Jennifer and the Deathly Smelly Books A Million Customer

I read Harry Potter yesterday, all in one day.  And this old woman was there at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday to receive her reserved copy.  And I was at the front of the line, something that has NEVER happened to me before.

Here’s how the evening progressed.  I got there at 8:30, like a total idiot, convinced I would not be able to park.  I figured swarms of black clad Harry Potter look-alikes would have all the best broom parking spots taken.  So my strategy was to arrive early and entrench myself.  Have I ever once claimed to be a genius?

Well, once I was there, it was sort of boring.  I sat in the coffee shop area for a few minutes and tried to read a book I picked up, but I couldn’t really get into it.  My niece was with me, so I offered to buy her a drink.  As I was standing in line, a woman came up behind me, and her BO was powerful, overwhelming really.  She tried to strike up a conversation, and normally I’ll talk to anyone, but it was too much for me.  So I made Kiirah stand in line while I hid from the smelly lady. 

I spent the night wandering around Books A Million with Kiki and her kids, and Kiirah in tow.  John was there with his friend, and he alternately annoyed me and amused me.  At one point, he forced me to eat a Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Bean.  Against my better judgement, I bit into it and nearly upchucked right there in the middle of the store.  Turned out to be vomit flavored; it’s amazing how they duplicated that taste!

There were quite a few people there in costume, and one lady in particular, really stood out to me.  She was dressed as Professor Umbridge, the evil woman who treats Harry so badly in Book 5.  This lady had an amazing pink hat on, bedecked with pink flowers.  She had obviously made it herself in honor of the book.

I finally made my way over to her and complimented her on it.  We chatted for a few minutes, and I was uneasy because she seemed very familiar and knew my kids.  Finally, I touched her arm and said “I’m so sorry, where do I know you from?”

She looked at me like I was crazy and said “I work for your husband.” 

I am sure I looked like I had just eaten a vomit flavored jellybean, I was that embarrassed.  I laughed and laughed and pretended I had been joking and knew it was her all along.  Then I slunk away and avoided her for the rest of the evening.

At 10:45, I was flagging.  Kiki’s youngest had made it to the finals in the costume contest for his portrayal of Draco Malfoy (the resemblance was uncanny!).  I was standing with Kiki, waiting for the final judging when who should come up behind me but the smelly lady.  We were in a narrow space and the smell was overwhelming.  I am not just talking about unwashed armpits.  I am talking about the smell of someone who has been sleeping in her clothes for the last two weeks and hasn’t touched soap this decade.  I mean it was a serious, funky smell.

After a few minutes, it became evident she was going to stand there next to us, so I told Kiki I was going to the front of the store to wait for the line to form.  I headed up there and to my dismay, there was already a long line.  The store had announced the line would start at 11:30 and it was only 11:15.  I was seriously annoyed.  I dropped back to look at a shelf, grumbling and muttering to myself about the unfairness of it all. 

This is my luck though.  I always pick the longest grocery store line.  I never have good seats at anything.  So it was par for the course that I would be at the back of the line, picking up my Harry Potter book at 1:30 a.m.

So you can imagine my delight when at 11:25 the Books A Million people came and plopped a sign down nearly in front of me and told all those people lined up that the line started behind the sign.  Readers, I was number 14 or so, depending on how you counted us all crowded in there.  We were literally shoulder to shoulder.

I had to stand there for 45 minutes.  STand.  On my feet.  CRushed next to people I didn’t know.  It was actually a lot of fun.  We talked about the books and our theories and our favorite characters.  I was next to a couple of weird, nerdy, teen-age girls, one of whom was wearing a shirt emblazoned with Alan Rickman as Severus Snape.  Snape has always been one of my favorite characters.  I always thought he got a bad rap, and I was ABSOLUTELY thrilled to be proved right in my devotion. 

However, my devotion paled in comparison to these girls, one of whom expressed a fervent desire that Mr. Rickman would dump his live-in girlfriend so he would be on the market again.  I looked at her and said “you do realize that he’s around 60?”

“So what,” she said, “he’s Alan Rickman.”  Well, there you go!

Anyway, at 11:45, they dimmed the lights and a hush fell over the room as the books were wheeled up to the front.  The anticipation was a tangible thing, and the crowd became restless.  The nerdy girls were talking animatedly, one of them telling the other she was going to buy a Transformer onesie for her young niece and keep her from becoming too “girly”.  “Yes, Megatron is powerful,” intoned the other girl.  One can only presume Megatron is a Transformer…

Finally, we counted down and at 1, we surged forward to receive our books.  I was number 3!!!!!!  I got my book and rushed out the door, then remember Kiirah was with me, so I had to rush back in the door.  I called her on her cell phone and told her to get out now so I could get home to read.  We were home in record time and I had the book finished by yesterday afternoon.

I have never been so tired in my life!  But it was worth it, the book was fabulous and I am glad she ended it.  Because I don’t think I can ever do that again!! 



  1. merediff
    Posted July 22, 2007 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    um i definitely saw josh at BAM. he & his friend were slightly annoying. his friend tried to pull out a fake wand?, but josh told him not to. this was around the time when the BAM employees told me i couldn’t buy a book. & i had no voucher. (thankfully, wal-mart had over 600 copies. for only $17.78 each.)

    so did you like it?! i have 11 chapters yet. & so far i really don’t like it. which is completely unfair…this is the last one & it’s supposed to be great! but instead, it’s dark, gloomy, & depressing. so not appropriate for children!

  2. Teensy
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Well, getting our book was anticlamatic. We drove to Wal-Mart on Sat around 9am and picked up a copy for $18 bucks. When we couldn’t find the table at first I asked one man and he told us he doubted there were any left but if there were they’d be near the front. There were a bunch, b/c hey, it’s Alabaster! Jordin read it first and had it done by Sun and I have sworn her not to speak a word of it since I’m rereading the others first. 🙂

  3. Gina
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    I found all of my books but the fourth. Found the cover to it. Just not the book. Which means Joe started it and then put it somewhere. Half way through the first one on my way through all of them again. You’ll love the last one Teensy, it was great!

  4. Renee
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Can we talk about the smelly lady instead of this stupid book? There, I said it. I read the first one to find out what the hype was about but was very willing to stop at that point. So many better books out there, but that’s just me…

    Anyway, the smelly lady reminded me of my choir director at church when I was a child. Imagine having to stand still whilst the woman in front of you flails her arms around, positively flooding your personal space with BO. My mother kept telling me, “She can’t help it.” I just wanted to be on the back row.

  5. Kiki
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Renee–The thing is this woman could have helped it–she was clearly one of the great unwashed. And she was nuts, after Jennfer ran off to fight her way to the front of the line and I was watching my miniature Malfoy lose the costume contest, she just started talking away to me and this other more normal person, in a very rude and uninvited way. I am not one to be mean to people, but I found her entire demeanor to be very offensive (smell and all). Be glad you weren’t there!

  6. Mojo
    Posted July 23, 2007 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    My oldest finished the book quickly, then patiently told us everything, blow-by-blow, because we asked him to do so! Like Renee, I’ve only read #1, and just have never managed to get into any of the others, but I’ve honestly never tried. (I am not as well-read as all of you!) The HP movies have kept me satisfied enough, even though I do actually believe JK Rowling to be a brilliant writer. Perhaps I should read #s 2-6, but I am thinking of jumping right into #7. Makes sense to me…read #1, read #7…be done with it!

    So disappointed Kiki’s youngest (whom I believe should be a child model) lost the Malfoy contest. He is soooo much cuter than Malfoy! (I was going to ask in this post about the outcome since our blog’s author left that important point out…so glad Kiki included that in hers!)

  7. Teensy
    Posted July 24, 2007 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    On to book 3. Gina, if my children would no want to eat and be taken care of, I could read a lot faster!!! I’ve been thinking of jumping ahead, but my oldest tells me I really need to update myself! The pressure!

  8. Kiki
    Posted July 24, 2007 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Teensy and Mojo, I’ve read the first page of #1, and I consider myself to be very well read. Harry Potter is not necessarily my cup of tea–not to put down Harry of JK Rowling, the richest woman in England (besides the Queen). However, it is a great phenomenon for getting kids everywhere to read read read. jennifer’s son gave me all 6 previous books and is begging me to read them–I guess I will try, for him and my girls. When I’m done with the 20 or so adult books piled up to read next to my bed. Maybe we should start a H.P. book group–that might get me reading them…
    Mojo, I agree, my baby is much cuter than Malfoy, but he did look the part with his little black robe and green tie–and slicked back hair–although it is awfully thick and kept flopping back down very appealingly. If he did win, it would have been on the cuteness factor, and considering who they gave they prize to, a teenager dressed as Mad Eye Moody (I think that was his name)–it was more the creepy factor.

  9. Gina
    Posted July 24, 2007 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    I have always like children’s lit. Especially weird fiction. My favorite before Harry was the Wrinkle in Time series by Madeline L’Engel. Both of these series really seemed to get into the loneliness of adolescence in a way that never seemed pitiful. They made being strange and somehow outside the group more hopeful and less helpless. Both authors almost seem as if they remember it. Try rereading them with that in mind, might make it a much easier read.

  10. Kiki
    Posted July 25, 2007 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    You know it isn’t because I have any disdain for Children’s Lit. I mean, I grew up reading it! With HP and even Wrinkle in Time, for me it is more the genre–fantasy–I’ve never read Tolkien either–just doesn’t appeal to me. Like I sadi, I will try. I also have a 60-80 page rule. If I read that much and I am miserable, I don’t finish it. Life is too short and their are too many books in the world! I haven’t really even started with HP–like I said, I’ve read the first page It is more of a time issue. I am in three book groups, so…I am gonna try! I swear!!!

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