Happy Valentines, Harry Potter

I’ve written before about my desire and failures to surprise Holly. I love surprises, often can’t fathom why someone wouldn’t, and I project that love onto others. Luckily, Holly does like to be surprised, though I can’t imagine how badly my romantic gestures would go if she didn’t.

(However, I like to think that there’s something in the attraction of our personalities that leads to the eventuality of a love of surprises.)

In an effort to mislead Holly, I gave her a present a day early, preempting Valentines in mutual excitement. Because I worked on Thursday night, I promised her dinner on Saturday.

ImageAll the while, I planned to take her to a showing of Potted Potter, a Shakespeare-Abridged-type show that runs through all seven Harry Potter books in seventy minutes. The show is a two-man affair, a British duo that purportedly began as an impromptu entertainment at a midnight book release. Holly loves live theater in the big auditorium at the Walton Arts Center, and she loves Harry Potter. A perfect surprise.

However, Holly has a such a clear track record with uncovering surprises. In fact, she is such a great detective, I would trust her to solve my murder, provided that she did not commit it. So when we got into the car on Saturday night, I said with a sigh, “So you probably know where we’re going…”

“No I don’t,” she replied. However, I had given her the scent. “Wait – are we going to a play.”

“Dang it…”

“Tell me what play.”

“…so stupid…”

“I’ll just Google it.”

“Potted Potter! We’re going to Potted Potter.”

Neither of us had great expectations for the play. Holly had none. In fact, when I told her of my logic – she loves theater and Hogwarts – she said, “I didn’t love Harry Potter. I only read them because of you.”

I panicked about my date choice as Holly continued. “You gave me the final book. I had to read it, even after we broke up. But I love the books now, trust me.”

The play, though spoiled, was still fantastic. It was simple and hilarious, with a quidditch game played among the crowd and one actor presenting twenty characters. Though it didn’t deconstruct the story or add any understanding of the books, it reminded me of how well Harry Potter caters to children. Much of the audience on Saturday night weren’t yet teenagers, and they laughed the loudest. That made the jokes much funnier.

On our way out, as both Holly and I talked excitedly about the show, Holly remarked on how neat the shirts at the merchandise table appeared. I missed her comment and walked her out the door, offering dessert at a local yogurt shop. “I tell you what,” she said. “Let’s skip dessert and instead go back inside and buy that shirt.”

Holly has worn it all day as we’ve watched the first and second Harry Potter movies. I expect we’ll finish the third by tonight.

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Celebrating Christmas One Party at a Time

Tis the season to have Christmas parties. As I inch closer to becoming an adult (45 here I come!), I find that Christmas is often celebrated more as a elder human. While Santa is often used as a sight gag, presents carry a much greater weight.

Camp War Eagle hosted a Christmas dinner for 150 of our families, most of whom could not afford what my television defines as a normal Christmas. Food bags, toys and gift cards were distributed. I was tapped to be the Master of Ceremonies but in the end was relegated to a sort of Semi-Pro of Ceremonies, as I think most people loudly ate and conversed over my talk show format. Which is fine, because it wasn’t earth shattering comedy.

I led with this:

“What is your parent’s favorite Christmas carol?”

I paused while the translator relayed this in Spanish (half of the families are native Spanish speakers).

“Silent Night!” I shouted. When I looked at the translator with glee, he simply shook he head, dejected. “Really?” I asked. “I thought the humor would translate.”

The show did give a few of our campers the chance to perform music in front of an audience of six hundred, which I think is a wonderful life skill to build upon. However, I did scratch one high schooler’s cello while positioning his microphone. Apparently that horror translates well into Spanish.

(The dinner took place in a large ballroom, The Metroplex, which usually hosts weddings and quinceaneras. As such, it boasted a complex laser light, disco ball and smoke system for raves. Which inexplicably turned on during the cellist’s performance of “Ave Maria.” Spicy.)

Two days later, our organization hosted an appreciation Christmas dinner for our volunteers. While I didn’t host, I was in charge of gifts. After ordering 80 16-oz coffee mugs, I was given 20 dollars for “useless whatevers.”

Little did they know.

20 dollars later I returned from the Dollar Tree, typed out a personality test based on all of the bits and pieces I picked up, and crammed it all into the mug. I will reproduce it below.

World’s Fastest Personality Test
1. Empty the contents of the mug.
2. Get one cup of water for the table.
3. Put the small pill into the cup of water (one that expands into a foam animal).
4. Examine the jumping bean (one that came in a pack of 37 bizarrely countenanced jumping beans).
Is it angry? Give yourself 10 points.
Unnaturally happy? 5 points.
Confused? 0 points.
Concussed? -5 points.
5. Fill out the Sudoku with the crayon.
6. Consume the candy cane.
7. Stop filling out the Sudoku.
Finish a number set? 10 points.
Write four numbers? 5 points.
Attempt it? 0 points.
Skip the step? -5 points.
8. How did you eat the candy cane?
Stirred into hot chocolate? 10 points.
Sucked into a shank? 5 points.
Crunched to death? 0 points.
Don’t like peppermint? -5 points.
9. Check the pill in the water cup.
Is it a dinosaur? 10 points.
A mammal? 5 points.
A bug? 0 points.
Nothing happened? -5 points.
10. Now add all your points.
40-30 – You’re a wizard, Harry.
30-20 – You’re an Aquaris.
20-10 – You’re a golden retriever.
10-0 – You’ll get it next time.
0-(-10) – You’re an artist.
(-10)-(-20) – You’re really bad at this.