For my tenth or eleventh birthday, I received a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It had just been published in the United States, and was hugely popular (although having worked at a bookstore the night the final installment was released, I think I know what the Chicago police felt like in 1968), but mostly controversial at the time. Remember the whole Christian right freaking out about Harry being a wizard and there was talk of censorship and book burning and I’m sure Jerry Falwell said something inappropriate? Yeah, that was going on.
I wasn’t a fantasy girl. At all. The entire genre never held any appeal to me. I had plenty of other stuff to read, so I just never read it.
We were, however, hanging out with a lot of fundamentalist Christians at the time (thank you, homeschooling). One of them (actually, not from homeschooling, but whatever) was unbelievably bent out of shape over this whole thing, and took my copy of the book to show her pastor.
(Because he couldn’t get his hands on the most popular book of the year? They’ve only printed 400,000,000 copies.)
I never got it back. I was a little peeved. But mostly scared of what she would say to me if she knew I wanted it back. This was the woman who told us we didn’t need our pumpkins for trick-or-treating, because we had Jesus.
Well, yeah. But if I carried around a hollowed-out Jesus head, that would be a little bit disrespectful, now wouldn’t it?
Yes. She was a little scary.
I didn’t read the Harry Potter books until the summer the final one was released. Because, um, I work at a bookstore. And I was told my employment was based upon being excited, dammit. And if I had to be excited about being charged by thousands of people at midnight, and ringing up copies of the same damn thing until frick-thirty in the morning, then at least I would know what I was being excited about.
It’s been about ten years. I’ve grown up. We don’t see Fundamentalist in Question that much anymore. In retrospect, she was a perfectly nice woman who obviously had never watched an episode of Bewitched. And it’s not like she took my favorite book away or anything (although again, I’m still a little peeved I never got it back.)
The next movie is being released next week, and I ordered a copy of the book from the library, so I could read it again before I see it. I was at the library yesterday, picking up some books that had come in. Guess who the woman at the desk was?
Ah, Fundamentalist in Question. We meet again.
I literally held my breath. Hoping, praying that it wasn’t amongst them. I seriously did not want to deal with the judgey stare that I knew would be coming. It wasn’t. Thank goodness.
So now it actually is in, and I’m scared to go pick it up. I kind of want to call and see if she’s working. Or send my sister to pick it up for me. I think that’s a plan.
Colleen suggested that I just remember that I’m a 21-year-old woman and I can read whatever the hell I want.
I know this. But she still scares me.