Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Like New Year's Eve, Only Better"

As I sat in Chick-fil-A eating a value sized #1 combo, I realized that I had not prepared properly for the night. True, I had only a shallow understanding of Harry Potter, our guest of the night, and I had not properly revved myself up for the task of emceeing a large crowd. But at the moment, this did not worry me.

It hit me at dinner that I had forgotten an undershirt for the night. Oh, and socks. On a night in which I stood inherently unprepared by my lack of required reading and my overall lethargy, I had dropped the ball on even that which I could control.

Thirty minutes later, I used the diaper station in the Borders bathroom to change into my rental tux. I had never used a diaper station in my life. A lot of firsts would occur tonight. Like, wearing rental tux shoes without socks.

Now before your barf on your home row keys, let me put your mind at ease. When you grab a pair of rental shoes, bowling or tux for example, you do not fear the shoe. You fear the people who have worn the shoe before you. The ones with the nastiness. Well, dear reader, I am that person you fear. I have nasty feat, most of which I blame on my years of cross country which induced fungus, black toenails, blisters, calluses, broken toenails, toes with no toenails, stench, and that yellow stuff that accumlates at the base of your toenail for which you have no explanation. For this reason, I did not fear what the shoes would do to my feet because I knew what my feet would do to the shoes.

Still, not a comfortable way to enter the night. Unprepared.

By 8:15pm, I had begun the trivia competition. Teams of 3-5, two rounds, top two teams from each round advance to the finals. Winner take all. I explained the game and started reading the questions. Easy enough.

Until I reach question ten. My supervisor had thought it a good idea to include occassional non-Harry Potter related questions into the trivia game. I knew this is trouble but, like John Buford said before the Battle of Gettysburg, I could do nothing but help this fail. I prefaced the question with some garbage about us desiring them to have a well-rounded education before dropping a question on them about "Lord of the Rings."

The place went silent, except for the crickets. You know, the awkward crickets. Too bad I did not have an undershirt because I immediately began to sweat. As murmurs and frustrations began to come my way, I responded with strength. I stood there like an idiot. I could not have made up a Harry Potter question if I had wanted to. I had no way out.

A little girl sits on her mother's lap not three feet in front of me. She is probably two. She is cute, as two year old girls are wont to be. She also probably speaks with that Tiny Tim lisp; when you're the bad guy, that's just how these things go. After a minute of deliberation, she looks up at me and asks, "Sir, why did you ask a question not about Harry? Why?"

I had nothing to say (though I directed a lot of mental cuss words at my supervisor who had made up the questions). I felt like the Grinch when confronted by the cute little Who girl. She had an innocent, holy question. I had no answer. I was stealing Christmas.

You're a mean one, Mr. Bench.

The trivia did swing back to a high point later in the night, however. A competitor asked me if I could change a question since his team did not know the answer. "I can't do that," I replied. "I'm only a muggle." Inside, I pulled a Tiger Woods fist pump. Relevancy! Coolness! Social Acceptibility! I confess, loved ones, that I was exceedingly proud of this.

Trvia ended well. The final four teams got all five final questions right which impressed me and speaks volumes for the dedication of the Potheads (as if more volumes needed speaking). We broke the tie with a spelling contest. "Alohomora" won it for Team Pigworts.

My night proceeded on smoothly with only three major bumps:

1) I missed the dance competition due to work. Not that I wanted to compete. I just hate missing a chance to get the jiggles out.

2) Due to long line, I did not dye my hair.

3) In an attempt to make conversation with a teenage customer, one of those know-it-all 12-year old types, I asked her whether she believed Snape was good or bad.

"He's good," she replied. "I'm sure of it. I've researched. [pause] What do you think?"

I froze.

"I, uh, well, you see, what happ. . . ."

"You're not that into this, are you?"

"Haven't read a word. [pause] I agree with you though. Snape's good."

[pensive pause] "Thanks!"

And she walked away. I had survived my exposure as a fraud.

Midnight struck. Word on the street was a broom in the parking lot turned into a pumpkin. I have no pictures to confirm though.

We counted down from ten. A great shout went up when we reached one. Boxcutters came out, and the books began to fly. A couple thousand books went out of the store that night, keeping us open, despite our best efforts, until 2am.

They gave me the microphone one more time that evening, a little before HP-Day around 11:40pm. I informed the mob about the count-down and made the comment that tonight "felt like New Year's Eve, only better." That statement met with the loudest pre-midnight response we heard in the store.

Well, I said it, and the mob concurred. Consensus! How then shall we sum up Friday night's Grand Hallows Ball?

Like New Year's Eve, only better.


Anonymous said...

What was the Lord of the Rings question?

Ben said...

I couldn't tell you. I haven't seen Lord of the Rings either. Trying to remember the question is like trying to remember something I read in Greek. Totally different language.

Jonathan said...


I was on board with you regarding the lack of Potter readings, but not to have seen... the... Lord of the Rings...

OK, so maybe I'm exaggerating a bit -- I'm not a die-hard LOTR fan who will skewer you alive for your lack of 'culture' . But have you at least *read* some of Tolkien's work?

Ben said...

OF COURSE, I have read some of Tolk. . . .

Hey, look over there! Harry Potter book 8 AND Lord of the Rings movie 4!!!

(sound of Ben's feet running to door)

(sound of door slamming shut)

Whew! Good save, Humphries, good save. The good ol' "look one way, run another" trick. Works every time. Now they'll NEVER know you haven't read either Harry Potter or Tolkien. Well done, good sir, well done.

Tammy said...

Ben, I'm getting the impression that you have completely omitted the genre of fantasy from your reading. How does an English major ignore a whole genre of literature? I'm disappointed in you. (shakes head)