Harry Potter Ruined My Life
When I was eight, I was really good friends with the school librarian. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I was that kid. I had just started wearing glasses; I had also recently quit soccer and, as a result, I was growing a nice little pot belly; and, though this was the age everyone was supposed to like everyone, I was annoying as fuck. Sure, I had my friends, but I was a bossy bitch. (Haha—“was.”) So the librarian and I? Best friends.
It had its benefits, though. Sometimes I would ask to go to the bathroom and just visit her instead, and I wouldn’t get into trouble. Because, I mean, hey, who’s gonna punish a kid for wanting to sneak away to the library? I also got first pick of all the new arrivals. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets had just been published, and I remember so distinctly sitting in a circle on the floor during reading hour.
“Do any of you know what Harry Potter is?” she asked us. In my head, I was all, Dafuq is that? Several hands shot up in the air, though, and I became intrigued.
“Well,” she continued, “I just received the second book in the series. Who here would like to read it first?”
Again, hands shot up into the air. I raised mine out of a sense of competition. There must have been at least four hands in the air before mine, and yet she said: “Lisa. I saw yours first. You take it.” Everyone else groaned. One girl flipped me off with her stubby, glitter-nail-polished hands.
You could see the smug emanating off of me in big, cartoonish stink lines. And yet, I hadn’t even read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at that point. That’s right. I was such an asshole that I deprived my fellow classmates who had read the first book in the series of the privilege of being the first kid in the class to read Chamber of Secrets.
But, I mean, fuck them, right? I got to keep the book for two whole weeks, and I was a fast reader. I had time. So I went to the public library, borrowed Sorcerer’s Stone and read that first. Boy howdy, I will never forget the heroin-like euphoria of reading that book. I became consumed by it.
At bedtime, I would sleepily wish my dear mother good night. As soon as I heard her descend the stairs, I would take my table lamp and hide under the covers, giddy to find out what the hell Fluffy was guarding and, eventually, how Moaning Myrtle died.
So, yes, this love story started out of my natural tendency to be a complete and total asshole, but it is a love story nonetheless. And yet, the universe has a way of giving people what is due to them. What do I mean? Oh nothing, except for the fact that HARRY POTTER HAS RUINED MY FUCKING LIFE.
You might think that I am exaggerating, but I assure you that I am not. Let me break it down for you.
The Sorting Hat Debacle
I have never been an organized person. When I was child, cleaning my room meant digging a path from the door to the bed and arranging my stuffed animals in size order. Yet, as I have gotten older, I have attempted to, at the very least, keep my mess to the kitchen and my desk. Meaning that my clean clothes go in the closet and the dirty ones in the hamper.
I recently invented a game, however, that I like to call the Sorting Hat. Theoretically, when I wash my clothes, they should go from the hamper to the hanger. Instead, I like to pick whatever pants are closest to me and rummage through the hamper to pick my top. In my head it goes a little something like this:
What to wear, what to wear?
Not the yellow sweater. Not the yellow sweater.
Not the yellow sweater, you say? You could look great, you know, and the yellow sweater would help you on the way to greatness. No? Are you sure? Well then, better be—THE BLACK T-SHIRT!
And, you know, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. This game has led me to lose my work shoes five minutes before I should be, technically speaking, walking through the door. (Why, yes, I am going to get fired!) Frequently, I find it difficult to locate matching socks and end up looking like an idiot wearing one fuzzy blue sock and one UnderArmor running sock—though no one ever wants to sit next to me on the bus, so I guess it does have its benefits.
The worst of it, though, is a genuine occupational hazard living in my apartment. Because I simply must play this game, my dirty clothes find their way onto my floor. One morning, I got up to go to the bathroom and slipped on a pair of jeans that should have gone into the hamper. I slid, cartoon-like, across the hardwood floor, and slammed my face into the wall. When I came to a few minutes later, I couldn’t remember my dog’s name or how old I was.
Sure, sure, keep telling me that I “don’t have to” play this game. Whatever. You try playing Sorting Hat just once. I dare you.
My poor, embarrassing education.
Growing up, I was never very invested in school. I mean, I tried with all my might to integrate my interests into my education, but that generally meant reading and daydreaming while the older generation tried to mold my young mind.
My teachers grew an intense dislike for me and, as a result, I almost had to repeat the eighth grade. What, you may ask, does this have to do with Harry and his friends? Well, much to my eighth grade teachers’ chagrin, I had decided to re-read the Harry Potter series in class.
I mean, my teachers already didn’t like me, but Harry was the tipping point. My chemistry teacher pulled me aside one day and told me that if I didn’t get my act together, I was going to fail. For the rest of the year, I had to write about modern scientific advances and how they would blah blah blah. For my first paper, I decided to write about the real-world (read: muggle) implications of a real invisibility cloak.
“Lisa,” she said. “I’m willing to deal with your inability to understand chemistry, but this is the last straw. No more Harry Potter. I will tell your parents.” And tell them she did. They intervened right before I handed in a paper on whether or not flying broomsticks were physically possible, but man, that was a close one.
Whoever said your imagination can take you anywhere did not attend middle school in New Jersey.
Socialization is hard.
I find it difficult to make friends with intelligent people who do not enjoy or have not otherwise read Harry Potter. Why? Well, when talking about the origin of words—which happens more often than you would think with graduate students—I often credit Harry Potter for my vast knowledge of Latinate words. I mean, sure I took four years of Latin in high school, but let’s be honest. I didn’t learn that lumen is Latin for light from an overweight woman who was more interested in high school gossip than spreading knowledge. I learned it from JK Rowling.
I also have a really bad habit when it comes to the word “haggard.” A while ago, as a joke, I trained myself to say “Hagrid” instead of “haggard” should the time ever come that I was lucky enough to use that word in every day conversation. Again, if you’re not a fan of Harry Potter, instead of thinking, “What a cheeky lady!” you think to yourself: “What an idiot!”
Surprisingly, most people do not find these to be endearing qualities. In fact, I have ruined many a potential friendship by throwing Harry’s name into the ring, because he is as credible an academic source as Wikipedia. (Which, by the way, is also misunderstood, much like a well-meaning stepchild.)
As a result, I spend my days sitting under the staircase in my apartment building, mumbling about lost letters and secret worlds. I expect that my eviction notice will arrive any day now. Hopefully it won’t come to me in the form of a Howler. I do, after all, have sensitive ears.