Ah, this is where I belong, among my own kind. My people. My fellow nerds.
As I enter the store, I see that many of their outfits match my own: long capes, pointy hats, mystical wigs, wands at the ready. A few of them are even more daring in choosing to dress as the main character’s familiar – I spot several human-sized toads hopping about the place, which I’m sure will grow old real fast.
The midnight book release party will be in full swing for the next 12 hours, so I had dedicated my itinerary to memory before taking the plunge. I get my face tattoo right away, to proudly display my allegiance to the main character’s place of employment: we magical accountants need to stick together if we are ever going to survive the machinations of those dastardly marketing warlocks.
The perpetual scavenger hunt the store holds at each of these parties is notorious for being nearly impossible for mere cosplayers to complete: the employees assigned to that event constantly move items around the store in a re-enactment of the Witches’ Shell Game from Book 10, Chapter 301. I never win these things, but they’re good exercise.
There are too many activities for me to do them all and I start feeling a bit famished by hour 9.7, so I succumb to the 45-minute-long wait at the coffee bar line. The poor cashiers and the drink-and-food makers are on autopilot, going through the same motions for each customer with a grin (I believe literally) welded onto their faces as they sprinkle magic onto each cup and dish – they nearly vault the counter to kiss me when I order a pre-made sandwich and a bottled drink.
Zero hour approaches – something changes in the air as the employees gather their charges into orderly lines, preparing for the mass purchasing to commence. We wait in semi-restrained eagerness, waving our glow sticks as we anticipate the adventures to come in Book 22 of this neverending series. The countdown begins – the starting flare is fired – and we’re off! Never has consumerism felt so educational as my nerds and I buy the tomes to improve our reading skills while simultaneously answering the lingering question from the end of Book 21: will our hero ever find out her true identity? Will we?!?
A customer dressed as a warlock in a costume dating back to Book 5 finishes his purchase, hops on a broomstick, and flies out of the store – interesting. His silhouette against the full moon makes me realize that yes, it is now after midnight and I have to be at work by 8:00 this morning. No matter: when it comes to service from the fans, duty calls.
I reach the front counter and buy the book, then am rushed out the door by the employees with madness in their eyes as they prepare to clean up the effects from the literary tornado that has nearly emptied all the shelves – my heart hurts for them, but the best I can do is to leave; I have my own mission to accomplish. I make my way home, down two cups of coffee, and finish reading all 936 pages just as the sun begins to rise.
I close the book in finality and leave for work, not even bothering to change my clothes for it. As I sit in traffic, the only thought that keeps me awake is: I can’t believe the author killed off the comic relief!
Makes me so mad at all the injustice in the world.