A muggle’s lamentWritten by Karl Rundgren | | email@example.com
I was going to write a big, super-serious column this week. I really was. Then I learned that my picture was going to be “Simpsonized” and I had second thoughts. So, since I haven’t seen “The Simpsons Movie,” I’m going to do what every other hard-hitting journalist around the country has done.
I’m going to write about Harry Potter.
Has so much ink ever been devoted to a fictitious character? Probably, and it’s bound to happen again. We love our pop culture icons with an almost religious zeal, and we love to talk about them even more. I’ll fully admit that I was a “Star Wars” brat, chasing phantom Stormtroopers with pretend blasters. I got into fights on the playground because all the boys wanted to play Han Solo, and I kept getting stuck as whiny Luke Skywalker because I was the blond kid. Later I developed an unhealthy fixation with Boba Fett, but that’s all behind me now.
I grew up.
But I can appreciate the frenzy that surrounds the release of a Harry Potter book, and the dedication of the die-hard fans. All around the world kids and adults were going to Harry Potter parties last week, anxiously waiting for 12:01 a.m. so they could slap down their money and grab the book. Still, much like standing in line waiting for seats at the old Toledo Sports Arena, getting the book wasn’t the most important thing. It was really spending several hours with other fans, swapping theories and letting the excitement build to a crescendo.
Bookstores were more than happy to fan the flames. They set up elaborate displays featuring Hogwarts, and slowly they were surrounded by children wearing wizards’ robes and carrying wands. All over you could see Harry Potter’s trademark circular glasses. The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library downtown expected 1,000 people to show up, and they teamed up with COSI to put on a memorable show. There were real magicians showing their skills and the mixing of potions. There were also hundreds of copies of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
Now, this might all sound a little crazy to someone who hasn’t read the books. Why would someone stand in line for hours, surround themselves with these people, all to get their hands on a book?
Let me tell you why … how I got the new Harry Potter book. See which story you think is better.
After finishing the 10 p.m. news on Friday night, I went with some of my co-workers over to Fricker’s in Downtown Toledo. Several blocks away, the library was a bastion of Pottermania, but it seemed like a routine night at the bar and grill. I hung out for about an hour, when I got a call from my wife.
“I want Frosted Flakes,” she said. “Could you stop by the store and pick some up?”
After making the requisite pregnancy jokes — she’s not — I found myself stopping at Kroger’s at about 1 a.m. By this point most of the bookstores were shutting things down, having sold books to everyone that wanted them. The parties and the excitement were dying down, as people sought quiet corners to consume the book.
After swatting some mayflies off my jacket, I noticed that the grocery store — the grocery store — had put on a Potter Party of its own. There was a tent erected near the door, some cakes on a table, and several white boxes tossed around as though a rabid badger had assaulted the place.
I grabbed the Frosted Flakes, moved along by the Muzak, and headed to the check-out. After making a lame joke about the abused Potter display, I asked how long it had taken for them to sell out.
“Oh, we’ve still got some,” she said. “I’ve got, like, 100 of them back here behind the register. I just can’t leave them out this late.”
So I bought one. It was 40 percent off the suggested retailer price, and I saved even more money with my Kroger Plus card. Bargain.
Then I went home with my book and breakfast cereal.
And I’ve never felt more like a grown-up, more like a muggle, in my life.
Karl Rundgren is managing editor and co-anchor of Fox Toledo News.