Don’t wanna grow up

By the

March 22, 2001

I’m starting to think I have a problem.

As a little kid, I was obsessed with every book in the Wizard of Oz series. I read them so often, I nearly had all 14 memorized. Eventually, I started sitting on the corner of my bed everyday at noon waiting for Ozma to look in her magic mirror, see me making the secret sign and whisk me away to Oz where I would party with the Tinman and drink from chocolate rivers. I used to pick up the phone and talk to Dorothy and the Wizard until the operator’s voice came on and told me to hang up or dial again.

I was a pretty pitiful little kid.

A few years later, I became obsessed with The Lord of the Rings. For about four years, I spent all the money I had buying anything even remotely related to Tolkien’s trilogy. I read everything by Tolkien a dozen times. I was convinced that Middle-Earth existed and that Tolkien was the only historian smart enough to have found it. I even tried to convince myself that I was the lost king of Arnor and that I would one day return to Middle-Earth to reunite the twin kingdoms.

Yeah, I know. I was a little weird.

When I was in third grade, I tried to organize a trip to the Rocky Mountains for a dragon-finding expedition. I decided that, even if we didn’t find dragons, I would settle for a few unicorns.

Once I even thought I was a Jedi.

Years passed, and I thought I had left all of this behind. I’m not even sure I believe in God let alone wizards and elves and trees that talk and really old men who can spit lightning from their fingers. But just when the troll king stopped visiting me on my birthday, another series of books had to come along. Harry Potter has become my idol.

I want to be Harry Potter.

At first I didn’t want to read those books. All these people kept offering to let me read their copies. I refused. The offers kept coming, many of them from people who had probably never even read fairy tales as kids, let alone had an imaginary fairy friend. Finally, I gave into peer pressure and borrowed the first Harry Potter book.

Two days later I was standing in line at Olson’s Books with a complete set of hardcover Harry Potter books in hand. Now I have all the books, the calendar, a poster or two and some very nice figurines. I’ve made every one I talk to read the books. They love them, too. No one I’ve ever met has ever read them and not liked them. Of course, I probably wouldn’t believe them if they told me they didn’t like Harry. I’m very protective of him.

Just before Halloween, we had fights at the newspaper when I told everyone they had to dress up like characters from the books. I, of course, was going to be Harry?or Potts as I affectionately refer to him. I almost faked a severe illness so that I wouldn’t have to go home for my cousin’s wedding which inconveniently fell on Halloween weekend.

The other day I was munching on a sardine-flavored jelly bean from Bertie Botts, when it occurred to me that I might be insane. I mean, I’m a 21-year-old college student with credit card debt who spends his money on merchandise designed for 12-year-olds.

Less than a year ago, I remember reading about the hysteria around the release of the fourth Harry Potter book. I remember smiling smugly, amused that all these people would act so crazy over a kids’ book. I was safe in my ivory tower, surrounded by books with small type and complicated words.

Now, I’m one of those hysterical people. I check the Harry Potter website everyday for news about the fifth book’s release. I bite my fingernails while waiting for the movie trailer to download online. I’ve heard all the latest theories about future Harry exploits. But worst of all, I want to be Harry Potter.

That’s okay though because so does my mom, my grandma, my sister, my boyfriend, my best friend, my eye doctor and my land lady. The cab driver who took me home two weeks ago wished he was Harry Potter, and one of my professors even secretly confided that he would love to play Quidditch.

I’m sure a fine line exists between a strong imagination and slight insanity. But if I’ve crossed the line, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.

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