Saturday, April 19, 2008

Here's Why Parents Shouldn't Have Weird Fantasies Involving Characters in Children's Books

Yesterday afternoon I took Hedgie to her friend's birthday party--Harry Potter themed. I was quite gung-ho, as you can imagine. I knew the party would be wonderful, because this boy's parents are wonderful, brilliant, and fun-loving people and if anyone could pull off a Harry Potter party properly, they could. But I also felt a little funny with anticipation as I stood at my dresser and sprayed Mandragore. See, it was almost like I knew.

We arrived at the party, and who should be sitting in the corner, blowing up balloons, but my lover, Severus. I had a strange moment of vertigo--and I am TOTALLY serious--where fantasy and reality whirled together--wait, I thought in my delusion, did I arrange to meet him here?--and felt a deep blush creep up my cheeks--and Hedgehog turned to me with narrowed eyes, thinking I'm not sure what--

then the world stopped swinging, my psychosis abated, and I realized it was a friend of my friends wearing pale face paint and a glossy black wig. A man dressed up as Severus, in other words, to entertain the CHILDREN at the party. But the power of fantasy and of a costume, however ill-rendered, cannot be underestimated. Even after my psyche righted itself, I couldn't get over the feeling that somehow I was in the corporeal presence of the heretofore only imagined. Never mind that the wig slipped askew over his forehead in a display of disequilibrium uncharacteristic, I feel certain, of the "real" Severus; that ultimately, in the heat generated by six little people with excess energy, the face paint melted in sweat that Severus himself never would have sweated; that this faux Severus confided in me that he'd taken a bit too much cold medicine and was high as a kite; still the illusion never totally evaporated.

I wanted to impress Severus (a harsh and judgmental man, his favor would be gratifying) and wondered for two hours, did he notice how gamely I helped out with the party duties? How heady was my Mandragore? How I managed to be both wry and loving with Hedgehog? And perhaps the depths of experience in my brown eyes? Did he? I couldn't keep from glancing as he went about his own duties as Potions Master--fielding wand pokes from 7-year-olds, passing out bowls of cotton candy, rescuing a box cutter from the birthday boy, and leading class in an advanced potions lesson to see what would happen when vinegar, baking soda, and green food coloring were mixed...

At party's end, Severus lay back in a chair, indeed sweaty, wig askew, high, and bested by the children. Poor, poor Master, covered in a humiliation of sticky cotton candy, taunts and pokes, and one mother's finally fully realized delusion...

28 comments:

Beverly said...

I thought of you this week when I heard that NPR is accepting essays about listeners' favorite fictional characters!

Anonymous said...

This is hysterically funny. And could easily be enlarged into a longer piece - "This American Life" perhaps? I especially like that he was messed up - askew and doped up on meds. 'Cause sometimes it doesn't matter with these things, does it?

XO

Allison

Cecile said...

Priceless. Just priceless. I love this post.

Gig said...

Great story,Leah!! I agree with Cecile it is priceless. One I am sure you will not forget anytime soon.

xo,
Gig

ShutterSpy said...

Interesting and very well written. It's rare for me to fully read a written blog post :)

Leah said...

Thanks for the good comments, peeps--

Beverly, I checked out the NPR essays. They're online, and they're really neat---

Hi Allison--we missed you SOOOO much at seder last night! When were you at one of our seders? god, not since childhood, I don't think. I like the idea of turning this into something longer or doing something with it. Maybe I will.

Cecile--thanks! Do your boys like Harry Potter? Hedgie has mixed feelings...but I think I spoiled it for her a bit with my, er, overenthusiasm...

Hi Gig! No, it's true, this will be with me for a long time. It was SUCH a weird and funny experience...

and Shutterspy! That is a compliment indeed! Thank you--

(Not-So) Cynical Gal said...

Hilarious! You totally crack me up. Happy Passover.

Suzanne said...

Leah, I wrote to you last night too. I offered congrats on this post because it was amazing and also wrote about falling in love with a Roman statue in Art History class. He was a Greek God, but in a museum in Rome. My comment isn't here. Either I didn't save it or you erased it. I was so tired last night I honestly can believe I typed in the word verification and didn't notice when it asked for a second one. Ugh. I'll try to remember it and type it again later.

I was just at the Wild Onion and laughed when I read your comment. Now you know how tired I was! I didn't even think I'd accessed your blog last night, but I did! And I can recall writing that comment.

This post killed me. I love your writing. Hope you're having a good Monday. Talk to you soon.

XO

Suzanne said...

I'm leaving the second one to prove something. I'm so damn tired I don't even remember writing the word verification for the first one, so when I was exiting and realized my comment needing "publishing," I worried I hadn't save it. This is insane. I need some sleep. Now we know what happened to my original comment.

XO

Suzanne said...

There isn't a word verification. How the heck am I screwing this up?

Leah said...

Hi NSCG! I'm glad you laughed. I was worried that folks might think I'd finally lost my mind...

Suzanne--maybe you put the comment on another site? Now random people will read about your love affair with a statue...tee hee...what statue was it?

Beachbum said...

haha. that's too funny. i'm glad you at least had fun at the birthday party. bye.
-Christine♥

Suzanne said...

You deleted!!!!! How will I ever trust you again? You are editing without my permission. Well, okay. It's your blog. But how dare you! Well...you have the "edit forever" tool and you've used it well. Here's what I'm going to do young lady, now that I know your game. I'm going to edit myself. I'll write only one sentence comments. Edit this and edit that! And yes, I'm serious.

XO

P.S. Stop on over to the Cafe. I'll kick your ass clear into the Vegas Room. Without a drink or a latte. Let's see you win now baby. Oh, that's right, I'm a pacifist. Okay. Walk in unattended. But no drink and no latte.

Leah said...

Oh no, I didn't read "I'm leaving the second one to prove something"! that's funny. I would have left it if I'd read it. Sorry, Suzanne. I have an overwhelming need to tidy stuff up...I mean, even in my comment section I have to putter around and tidy...it's my housewifely karma!!!! Plus, now I'm starting to realize that I'm doing the unthinkable--blogging while half asleep.

BBC said...

I've seen one Harry Potter movie, and I wouldn't read one of the books if someone gave it to me.

That kind of fiction is leading people away from reality, we can't fix reality by running away from it.

Mutter, mutter.

Leah said...

BBC, you mutterer, you're missing out. Escapism leads people back to great things.

Suzanne said...

Okay, it's official, no one sentence comments for me! Heee Hawww!

You started typing around the time I sent to bed (aka "I went to bed"). Night Owling...it's insane, isn't it. I still have that damn migraine too. Med didn't help. I hate that because I always have hope!

I saw your comment over on Random Chick's blog and laughed. God I love how you write and think. I wrote too, but on her current post because all the comments made me laugh. I'd hope to get to Amy Winehouse, but unfortunately didn't. I'll have to return when I have more time and my head isn't pounding clear out of my skull. You know I love Amy ~ she's the only one with REAL talent! (God woman, please get your act together.)

Love what you said on my blog to Bindi about driving. I'll comment when I get back from the park because I don't see myself doing much today except sitting. I call these "Ketchup Days!"

Honey, when you get done organizing your house and comment page, can you stop by and help me out? The house is clean and organized, but the closets look like hell! Oh, and so does the garage. We need to have a yard sale. Bring the Peeps and let's make some money for the slop machines!!! (aka as slot machines) God help me. Don't let Gig see that or I'm done for.

Have a great Tuesday and don't eat too much bread!

XO

Gig said...

Ok Suze, you are so done for,I seen that...cleaning out for slot machines...I think maybe I created a...slot gambler. You are already a first class Poker Player!!

Now I must wander over to I.V.'s and Random Cicks. I am watching over 6 high schoolers in the In School Suspinion Room,(ISS). I am all caught up on my paperwork,*smiling*, alas the "children" must do work.

till later

Gig said...

Ok, I know it is not much later, but I just read the vocab list, I love this...I play Scrabble and love new words. On Mangosteen fruit, I drink a product called Xango juice made from Mangosteen. It is supposed to help many different things.

Now, I am off to wander, later

Leah said...

Hi Gig! You can see I'm taking a moment from my procrastination to do a commentsie backsie...hee hee...I wonder what mangosteen tastes like--now I need to try it! I have a wonderful-smelling mangosteen soap from Fresh, but I'm not sure if it really is what the fruit smells like...

Suzanne said...

Hey! What about me baby? I wrote before Gig and she gets all the glory. What am I? Minced meat? *Arms cross, foot a tappin'.* And lady, what are you doing commenting? It's supposed to be worky-worky time in NY. You set the rules and we read um (right Gig)! Unless East Coast time has changed (and I don't think it has), you're cheating (and as a pseudo~psychoanalyst, I'll say this about that..."You're only cheating yourself dear").

Well seeing that you're screwing around on a Tuesday afternoon, why not pop over to the Cafe, and Gig and I will buy you a drink (we don't actually have to pay Jorge, do we?). We'll play some "slops" and then kick some butt in the Poker Room with our winnings. I'll teach you two all you need to know to win lots and lots of pennies. Be sure to bring your family size mayonnaise jar cuz this is your lucky day honey!

And yup, still have that monster migraine, so keep the laughs coming. Laughter produces endorphines, and I need all I can get.

Love ya,
Suze :)

Suzanne said...

Okay, here's my imaginary lover comment.

When I was in college I took lots and lots of art history classes. My favorite was at the California College of The Arts. I loved my professor to death and one day while paging though my door stop size text book, notice a brilliant sculpture. OH...MY...GOD. We were focusing on Rome and watching a gazillion slides...and I was focusing on one man in a museum in Rome. He was a Greek God. No really, he was. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I'd sneak a peek. Then I started looking at home on off days, then Saturdays and Sundays. I realized I was in absolute love with a marble sculpture and in trouble. I remember clearing the day I realized I was in trouble. I thought to myself "Self, he isn't real." My response "Ahhhhhhhhh, screw it!" The semester ended and I had to take my book and memories and skeedadle. I didn't want to. I liked where we were in our relationship. But I successfully moved on. However, that man still remains in my heart and mind. Always will. I was in love with a rock and enjoyed every single minute.

XO

Leah said...

Suzanne, that is a fabulous story. I laughed out loud at your well-told tale of ill-fated romance....there must be a classical story or fable about just such a plight, but I can't for the life of me remember what it is. Thank you so much for sharing that!

Suzanne said...

You are more than welcome.

Cecile said...

Ok, this is in response to BBC's comment.

Harry Potter is a wonderful tale about a boy that overcome tremendous obstacles and hardships in his life. And he finds wonderful and beautiful lasting friendships that helps him cope with his grief of losing his paretns, and the fact that he is never shown love by the relatives that raise him. It is through these wonderful friendships that he is able to grow into a pleasant human being without bitterness and negativity ruling his life. I think the Harry Potter stories are wonderful stories. My boys are way too young to really get into them right now, but I hope that in a few years they will enjoy them as much as I do.

Leah said...

Amen, Cecile.

I thought about BBC's comment all day off and on. Fiction in any form is the very bread of life, in my opinion. But I grew up in a family that treasured books, we lived with thousands of them, and now in my married life, we have our own thousands. Fiction, philosophy, dictionaries, you name a genre, we have it represented on our shelves. And not one of us lives in a dream world or an ivory tower at the expense of usefulness to the world.

Last year I saw an HBO documentary called "Children of Beslan," about the horrible hostage situation in which over a thousand kids, teachers, and parents were held for days in a Russian school--no food, no water, psychologically and physically tortured, many ultimately killed. A little boy described how it helped him during all the time he was imprisoned to imagine that he was like Harry Potter, and that he had an invisibility cloak that could save him...

We all NEED to escape sometimes. And anyway, where are you getting the idea that you're somehow not in "reality" unless you stifle your creativity and dreams? That imagination is harmful?That's a load of crap.

Suzanne said...

Amen.

Like you we have thousand and thousand of books. Rob's mom once said "why not get rid of some of this stuff." I felt injured, but did "organize." Books have been a part of my life from the very beginning. I hope they remain until the end. I love Harry Potter. He reminds me that anything is possible. I don't think creative people ever stop searching for something to think about or inspire them. Ever. And I like that. It means we aspire to something greater. And we are relentless in our pursuit.

Cece, your words were perfect. I agree 100%! Nothing is greater than a book and the journey it takes you on. Nothing.

Love to all,
XO

Leah said...

I still agree with what I said but now feel foolish for getting too riled. BBC, I know you like to rile. Consider me riled. I mean, last night. I'm not as riled today, hence the feelings of foolishness.

Anyway, I used to like to rile people myself, but lately the sport has lost some of its joy...maybe it'll have a renaissance...