Deathly Hallows & Me: It's Like I'm Some Kind of Frickin Genius
I wanted the final Harry Potter book; wanted it now, stamping my little foot exactly like Veruca Salt. But standing in line for three hours at midnight, surrounded by the berobed, bespectacled and be-wanded? Not so much. My dignity was at stake. I'm umpty-ump years old, and those people are nerds.
(For a movie? Sure, that's an inherently social experience, and standing in line only adds to it. But standing in line to get a book that I'm then going to take home and read by myself is just moronic.)
Normally, this wouldn't be a problem. I would just go the following morning when the bookstores reopened. I know they'll have ordered eleventy-hojillion of the things, so availability wouldn't be a concern. However, this wasn't really an option. The morning of, we were leaving the house at 7 AM to go to SeaWorld for the day, followed by a Cub Scout overnight in the park. I resigned myself to having to go and do the midnight thing after all; no way was I going to wait until Sunday afternoon, allowing some jackass to ruin it for me.
Then I had an idea. It remained my plan up until July 19th: go to Wal-Mart. Surely there wouldn't be long lines there -- nobody's that dumb! (Except me, I guess.) Only there was this niggling thought in the back of my head -- too obvious. Sure enough, after the fact, I found out that (BIG SPOILER ALERT) it would have been a bad idea.
So I concocted a new plan: I learned that my local Randall's store (a Safeway-owned grocery chain) would have copies of the book at launch day, and they would be open at 6. Ah-ha! I would get up early, go to Randall's, buy the book and some dramamine, and read it in the car on the way to SeaWorld. Brilliant! I would get the book a mere couple of hours later than the schmucks who waited in line
The alarm went off at 6 AM. My wife, already awake (prepping for SeaWorld, remember) said "It's 6:00". Redundancy, that's the key to a successful plan. I leapt out of bed; I am not a morning person at all but if a new Harry Potter book came out every day I'd never be late to work.
Drove down the street (more or less) to the Randall's (drive drive drive), pulled into the parking lot and what did I see? About 5 cars. Yes! Brilliant! I jumped out of my car and ran to the door, and as I entered the store I saw that it was practically vacant. Brilliant! I crossed to the books area, up front near the register, and what did I see?
Not one copy of the book.
I am thrown by this, but not all the way off the horse. OK, it was early, I could see they were stocking stuff, maybe they just hadn't cracked open their inventory yet. I decided to give them a few minutes to get to it before I started kicking someone's ass . . . maybe my own. I went to grab the Dramamine. Inevitably it takes me ten minutes to find whatever I'm looking for in that place anyway.
Next stumbling block: no Dramamine. No motion sickness meds of any kind whatsoever. And I need it, too. When I was a kid, I could read Dune (the old paperback edition with about a 30 degree bend to the spine and little tiny cramped type) with my head bouncing off the metal frame of the school bus window. Nowadays? Read one article in the paper and bleaugh!
I was frustrated, as you might imagine. But undaunted! I had just made up my mind to go talk to someone about where the hell my book was when I spotted generic Safeway motion sickness stuff. Score! Then I had another genius insight: the door I came in was the side door, not the main one. If they were going to have a display of the book, they might have put it at the other end of the store.
Indeed, as I ran down there, I saw they had about 20 copies of the book in the middle of -- get this -- a giant castle made of Coke. As if I was going to look at the book and go "That's right, reading is thirsty work. I better grab a case of Coke Zero." I picked up my copy of the book, skipped the Coke, checked out and headed home.
Total round trip time: 30 minutes. I would call the plan a success. I read roughly the first 150 pages on the trip to Seaworld, grabbed a few pages here and there during downtime in the overnight program, and finished it reading by booklight at 1:30 the following morning, tucked away in my sleeping bag in the shark tank at SeaWorld.