How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Book
So now that I've finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I finally feel like I can tell the story of how I came to acquire the book.
I actually had two copies reserved, one in Columbia and one down here in the SMT, but since I know some of the people who work at the Waldenbooks by work (including my Main Man), I decided to get my copy up there at midnight, giving my other reservation to Brandon.
But first, Tug and I went over to the Barnes & Noble across town to see what was shaking over there. One of our good customers, Julie, had said that was where she was getting her copy, and that we should stop by and check it out. I doubt she was expecting us to actually show up, but we did anyway, because that's how we roll.
The place was packed, and collectively, the crowd at B&N was sporting more eyeglasses than I've ever seen in my life--and I'm talking prescription lenses here, not the Harry Potter ones they were giving out. Not that that's a complaint; I like a girl in glasses. Especially if she happens to be wearing a schoolgirl-skirt-and-necktie "costume." Come to think of it, I wasn't aware that Cho Chang ever sported fishnet stockings, but hey, you learn something every day.
I did meet up with Julie, as it turns out, and I had a good time talking to her and looking at the pictures she'd taken, until the First Interloping John of the night showed up and interposed himself between us. I excused myself, returning to say goodbye to Julie, and then Tug and I split for Waldenbooks. As we left, I walked past a redneck in his forties who was loitering with his kids in the magazine section. "Man," he said in a thick southern accent, "I been waitin' forever fer this book."
I was struck by the thought that Harry Potter's a phenomenon that stretches across boundaries to appeal to so many groups of people. And yet I can't find a single person to talk to about it besides Chan who doesn't want to see Harry and Malfoy have sex with each other. I hate you all.
In contrast to Barnes & Noble, an upscale store that seems to cater to the pretty people of the literary set, the crowd at Waldenbooks was a little more disheartening. The mall is right next to the store where I work, so the crowd was one that I was familiar with. When we walked into the mall past a throng of people arguing about Star Wars, I knew I was back in my own element. It was weird, though, seeing some of our customers--some of whom I actively loathe, as I'm sure you're aware--out of their usual context.
It begged the question as to whether or not one of the guys I saw had given his real name for his book reservation, or if he'd told them to put it under the name of his counter-terrorist werewolf character like he does at Fuddrucker's.
Also, when it was finally time to get the book, I was in line behind a customer who only buys Japanese pornography and kid's books like Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I spent my time in line trying desperately not to get ensnared by the hypnotic sight of his silvery back-hair bursting forth from the collar of his polo shirt.
I tore myself away when I finally got my book, thankfully preserving what little sanity I have left and followed the line up to the register. Rob (II) snapped my picture, then I paid and left, unaware that I was being shadowed by what would become the Second Interloping John of the night.
Like his predecessor before him, this guy was a customer at the store. This guy has spoken literally four words to me, and yet he felt compelled to follow me out the door to where Tug was waiting with Rob's lady-friend Becky--who greeted me with, "Oh, you're the one with the blog."
I didn't notice him at first until he started talking, and I swear to you, if he was actually going for me to be totally creeped out, this guy deserves a TV show. He was standing there with a big black S painted on his forehead, and as I feigned interest, he related the following tale:
"I walked up to the face paint table and they were all like hey let us put a lightning bolt on your forehead and I told them to put an S instead and they said 'S for Slytherin?' and I said 'No, S for Saruman, because HE'S THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE.'"
Becky and her friends didn't know who Saruman was, so I had to explain it to them, and I got the impression that they thought we were together. If any of you are out there reading this, I don't even know that guy.
Shortly after he wandered off into the night, I caught sight of another customer of ours as he came out of the movie theater. Yes, friends, it was Sweet Sam the Legally Blind Gigolo, out on the town in a double-breasted white suit, white shirt, and white tie. I could barely speak, and just kept smacking Tug's arm and going: "Looklooklooklook over there!" as he got into a taxi. He was alone, leaving me to believe that some poor desperate woman had called him for a romantic encounter, and, faced with what she actually got, excused herself to the bathroom and never returned.
An eventful night on the town. For me, at least.