TBT: The Boy Who Lived

Remember that moment?

Remember the moment you read the first chapter of the first book of the Harry Potter series?

Of course you don't.

You were like ten.

And that was a long time ago.

Or maybe you were finally convinced to read them because everyone else had already read them and although you think you're a rebel, you're really not.

My mom was super way ahead of the curve.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but she was able to jump that bandwagon after only the first two were published.

Even then, however, her review was luke warm. She loved them, but she thought that there were a lot of derivative ideas [Star Wars and Lord of the Rings in particular] and because it wasn't one of those "You Have To Read These Now" situations and I was almost but not quite in my twenties and particularly deaf to everything my mother said, I didn't bother.

Children's stories.


I didn't get into them really until the fourth book came out.

Summer of 2000.

I know this exactly cause I was working in Walnut Creek and my soon-to-be step son was very excited to get it. The news was filled that day with young kids flooding bookstores to get their hands on "The Goblet of Fire" and although I was right around the corner from a giant Barnes and Noble, I was a little worried that I was gonna have to spend the night in line.

Turns out Walnut Creek isn't as progressively cool as the rest of the word (A thing I could've told you back in the eighties) and the shop was virtually empty of cosplaying tweens.

I got the book and felt very excited that I got to be the one to bring the book home.

Parenting is without a doubt the most vicious form of popularity contest and I had just secured my prom queen tiara.

(Or diadem if you prefer)

My ticker tape parade didn't last long and the book sat unread for a very long time.

Long enough for me to read the first and the third installments. (We were missing the second one for some reason) I eventually read the fourth book long before my soon-to-be step-son got a hold of it and like . . . well . . . the rest of humanity . . . I gladly secured J.K. Rowling's morphine drip into the closest vein I could find.

She took a long time to release the fifth one didn't she?

I know this cause it didn't come out until the day before my soon-to-be step-son became my actual step-son. Summer of 2003.

There's this great picture, and I wish I could find it of all the boys (myself included) sitting around in our tuxes reading "The Order of the Pheonix" 

We had to buy three copies cause no one wanted to share.

And then, of course, you know the rest.

A new book released every two years after that, movies released at the same pace, DVD's released a year after those.

Yes, I own all of it.

Cause . . . you know . . . morphine drip.

And then it was all over.

Story finished, films wrapped, DVD's with discs upon discs of extras, purchased and marathon ready.

I'm so glad we got to be a part of that era. My wife, my step-son, me, the world.

But it has always made me a little sad that my younger son never got to be a part of the zeitgeist. What could any of this possibly mean to him when he comes of age to sit down and begin a journey that was nearly two decades before his time?

It made me think of all the precious things that our parents wanted so desperatley to share with us that we could never experience in the same way.

My mother tried for years to get me interested in a series of books about "The Mushroom Planets" Little boys building a rocketship to save and entire alien world. Such good stuff. I just couldn't do it.

My father put Sgt. Peppers on cassette for me, but I didn't get it for at least a decade after that.

My sons may never know Star Wars (or at least never live in a world where Han shot first), they'll never get the Simpsons (even at this late a date), they'll never know what it was like to purchase concert tickets the day before the show at an actual box office. (In addition to that, they'll never know what it's like to have twenty dollars that can both buy the tickets and pay for the gas to get there)

Case in Point: 1994 I bought Nirvana tickets, at the height of their popularity, for $12, put five dollars in the gas tank of an old Volkswagon Vanagan, bought a pack of cigarettes, illegally, and was making $5.75 per hour in my part time job.

That show cost me roughly four hours of filing.

My step son just bought Katie Perry Tickets, same venue, I won't even mention the exact cost, but he makes $9.00 an hour.

Not including gas or pink cocktails, that show cost him a month's wages.

So much sadness.

But where was I?

Passing pop culture to our kids.

I have been preparing myself for my little son's indifference for a long time now. He will never like my music. He probably won't like my movies. He definitley won't like my pathetically slow and impossible video games.

But books are a bit different, aren't they. (Not including the Mushroom Planet)

Books have a timeless quality about them. 6,000 years and Lao Tzu still makes more sense to me than Tony Robbins. Oscar Wilde is so much funnier than Neil Simon who is so much funnier than Tony Kushner.

At least I hope Kushner's trying to be funny.

If "Angel's in America" is not supposed to be a comedy, then Why? God? Why?

Anyway, over a long half decade, I'd pretty much given up trying to instill my pop culture sensibilities onto my son. He doesn't need me. He'll figure it out on his own.

So when he came home the other day and told me that he has to read for thirty minutes, I played coy and standoffish.

What can I read?

What would you like to read?

Can I read the Hunger Games?

Sure, but it's pretty violent.

How about "The Hobbit?"

Sure. But the letters are tiny.

What then?

How about Harry Potter?

Yeah, okay, I guess, but I can't reach them

[My bad, they're kind of beautifully displayed in our front cabinet with a shelf of their own]

Here. how long do you have to read for?

Thirty minutes.

Do you want me to set the timer?


[thirty minutes passes, timer goes off]

Timer's done. You can stop now. [I look over]

Kay . . . just let me finish this chapter.




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