(One of the posts I wrote on my Swell 24.7 blog in my previous life as a gift store owner in the busy tourist town of Provincetown on Cape Cod; posts that are grouped here under the category What Else Is Swell?, and are generally about life in Provincetown, life as a retailer, our fabulous dog Jack who sat outside the store for well over a decade, and other random things that grabbed me at the time.)
Four years ago almost to the day I was in the store on a Saturday morning wishing I hadn't ordered Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows from Amazon.com because there is no UPS delivery in Provincetown on a Saturday so I would have to wait until Monday for mine to arrive, by which time at least half the 9-14 year old population of the US would have read the massive book cover to cover 2 or even 3 times. Plus Sunday was my day off that year so I wouldn't even be able to start it for 6 days because, other than my day off, I would be at the store for at least 14hrs a day, which doesn't leave a lot of Potter time. But just as I was thinking this the Bulgarian student that worked for us said something to the effect of "Look at that small UPS truck. It's the same size as the ones we have at home."
And before I could even really register what she had said a short man in a brown uniform poked his head around the door, waved a red and white box in our direction and talking in a sing song voice like we were 10 years old asked "Anybody expecting a special delivery?" And acting like a 10 year old I shouted "Me, me" and rushed toward him like he was my own private Hedwig.
(That, by the way, is what brown can do for you.)
This was clearly a mission he was born to do; clearly the day he had been hoping for when he joined the ranks of delivery personnel. He told us that all he had on his truck that day were hundreds of the new Harry Potter books. That was it, no other deliveries. And he was driving from one end of the Outer Cape to the other bringing joy to children (and me) in every little town and village along the way.
He was my Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the book, hero.
Nick happened to walk in at that moment and seeing the box it came in which had been specially designed for Amazon.com he went into Collectible Stuff Becomes Valuable Eventually mode and tried to persuade me not to open it. He said in 10 years time it would be worth much more if I left the book inside and he would go and see if the local book store had any copies left. But I wasn't having any of it. This particular copy was mine and this was the one I was going to read. Hedwig had brought it.
I had read all the other books, of course, but in paperback because, well you know, hardbacks are so cumbersome. Plus I didn't mind waiting the year or so for the paperback edition. I mean contrary to the impression you might get from this blog post, I wasn't obsessive about it. But I didn't want to wait for the last one and accidentally hear spoilers and plot twists and the like so this is my only hardback Harry Potter.
And then the next day Nick suddenly got very sick; and now I'm suddenly wondering if it was because I wouldn't let him keep my special box intact, because it was nearly as bad for me as for him because I had no days off for well over a month which meant reading HP&TDH in short snippets over that time. Quite honestly I think it's what kept me at all sane that summer when I was doing both our jobs at the store, and trying to take care of him, and generally feeling triple the exhaustion I normally feel by the end of August. But, I survived and so did he. And I kept meaning to reread the book because I felt I was distracted and didn't absorb it all thoroughly, but I never did.
And in the meantime, we saw the movies as they came out; going to a couple of them at midnight because it's fun and different, and generally in life a bit 'fun and different' is much called for. And over the last month we rented them all again to catch up on all the goings on before seeing the 8th and final movie.
And, of course, we went to it at midnight at the Wellfleet Cinemas. And as usual we were 3 times the age of most people in there and we, like the few other 40/50/60 year olds who were dotted around the cinema, were smack bang in the middle of a group of teenagers who were dressed in wizards robes and Hogwarts scarves and waving rather impressive wands that lit up and made swishing sounds. And I was struck by how cool it was that strapping 17ish year old lads thought so much of these books and movies that they would wear a silly costume at midnight, and show off by throwing around quotes from the book. And also how cool it was that their friends were all so impressed.
Reading the #deathlyhallowspt2 stream on Twitter I noticed how many teenagers were saying it was like the end of their childhood which at first I thought was a bit OTT but then I realized that many of them really had grown up with Harry Potter, probably even learned to read via JK Rowling's tomes (something she should be immensely proud of) and so for them it really was like the end of their childhood and they really weren't sure where to go from here.
But, being of the age where my childhood ended eons ago, to me they were no more than a damn good read and (unusually for books made into films) a damn good watch too.
And I loved the final movie, where all the loose ends get tied and you find out whether or not Snape was a goody or a baddy, and who wasn't quite what we thought, and who gets together with who, and who dies, and who doesn't, and who wins the ultimate battle that we've known for 15 years would have to take place eventually. (Of course I knew all the answers because no matter how distracted I was when I read the book I did get the basic plot lines!)
And my hero of the movie? Hands down, no question about it, Neville Longbottom. The completely unpredictable sub plot of how he came into his own (which I totally don't remember from the book) was fantastic. I mean (and there is a tiny spoiler here that is really more of a Make Sure You Notice This When It Happens and I don't think it will ruin the film for you at all), I mean he goes to fight the big nasty snake that hangs out with Voldemort wearing a cardigan. (That's Neville in the cardigan, by the way, not Voldemort or even the snake for that matter!) Yes, a cardigan - what every geek is wearing for highly dangerous, save the world type combat situations; probably knitted for him by his Gran.
I do love a geek with a hidden talent don't you? And in this film Neville Logbottom, cardigan not withstanding, is a total badass rock star and rather more interesting than the other characters, including Harry himself. I think he might have taken over from Christian in Moulin Rouge as my best ever screen crush (although given that I am 48, and he is 17 or 18, lets hope it passes soon!)
So I wanted to end this with a picture of Neville Longbottom in his cardigan fighting Nagini and, figuring there must be one online, I googled it and came across a Facebook page called "Fighting Voldemort in a cardigan cause you're Neville F***ing Longbottom" and I realized "I f***ing love the internet".
The page has over 70,000 fans, 4,000 of whom joined in the hour or two I've been writing this. I was tempted to hit the LIKE button myself but Facebook is so awfully public and I just didn't want my friends and family all getting a notice that I had done that, especially as they totally know how old I am. Plus I read some of the posts and, while I think it's awesome that someone set up the tribute, I really don't need some of those comments landing on my page. Facebook should really have a button that says I Want To Anonymously LIKE You Just To Support You And Be Counted But Please Don't Ever Contact Me Again.
So if you haven't seen the movie yet, but you are old like me, then you can be one step ahead of all the teenagers in wizard's robes; you can a wear a cardigan. Those teenagers will look at you funny on the way in but trust me, you'll get so much respect on the way out.