Let me get a few things out of the way right off the bat - an admission of guilt, if you will: I am not a Harry Potter fan.

And because I know the Interweb, I know I need to clarify: I do not have anything against Harry Potter... I just am not that into the phenomenon that is Harry Potter.

I have not read a single one of the books... again not because I have anything against them (so don't start sending me nasty emails schooling me on the virtues of the Potter Experience, please), but for no other reason than I Just Haven't. I've seen the movies; mostly because I've been dragged there by my husband and stepson. I found them entertaining but they didn't inspire me to go buy the complete set of books and read on ahead either. I can wait to find out what happens until the next movie comes out. I'm completely in support of people who find the stories fascinating and wonderful and I think it's great that it's inspired a generation of readers and J.K. Rowling is the ultimate rags to riches story so if you want to admire her go right ahead and I have nothing against any of those people who just want to know what happens. I know most of them don't have my obsession for say, Humphrey Bogart or Alfred Hitchcock movies, so I can relate, I just don't happen to share this exact interest. (Last week we watched a special on the Discovery Channel about the Harry Potter craze... did you know there are dozens of authors who have written books about the Harry Potter books? Amazing.)

A few weeks back, an acquaintance at church invited me to her Harry Potter Weekend last Friday. The plan was for all these women to wait in line for the book release at midnight, purchase it, then they would all hire babysitters for their kids, rent a cabin in the woods and drive out there to spend the whole weekend reading, uninterrupted by their children, until they were done.

"Thanks for thinking of me," I said, "but Harry Potter is not really my thing."

"WHAT??!?!" You would think I'd said I would rather club baby seals.

"You should invite The KingofHearts. He loves those books."

Apparently, it was just a girls' weekend as he did not garner the invite.

My child loves to read and I love to read to her. But she doesn't yet have the attention span to sit through reading one chapter of a Mary Poppins book so an 800 page novel, it's pretty much above her head. And truth be told, mine too. I get distracted halfway through a magazine article. I suppose that may change as she gets older and perhaps I will read them to/with her then, but for now, I just can't really work up a ton of enthusiasm for it all.

So what possessed me to go to the "Second Biggest Harry Potter Release Celebration in the US" on Friday night is beyond me. I hate crowds. I am clumsy like a pregnant ox. It hurts to walk. My feet look like giant foot-shaped balloons that have been blown up inside my thongs (which are the only shoes humans make that will fit right now). I wasn't that into the whole thing in the first place. But the Dormouse likes the movies, so I convinced the KoH that we should go because she'd find it fun and for "the spectacle of it all".

And spectacle it was. We let The Dormouse take a late nap and dragged her down at about 8:30 pm. Obviously, I had no intention of staying until midnight to purchase the book but we thought some of the events leading up to it would be fun for a couple of hours. The article I read promised "The surrounding area will be transformed into Daigon Alley" and if nothing else, I wondered how they would accomplish that. Here was Borders' big attempt to "transform" the street:

This was the sum total of decorating. Quite a "transformation", huh? Next time I want to invite out of town guests to my house, I will finger paint a sign, hang it up over my garage and tell people, "Welcome to the Taj Mahal."

We were also promised "magicians, jugglers, face painters, fortune tellers and balloon artists, a unicyclist performing throughout the night; live musical performances, a cape making party and butter beer."

Not entirely untrue, there was a balloon artist, who was so mobbed by people, the balloons kept popping when tiny Harry Potters got too close with their wands. And there was cape making, by clothing shop, Marimekko, where you had to have come pretty much the day before to place your cape order. They would then have made it for you... but only if you paid for it in advance. "We're taking orders for capes to pick up tomorrow," the 20-something man with the sewing machine offered.

Me: "You mean, YOU make the capes? Not the kids?"

Perplexed 20-something: "Yes. What else would we do?"

Not quite the child-friendly event I'd imagined.

We saw no unicyclist (but to be fair, there was no place to unicycle), no face painters, no jugglers. We did see this one hula-hooper, off the beaten track, whom I imagine, just happened to be there and was not a part of the official festivities. Borders apparently had some of these things inside their store but in their infinite wisdom, when they invited thousands and thousands of extra people inside to mill around for four hours, they decided it wasn't necessary to remove the stacks of random displays in the center of and blocking access to aisles before opening their doors so it was all but impossible to walk from one end of the store to the other in under fifteen minutes. We had only our small umbrella stroller and often had to pick that up just to move around in the store. We never found the butter beer, the face painting or the juggler. We did see a fortune teller; the "line" for her went from the back of the store nearly out the front door, thereby blocking more walkways and aisles.

Even the newscasters couldn't find a place to stand.

The last straw was when some college-punk dressed like Harry Potter behind me apparently decided that my waiting patiently for people in front of me to move so I could get around to the next aisle was unreasonable and I was not moving fast enough for him so he placed his hand on my large, obviously pregnant, side and shoved me into the stroller I was pushing and the people in front of me.

"That's it, we've leaving."

I turned to leave the store with The KoH trailing behind me saying, "Just point out who it was, I'll punch him in his eye."

"I can't even tell who it was, there are so many people in here. Just put a curse on him as we're going out."

We headed home with a $7 light up sword, sold by a vendor on the street and I think The Dormouse had more fun with that in the car ride home than she did the whole time were were there. But I guess some people enjoyed themselves: