On Thursday we held the first of our "Let's Talk About Harry" events at Anderson's Bookstore in Naperville, Illinois, just outside Chicago. Melissa, Emerson, and I led a discussion with 250 avid Harry Potter fans -- a standing-room-only crowd -- ranging over Snape's villainy, Dumbledore's family, Harry's heroism, everyone's romances, the four remaining Horcruxes, the enormous list of things that have to be tied up in Book Seven, and the possible Meaning of It All. As a former English major, I loved the fact that We kept going back to the text, from Melissa and I reciting the first line of Sorcerer's Stone to a close reading of JKR's commentary on James's death in the interview to the multiple interpretations of "Neither can live while the other survives" (What does "live" mean there? "survives"?). . . . I said at one point that "J. K. Rowling has created a generation of lawyers" given how closely we were analyzing her words, but "Talmudic scholars" may be a better comparison, as we were talking not to advance specific agendas but for the sheer love of the books and words. You can see pictures from the event here and a Chicago Tribune article about it (where I'm quoted twice and it's called "The best book club discussion ever") here.
- Time Melissa's and my flight to Chicago was supposed to leave Newark: 10:45 a.m.
- Time we actually left the ground: 2:40 p.m.
- Number of Continental Airlines employees who recognized Melissa: 1 (HP fan Tom McAfee of the Newark Airport Presidents' Club)
- Books finished on airplane: 1 (Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn)
- Slices of Lou Malanti's (correct name?) Chicago-style pizza I had before the appearance: 2
- Time discussion began: 7:05 p.m.
- Time the lovely Jan from Anderson's slipped me a note asking me to wrap things up, which was also the first time I paid attention to the clock since we started talking: 8:30 p.m.
- Time discussion actually ended: 8:45 p.m.
- Number of autographs I signed: 30 (approximate)
- Number signed as "Hottt Cheryl": 1
- Time I collapsed in bed: 10:45 p.m.
Friday I flew from Chicago to Kansas City for a day of preparation and anticipation: picking up my sister's wedding dress, last-minute Walgreen's and Sam's Club and Hy-Vee runs, a manicure for Lis, a pedicure for me, the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, my final dress fitting. Lissa and I slept in the same bed one last time, and she said it felt like Christmas Eve; she wanted to go to sleep quickly so tomorrow would be here faster.
- Time my alarm went off: 5:15 a.m.
- Time my flight left for Kansas City: 7:45 a.m.
- Page of the copyedited So Totally Emily Ebers manuscript I was on when arrived in Kansas City: 258 (of 293)
- Toenails painted: 10
- Cost of pedicure in Belton, Mo. (excluding tip): $18
- Cost in Brooklyn, N.Y.: $15
- Cost in Manhattan: $25
- Pans of excellent brisket consumed by attendees of the rehearsal dinner: 3
- Time I collapsed in bed: 11:10 p.m.
Saturday Melissa and I were both awake by 5:15 and out of bed by 6. My mother made her trademark fabulous waffles, and our Iowa cousins arrived a little after 7:30 for a superfast game of Killer Klein Croquet: off the post, through one wicket, across the yard to the other post, winner take all. Hans made it first, to Melissa's extreme disappointment; besides the fact that possession of the Klein traveling trophy (an extremely ugly statuette of a frog playing croquet) thus returned to the Iowa Klein family, she wanted to take the trophy with her on her honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta. But soon she and I were off to the beauty parlor for our updos with the other bridesmaids, then to church for make-up and dressing and pictures, and then . . .
The wedding. It began with a slideshow (prepared by Lissa) of she and Joe growing up, first separately and then, for the last five years, together; I heard later that the tears in the audience started with the first pictures of blond little Joe and curlicued little Lissa. The mothers lit the candles, then we four bridesmaids and the flower girl walked in to "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee," and once we stood on stage, Melissa came in to Mendelssohn's Wedding March. She was gorgeous, not only because of her glorious princess-y wedding cake of a dress, her upswept hair, her perfect makeup and natural gorgeosity, but because she truly glowed with happiness and joy at marrying Joseph Jackson at last. My father put her hand in Joe's and our pastor spoke briefly about marriage. As Melissa recited her vows, her clear strong voice grew deeper and more breathless, as it always has whenever she talks about things she truly believes. And I found myself thinking again about the power of language, that as they said "With this ring, I thee wed" -- six simple, common words -- they transformed from two separate people with separate desires and needs to one couple committed foremost to each other, always, for as long as they both shall live. A friend of Joe's read Corinthians 13; a friend from church sang "How Beautiful"; they lit the unity candle, were pronounced man and wife, and kissed with a passion that probably would have been frowned upon by Baptists of generations past. The ceremony was traditional, easy, beautiful, and so happy, tears notwithstanding.
After the wedding, there was a cake-and-punch reception in the church basement for all the guests. Lis and Joe fed each other cake, the best man (Ryan) and I signed the marriage certificate, and after a cheerful hour and a half of socializing, Ryan, Melissa, Joe, and I crowded into Lissa's Mazda for the drive to the Lake Winnebago Yacht Club. (We stopped at a Casey's General Store on the way so Joe could get a Red Bull. Getting married drains the energy out of a man.) A friend of Mom's ferried the happy couple across the lake in her motorboat, so they arrived at the reception in the glitter of the magic-hour sun on the water. And then it was eating, and drinking, and dancing, and toasting, and old friends, and new family, all evening long. The musical highlight of the evening was the father-daughter dance, performed, for probably the first time in the history of father-daughter dances, to "Hey Ya" by OutKast -- a song my dearest dorky father loves, and he and Lissa indeed shook it like a Polaroid picture. The bride and groom departed for their honeymoon around 9 p.m., she in a little black strapless satin dress, he in khaki shorts, flip-flops, and a "Game Over" t-shirt; but still, absolutely, made for each other.
- Number of bobby pins used in my updo: 38
- Hours the updo lasted, through the wedding, energetic dancing, one night's sleep, a strenuous game of croquet, and a 3.6-mile run: 34
- Number of bridesmaids (including me, the maid of honor): 4
- Total number of years my 21-year-old sister has known her bridesmaids (excluding me): 48
- Number of people who think "Maid of Honor" would be an awesome name for a superheroine: 1 (me)
- Minutes the wedding lasted: 37
- Attendees at the wedding: 275 (approximate)
- Attendees at the dinner reception: 216
- Total money made during the dollar dances: $96 (approximate)
- Major League Baseball teams represented at the reception: 1 (the Kansas City Royals, whose logo appeared on the groom's cake)
- Current American League ranking of the Kansas City Royals, out of 14 teams: 14
- Number of people who believe this reflects badly on the couple's chances: 0
And Sunday? Sunday was indeed a day of rest, with the exception of one more epic game of Killer Klein Croquet -- a full game this time, circling all the way around our house, with Dad, Uncle John, Aunt Carol, Holly, Bob, Hans, Megan, and moi conquering some of the hardest wickets since our *last* game of Killer Klein Croquet. My two-and-a-half-year-old cousin Preston was occasionally directed, manipulated, or outright bribed to reposition balls or even push them through wickets, and every one of us ran afoul of at least one especially difficult gate. In the end, though, the trophy returned to the Missouri Klein family, though it will travel rather farther afield . . .
- Number of participants: 7
- My rank after three wickets: 7
- My rank at the end of the game: 1
- Miles the Klein Traveling Trophy will traverse from its current home in Missouri to my apartment in Brooklyn: 1,216
- Next scheduled Killer Klein Croquet match: October 14, 2006, in Prospect Park.