Determined not to have another night of drama like we had two years ago, we conscientiously went ahead, months in advance, and reserved our copy of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" at our local bookstore. Our local bookstore. Our local, independently owned small bookstore. I emphasize the small because the hundred or so bodies that filled the place in the hours before midnight put us all in peril of asphyxiation, but it was worth it.
Not that I have finished the book. I still have several hundred pages left to read, and since this one will be read round-robin style by all three of us, I suspect I may have to get up early or stay up late to get my turn in. What made last night so worthwhile was, of all things, part of the patter delivered by the magician who was there to entertain us in the moments leading up to the official release of the book, redefining the term "captive audience". This didn't bother our performer, Blake Maxam (billed as the Wizard of “Aahhhhs"), who worked from a cramped corner near the back of the store to a group that ranged in age from eight to eighty. Early in his show, he stopped to deflect a certain level of pre-teen heckling he was getting from down in front. "I know what you're thinking," he said with hands on hips, "You're thinking 'I know how he did that.' Well, let me make a suggestion: Tomorrow while you're watching television, maybe during a commercial, take a moment and say, 'Oh, that's how he did that!' But for now, sit back, relax and be amazed." And to his credit, and to those kids who were down in front, the show proceeded to enthrall right up until the stroke of midnight, when the boxes opened and the books made their way into feverish hands.
That suspension of disbelief is so hard to come by these days, and we all sat there mildly amazed for fifty-some minutes. We took our copy of the new Harry Potter book home and read the first chapter aloud as a family. I got out of bed before anyone else this morning to get a head start. My wife and son are in the living room even now, working to catch up. There's magic in the air.