in Newburyport, MA (my hometown) and bought "Order of the Phoenix." I started reading it Saturday night and finished it on Sunday morning. When I finished it, I called Chelsea.

I asked her how the book was. She said she only had a few chapters left to read. Then I started dropping references to things that had happened throughout the series. Normally I'd be more specific, but I don't want to ruin anything for anyone who may not have read the series. She figured it out. I had read the books, and I finished book 5 before she did, because I loved her and I wanted to show her that by overcoming my own misgivings about something that was important to her.

And you know what? Chelsea or no, I loved the series. I do love the series. The whole thing.

In our home that we share, we own three copies of each book, and have a special shelf with our prettiest hardcovers, and a golden snitch. When the final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" was released, we both went to Borders and each purchased a copy at midnight. Harry Potter, like Lord of the Rings, Steampunk, Battlestar Galactica, and a few other things, has become something nerdy that we share. It brought us closer together and made our relationship stronger.

Some day, together, I know we'll read Harry Potter to our children who will- more than likely- look a little like Harry Potter themselves.

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