Harry at midnight

It is exactly 3:21 a.m. 

I am picking the last few kernels of popcorn from my teeth and wearing a homemade black t-shirt emblazoned with the words “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good” on the front and “mischief managed” on the back. I am home earlier than last year. I don’t have kids to drive back and forth now that my son and his entourage are older. Having lost my cover of chauffer, I still go on my own. My friends and I arrive early and have dinner, hang out in the theater and then chat on the phone driving home to keep each other awake. After months of following trailers, I have seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One at the midnight showing.

There are already 157 reviews on the Rotten Tomatoes website and technically the movie opened only three hours ago. The results are as expected. Fans love it. Character development! Devotion to the book! Atmosphere! Critics quibble too long, too dark, too meandering. Both agree that it doesn’t matter much what they write. People will go see it regardless. My suburban movieplex filled ten theaters tonight and the crowds will no doubt continue throughout the weekend and holiday week.

I could have gone any time. Why go tonight? Why am I sitting here at now 3:48 a.m. thinking about my movie excursion instead of posting my planned scrap of prose?

My late-night-blurry-eyed confession: I love midnight premieres. I love cataloguing the kids dressed up in Gryffindor ties and robes, Ron’s pompom stocking cap, Tonk’s pink hair and Dobby’s colorful socks. A few kids waved authentic looking wands and broomsticks. One woman proudly wore the word “MUGGLE” in big gold letters – a bold choice considering the marginalization non-magic folk in the 7th book. My son inexplicably showed up in a Lord of the Rings cape. I suppose he was going for Dementor. I love snooping over shoulders to see what people are watching on their iPhones. I love the buzz and energy of anticipation the hours before and the exhausted trudge toward the exits when it is over. I love being a part of something so silly in content and yet oddly meaningful in connection. People were surprisingly nice to one another tonight, pointing at available seats, saying “excuse me” when they edged through aisles, holding doors open. My friend was both mortified and delighted to be called ma’am, not once but twice. It was refreshing to see strangers sharing a common passion or curiosity; a mob using their power for good, or at least for harmless fun.

But is this enough? It is hard not to consider the triviality of the whole thing in juxtaposition with the rest of my day. My sister had called me on the way to the theater to discuss her going to Haiti as a relief worker in the Cholera outbreak. In various work conversations, I heard of a family with a sick child, the death of a beloved past employee and a family struggling with long term unemployment. Real issues with no spells for solutions, no intermissions, no concessions. Tomorrow I will gut through the day tired and murky. I keep vacillating, questioning my time and interest spent, perhaps squandered. I am a grown woman in a Marauder’s Map t-shirt debating what my animal manifestation would be if I could actually produce a Patronus Charm. It is embarrassing.

There is a lovely scene in the movie where Harry, watching a depressed and forlorn Hermione, takes her hand when a song comes on the radio and begins to dance with her. He moves like a clunky adolescent boy and she is reluctant to participate, but eventually they find rhythm, humor and a trace of joy. It is interesting that before he approaches her, Harry removes the villainous locket from around his neck, freeing them from their quest for one symbolic moment. This interaction is not in the book, but cinematically it progresses the relationships and gives the viewer their own needed respite from the very serious business of vanquishing evil.

As I looked around at the audience, surprisingly diverse in age and levels of fandom, I realized that what keeps me coming to an occasional midnight showing is the very absurdity that makes me question it. It is unexpected. A ridiculous lark. All the respectable people are in bed except for a few weirdoes. It is an illogical break, a funny little jig in the routine. Low risk irrationality that keeps maturity and sensibility at bay and offers a narrative where anything is possible with perseverance, Twizzlers and no sleep. It is mysterious behavior and therefore almost . . . magical.

(It would be a badger, by the way)

7 responses to “Harry at midnight”

  1. Stella says:

    Ooohhh! How lovely. I can’t wait.

    I love that it’s a badger. I’d like to think mine might be a black panther but would probably just be a little black moggy. Expecto patronum!

  2. Reckon mine would be a lark…

    Sounds like fun! Ellen and I are going to the matinee tomorrow with Sylvia.

  3. Andrew says:

    This was a pleasure to read. Can’t wait to see it myself…

  4. Rachel says:


    OK, I just had to get that out of the way.

    When Book 7 came out, I had no intention of reading it, at least not for a while, because I was sitting at my grandfather’s bedside in the hospice, waiting for him to die. (By that time it had been days, weeks, and death would have been a gift.) Reading of any sort seemed frivolous. Pointless. But my mom showed up with the book, knowing somehow that it would be a perfect time. It busted me out of my emotional purgatory of feigned courage and let me laugh, cry, whatever, even there in the hospice room.

    I think we have to take it all as it comes along. The small joys, the fun, along with the chaos and grief. Fantasy serves as important a human function as tragedy. It makes me very. very happy to think of you at the midnight show.

    The Patronus thing is stumping me. What would you guess?

  5. PB says:


    Thank you so much for sharing – you captured exactly what I was thinking about.

    As far as the Patronus – I think a hawk – considered one of the most intelligent birds, yet thoughtful, self-contained, strong, beautiful and is symbolic throughout the Shakespearean world.

    But the badger will still attack you if you cross it.

    Not dead yeat and 1:27 p.m. I expect to fall down around 4ish . . .

  6. Stella says:

    uh, oh…harry potter spells app may get downloaded soon…!


  7. Oh, Pandora. Please keep writing, please. And please. Keep posting the link on Facebook so I keep coming back here on days that aren’t Monday.