I tried so hard to resist. When this series began, I shunned it, spurned it, avoided it, and treated it like a 4 year old treats cabbage. It sounded like so much adolescent pablum; crap produced with the specific desire to make mad cash and buy bling (although imagining J.K. Rowling with either “mad cash” or “bling” is comical. She’s richer than the damn Queen!). But even though I thought of it as utter swill, I had to give her credit – she knew how to generate a following. Still, that wasn’t enough to convince me to read a kid’s book. Then I had to drive to South Carolina.

You see, I live in Dallas, but I’ve only been here long enough to transition from “I hate this place” to “At least I can get good Mexican food here”. Prior to my indentured servitude to this town, I lived in South Carolina, affectionately known as South Cacky Lacky, or The State Where One County Is Still Seceded From The Union. No shit – the county I’m from, Horry County, never officially rejoined the Union at the conclusion of the Civil War like the rest of the state did. In fact, as you drive into the county, there are road signs proclaiming “Welcome to the Independent County of Horry”. I have seen rebel flags flying over businesses that are twice the size of the American flag flying below it. I have seen an actual Ku Klux Klan application, with each non-acceptable group of people spelled out in exquisite detail (Aleutian Islanders. Seriously.) Hell, I have seen actual Ku Klux Klansmen marching in a parade, in broad daylight, in full sheets and hoods, down Main Street. It’s insane, but it’s home. White power.

Anyway, from Dallas to any part of SC is, at minimum, a 14 hour drive that I was going to be doing solo. I don’t mind driving long distances…I used to drive 80 miles, one way, to work every day…but in order to stay awake and sane, I need three things: a semi-full bladder (try falling asleep when you reallyhave to pee); several super-charged caffeine drinks like Red Bull; and talk radio. I can’t listen to music. It puts me to sleep faster than a narcoleptic at a mattress convention. And if any of you have ever driven through the wonderful state of Mississippi, you’ll know that there is a noticeable lack of attention-holding talk radio there. Or anything that doesn’t end in “-ountry” or “-ospel”. Even so, Mississippi is to South Carolina what Paris Hilton is to Steven Hawking, by comparison. In order to combat driving through Medieval Em-Eye-Crooked Letter-Crooked Letter-Eye, I brought along a friend’s MP3 player, and some books on tape on MP3 that I illegally downloaded. (Shut up. You all do it, too, except you’re all downloading “Hollaback Girl”. Don’t hate.) At the time of my search, all I could find was stupid Harry Potter books, but I figured they would amuse me (by which I mean that I would make fun of the stories even as I listened to them). As Fate would have it, I wasn’t 4 chapters into Sorcerer’s Stone before I was irrevocably hooked.

For Half Blood Prince, I at least waited before buying the book, giving myself some semblance of control over my love for the series. I managed to wait 10 days, all the while avoiding any conversation about the book, gracefully side-stepping spoilers and people trying to be dicks by spilling the ending. I finished the 652 pages in 5 days; if I didn’t have to work and go to band practice and do various and sundry other things, it would’ve been about 7 hours. I can’t explain what that witch-woman Rowling has done to make me so deeply interested in this series. I even discuss the book on message boards with other Harry Potter geeks – er, fans. And though I’m loathe to admit this to the world, I will, because I’m an attention whore: I’ve even attempted some of the spells and charms out loud. I’ve been in the living room, desiring something from the kitchen, and have actually pointed at it and said “Accio Kool-Aid!” (For you non-Potterphiles, “Accio” is a magical command given to an object, making it magically come to you. Knowledge is power.) Suffice it to say that it didn’t work. Maybe I needed a wand. Or a reality check.

I’ve been hooked on other literary series, but none to the degree at which I’m junkified to this one. Not even Lord of the Rings had such a pervasive influence on me as I read them. When I buy the books, it’s like I’m buying porn in a grocery store – I get all shifty, looking around in every direction, collar pulled high, just in case someone sees me buying it. I either need to get over it, or go ahead and get that wand and go all the way with it. Accio Insanity!

Peace.

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