Excuse me, but I'm still wiping the sleep from my eyes, having climbed into bed sometime on this side of one o'clock in the morning following our date with destiny. Or was that density? We stayed up late last night waiting to be the first, or some of the first, to own a copy of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." We spent the evening quietly enough, with a house full of my son's friends and their parents, each one reminding us that what we were heading to do was insane.
When we reached Borders Bookstore, a sprawling megastore that sells all manner of media and a nice latte' (or so I'm told), there were throngs of people already waiting. There were parents with kids, parents without kids, kids who should have been with their parents, disgruntled teens who didn't need their parents around thank you very much, and some adults who were probably there because their parents didn't love them enough when they were kids. All these folks were meandering through the stacks and shelves of books, CD's, DVD's, magazines and Cliff's Notes (no advance copies of the Cliff's Notes for Harry Potter 6 were available - I checked). There were some organized activities: a Hogwarts Trivia Contest, a table to make your own wizard hat (purple cone of paper with crayon), and the obligatory check-in table. We spent a few moments considering what we wanted to start with, and concluded that getting a book to sit and read while the time passed made the most sense.
As the hour grew later, we moved to the actual line for purchasing the book that snaked through the store. From our spot in the line we couldn't see the cash registers that would eventually be our salvation and our deliverance. We sat down on the very thin carpet and began the small talk with others that would while away the hours - minute by minute.
Then something happened: The lights went out. There was the expected "ooo's" and "ahhh's" from the assembled throng, with few squeals from children of all ages, then we all waited for the lights to come back on. And we waited. And waited. A Borders employee dressed unfortunately like some sort of valet/puritan settler walked through the store taking digital pictures assuring us all that we had nothing to fear, everything would be fine.
Everything wasn't fine. Pacific Gas and Electric finally returned a call to someone's cell phone to say that there was no way that they were going to be able to get the store back on line that night. Embarrassed Borders employees who had taken their festive garb off started to make the announcement to us all: There would be no Harry Potter (or any of the pile of impulse selections families had made while lingering for hours in the store) sold that night - but we were all invited back bright and early the following morning to buy as many copies (3) as we could carry.
The disappointment of an eight year boy (no matter how old he really is) is palpable. There was a hush that fell over us all as we made our way politely to the exit. A few folks wanted to discuss the issue, but when we got outside and realized that there was a power (or lack thereof) larger than ourselves at work. Bless my wife's cheerful enthusiasm for suggesting - with half an hour left to the deadline - that we drive back to our neighborhood bookstore to see if they were open and just maybe had a copy of Harry Potter to spare.
The interior of Laurel Bookstore is approximately the size of Borders' reference section, but it was packed and spilling out into the street when we got there - twenty minutes to spare. My son wriggeled up to the front of the crowd to take a peek at the magician who was performing at the back of the store (what a great idea, why didn't Borders think of that?). Mom and Dad pushed their way to the counter and insinuated ourselves a "reserved" copy of the most important book in the publishing world. Just after midnight, the magic show concluded, and they started passing out the books.
On the ride home, my son read the first sentence of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" aloud to us. He was incredibly tired, but incredibly pleased. When we got home, he insisted on being read to sleep from his new book. We all climbed up into his bed and read the first five pages before the soft snoring began. He's still asleep, but he'll be up soon - reading.