Tuesday, July 17, 2007

AKA Gandalf, AKA Dumbledore

I do not blame J.R.R. Tolkien. I do not blame J.K. Rowling. Not really. Well, maybe a little, in the way that you blame people for doing things they have every right to do, like being ahead of you in the grocery store check-out line with a shopping basket full of produce that the clerk doesn't know the codes for.

Really, I suppose, it started with the Lord of the Rings movies, but I don't blame Ian McKellen either. It's not his fault he looks a lot like me (shared Scottish ancestry.) With the movie, as with all major movies these days, the publisher reissued the book with new covers showing scenes from the film. When the new book arrived in our bookstore, it arrived in large numbers, with a cardboard display stand. With the cardboard display stand came an almost full-size--I mean like five feet tall--cardboard image (I think they call it a standee) of Ian McKellen as Gandalf. Grey robes, beard, long hair, staff, elven ring. Gandalf.

Apparently he looked like me. Not that I have the beard or the grey robes--just the long hair, and seemingly the same bewildered expression that the standee wore. Some of my fellow employees couldn't help pointing this out. Some of them pointed it out more than once. In an affectionate way, of course.

Fast forward to the present. The publication of the last Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is imminent. Like almost every bookstore in the country, we're having a Harry Potter party on the eve of the release date, so we can start selling the book at midnight. Food and drink, games, activities (make your own wand! read the crystal ball!), door prizes, trivia contests, costumes...

Costumes. The kids dress up as their favorite characters from the books. It's scary how good the costumes are. The store staff dress up too... well, those of them who can be convinced to do it. You can see where is going.

I haven't read the books (maybe I'll get around to them after I finish Finnegan's Wake and Gravity's Rainbow) but it seems there's this wizard named Dumbledore. It seems I resemble him. A lot. A five-year-old was the first to point this out. Much to the glee of my co-workers.

So the question is... will I dress up as Dumbledore for the party? Will I emcee the divination lottery? Will I read the strange wizardly words that Dumbledore would read?

If I've learned anything in my centuries as a wizard, it's that attempting to predict the future is risky at best. So I won't try to answer those questions. What will happen Friday night, will happen. But I will say this: I wouldn't be much of a wizard if I didn't have the ability to make myself invisible.


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