(Note: The following entry–and all entries on my blog, for that matter, will not contain spoilers regarding the final book in the Harry Potter series, so please feel free to read on!)
THAT, my friends, was probably the fastest I’ve ever read a book. If you want to discuss any aspect of Deathly Hallows or the Potter series in general, please please please email me off-blog (theoldmanse at gmail dot com), and I’ll be happy to dive deeply with you….
To begin with, you need to understand this: I’ve been waiting for the launch of this book since–well, since the launch of Half-Blood. Nothing could have prepared me, though, for what has happened over the last forty-eight hours.
Leading up to the midnight launch on Friday night/Saturday morning, my daughter, Holland, and I had been planning our costumes with great detail. There was never a question of whether we were going to dress up for the occasion; the question was, who would we be?
One look at my daughter, an 11-year-old, and immediately a younger Tonks came to mind. She’s got the look, the attitude, the fun-ness about her–everything. So Tonks it was. She was all punked out with the black knee-length lace tights, the mini-skirt, and the multi-colored hair that changed depending on how it hit the light just right. She looked awesome.
There was no question in anybody’s mind that I was made to be Mad-Eye. Designing my costume, however, took a great deal of effort. I knew I had to find some key pieces of clothing (and accessories) to be a genuine Mad-Eye: the leather jacket, the flask, the cane, and the roving eye.
The leather jacket found me the Wednesday before the launch. All I needed to do was show up at the right place. I didn’t own anything that resembled Mad-Eye’s black jacket, so I decided to hit our local Goodwill store. Within three minutes, it had found me. Mixed in with all of the other miscellaneous jackets was this long, black, leather coat, adorned with many zippers and silver snaps, AND it was my size–not an easy find, to say the least. I tried it on, turned to Tonks and my wife, and they both agreed: that jacket was convincingly Mad-Eye.
The price tag was the only drawback: $75. I wasn’t prepared to pay that much for something I’d probably wear for the Deathly Hallows launch and for Halloween. I put it back on the rack and pouted. When I told my wife how much it was, she thought that it was too much money to spend on such a costume, despite how Mad-Eye-ish it was.
I went to the counter and pleaded my case; with a hint of sympathy, the manager smiled and said that all prices were final. She picked up a little card and waved it in the air. “The only way I can discount your jacket,” she said, “is if you have a discount scratch-off card.”
“May I have one?” I asked, instinctively.
“Certainly. They’re free with every purchase.”
I looked around the store. There really wasn’t a single thing I wanted here, except for that jacket.
I thanked her and we left.
I was a bit defeated walking out of there without the jacket I knew I was meant to wear. Just like Harry knew which wand was his in his First Year when he went to Ollivander’s (“the wand chooses the wizard…“), so I knew that this jacket was meant to be Mad-Eye’s. Driving away from the Goodwill store, I plotted how I might justify spending the $75.
In my real life, I was just finishing teaching a four-week, six-credit graduate course on the teaching of writing, and I had just been paid 50% of my salary. The money was there in the bank. I had not treated myself to anything during the past four weeks, and I decided the next day that, whether it was sensible or not, I was just going to buy the damned thing.
That night, and early the next morning, I plotted possible ways to knock $30 off the price. I dreamed of intricate stories of helping neighbors in need who just lost spouses, jobs, the whole lot. All they needed was this one jacket….can we work something out, here?
I talked about it with my grad students on Thursday, and they all agreed: that jacket was meant to be mine. I swallowed hard, thinking of the cost, when suddenly one of my grad students shouted “Wait!” and dove into her purse, scrambling frantically.
“Maybe. . . Just maybe. . .” she kept saying as she dug deeper and deeper into her bag. Finally, as many of us stood around holding our breath for reasons we didn’t really understand (I’m telling you, this was a very dramatic moment!), she pulled a card from her bag and shouted, “YES!”
I walked over to her and she placed the card in my hand. It was a little creased, and the edges had worn off a bit. I turned it over and looked at the front, where she had already scratched off the hidden discount.
“FIFTY PERCENT OFF!!!”
I screamed, too. I couldn’t believe that she had just saved me nearly $40! I gave her a big hug, tucked the card securely in my pocket, and quickly moved on to the next quest: building a Mad Eye. . . .
Part II will be posted at 5 p.m. today (Monday, 7/23)!. . . . .