For some people, this’ll be a very boring thread. “Uh, I opened the Amazon box that showed up at my door.” OK, that’s fine.
For others, though, such as those who braved the crowd at 12:01 AM on the 21st, I’m sure you have some interesting stories to tell. I think I do.
At around 11:00 PM, I put on my robe and grabbed my walking stick, looking rather convincingly like a Dementor once I had the hood up (being 6’6" can help sometimes). My eldest daughter also wore her black robe, while my 8-year-old daughter wore a Harry Potter t-shirt, as did a friend of the family we had staying over. My youngest daughter (2 and a half) wore her favorite wizard cap.
And so we, the family of geeks (me as Head Geek), set out for Barnes and Noble to brave the crowds.
We arrived at about 11:45. The parking lot had overflowed into neighboring parking lots, and had begun to fill up the mall parking across the street. We parked over there, and I pulled my hood over my head and walked my family across the street. Several people noticably shied away from me as I flowed across the street in my long black robe with hanging sleeves.
Entering the store, my first thought was that all the people filling it had been brought together by this one book… that was pretty cool. My wife’s first thought was that it had to be a fire code violation. I’m sure she was right.
After milling around a bit, and getting my photo taken by one “big fan,” we found the end of the first line. This was the line where people who pre-ordered The Book would receive a numbered ticket. The number on the ticket would define when that person could stand in the second line, where they would receive their book and then proceed to purchase it.
After ten or fifteen minutes in the first line, I had our ticket. It was now after midnight and numbers were being called in series. It was going to be a long wait. My daughters had disappeared in the crowd, and I felt sure my wife would go back out to the car shortly. Within minutes, she did. I stayed to listen for our number, and shop around.
There were many kids dressed up in various sorts of “witchy” clothes, from grade-schoolers to teenagers to… well, me. Very few adults had dressed up, though, which made me something of a celebrity. I got my photo taken yet again, and a couple of teenage boys asked me to cast a Level 9 Fireball or Dimension Door on them. I obliged with a Magic Missile.
Walking around, I passed a lovely woman about my age who looked at me and smiled every time we walked by one another. Finally she asked if I had made my costume. I had to confess that I had purchased it the previous year. She told me she made costumes, and suddenly I recognized her. When I had last seen her, she had had pointy ears, a stunning white flowing dress, and an ornate silver pendant, and had been standing in line on front of me for popcorn. This had been last November, and I still recognized her… she was gorgeous as an elfen princess, and was still lovely in her “mundane” clothes. We chatted about costumes, renaissance faires, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Harry Potter for a bit. This alone made the evening worth it. Never let it be said I pass up a chance to chat up a pretty, engaging young woman who happens to share many interests with me.
Meanwhile, the B&N employee calling out ticket numbers was obviously losing some of her previous enthusiasm for it, though when she saw me she laughed and gave me a high five.
“Heeeyy! You’re a… thing!” she said.
Oh well… I think most people got it. And I have to give her credit; her job had to have been exhausting and very trying.
The clever technique of keeping people in the store worked for me; while wandering around I found a cheap sketchbook for myself. Finally, my number was called and I got in the second line. While moving steadily through the store (it stretched most of the way across), I talked to an 8-year-old girl who had just had her ears pierced, and the girl’s mother. We talked about piercing, and how my eldest daughter was still afraid to do it. I said the girl was very brave for going through it. She was obviously very tired and very excited about the new book. So was her mother.
The ticket-takers at the end of the line were pretty mean, playing jokes on tired kids at 1 AM. I saw a little boy hand one of them a ticket, and the woman took it and said “Thanks.” The boy stared at her, not knowing what to say or do. She stared back for several seconds… then dropped the other shoe. “Oh, you want a book?” Mean, mean. I threatened her with my heavy walking stick and I got my book straight away.
The young man who rang up my new purchases looked like he was about to fall over. “How’s it going?” I asked.
“I’m here,” his only answer. I completed the purchase and left.
End result: I was made to feel like a celebrity because I took a few extra minutes to throw on a recycled Halloween costume and wear it to the store. I was more social tonight than I usually am in a given week, even talking at length to the prettiest woman in the room (even without pointy ears) about a great many things. I got to be vaguely menacing without even trying. I picked up a new sketch book for myself, so I can ease back into drawing. And, oh yes, I became a statistic for the next day’s news, because I got the new Harry Potter book!