Welcome Back, Potter
In high school and during my first summer home from college, I worked at my neighborhood bookstore in L.A., where I sold countless copies of the Harry Potter books. I had never read them, however, so I didn't understand what all the Hogwartsian hype was about. Eventually, I was coerced into working the register during our midnight release party for "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." In an attempt to get into the spirit (again, I had never read the books) I donned a witch's hat and a little black dress and applied some green sparkly eye makeup, transforming into a character I called The Female Harry Potter. Needless to say, the numerous bespectacled children waiting in line did not appreciate my creative interpretation. Photographs of my catastrophe are still on display in the store. Mortified, I subsequently borrowed "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" from my sister, an avid fan, and began to acquaint myself with Hermione, Ron and our non-eyeshadow-wearing hero, Harry.
Since then, I've become a full-fledged Potter-phile. Two years ago, I forced my friends to accompany me to a release party at a kids' bookstore in New York that featured live owls. I certainly plan to get into the spirit again tonight when the newest installment, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," is released at midnight. I love that a book generates this much excitement -- dare I compare its following to the cults surrounding "Star Wars" or Halo?
Here are some local stores where you can snag a copy, compete with little kids in Harry trivia contests, bond with other fans or watch devotees fight over dwindling copies of the 672-page tome. In Alexandria, the Del Ray Dreamery is offering a Harry Potter-themed custard called Dementor's Kiss. The Dreamery will remain open until 11 p.m., with staff handing out free lightning bolt cookies to costumed customers. (Sugar + children + Harry Potter = Full-on Quidditch chaos.) Older Potter fans also may be interested to know that the decor of Union Jack Pub, a British-themed bar set to open next month in Bethesda, is inspired by the Leaky Cauldron. No word on whether or not they'll sell butterbeer.
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