Part One: Thursday
The Journey from Gate A24
My journey to Salt Lake City was pretty uneventful, but this is a good thing when it comes to air travel. I did have an anxious moment as I went through security at the gate in Kansas City. As usual, my person was searched. No sweat. But I was a bit worried when they asked to do a “wipe test” on my backpack. Inside my bag was a certain, uh, controlled substance. Would it come up on the test? Much to my relief, it did not. Then they decided to go through my luggage. I think the security guy had a bit of a chuckle when he came across my Orlando Bloom t-shirt. Finally, it was decided that I wasn’t a threat to national security nor was I carrying illegal drugs. Heh.
The flight to Denver was so pleasant I didn’t even realize when we took off. I finished the game I was making for the line party--87,000 Galleon Pyramid--which many of you may notice we never played. Oops. I was not looking forward to my three-hour layover in Denver, but I passed the time watching the French Open and sharing a drink with a group of women who were, um, wearing comfortable shoes.
My plane boarded on time but sat on the runway for what seemed like forever. I was going to be late. I tried to call Emily to tell her, but I had killed my cell phone by leaving it on during my first flight. We took off about 30 minutes late and had a fairly turbulent flight over the Rockies. I passed the time listening to the PoA score on my precious iPod.* We landed without incident, and I stepped off the plane and thought, quite fittingly, “Oh my heck, I’m here.”
The Advanced Guard
I strode through the terminal as fast as my feet could carry me. I saw the escalators and knew wahlee_98 herself would be at the bottom. I had been waiting to meet Emily for months and was happy that we would have our first meeting to ourselves (and gaidin_prime's camera). I took a deep breath and stepped onto the escalator. By the time I reached the bottom, my heartbeat was racing. I walked through the security gate and nervously scanned the crowd for Emily. She must have spotted me first because a blond girl in a purple HP shirt was bounding toward me. It was Emily! We shared a big hug. I’d describe it better, but it’s sure to make the DVD.
And then the nefarious plot unfolded. Emily drew my attention to a line of people behind her. At once, they each held up a piece of paper. The result:
To quote angua9, I was “surprised into silence.” And yes, this was probably one of the few quiet moments I had all weekend. But what you all might not have realized was how touched I was. Thanks to everyone for that moment. It was really special.
I rode with Emily back to her house (I was even more shocked that so many people showed up for my arrival when told they were in the middle of watching PotC). We recounted the story of how we became online friends to Kirk and dianora, but I haven’t the time to tell it here. We took a slight detour down down Redwood Road (for obvious reasons) and arrived at Emily’s to find the rest of the group waiting
First we had to make a quick pit stop at the hotel. People needed to get prepped for the line party, and Kirk and I needed to check in. Susan asked if either of us would be willing to give up our ticket to the midnight show so that her daughter could join us as well. I think we both laughed and suggested she call Emily. As usual, Emily came through, and much to my delight, Mini-Angua would be joining us for the midnight show! In hopes of bribing the mysteriously KEWL Emma to be my friend, I showed her my precious iPod. It must have worked, because by the end of the weekend she was striking up conversations with me. Such is the power of the iPod. Had I known then what I know now (that she was the evil mastermind behind the nefarious plot at the airport), things might have been much different between us.
Aboard the ROXmobile
As is the case with any large group, it took awhile to round up everyone. During this time, piperx arrived with her husband and adorable daughter Amelia. Somehow, we resisted Amelia’s veela-like spell long enough to get the car situation figured out. We would not be so lucky the next day at lunch. But I digress.
Eleuthera and I decided to ride in connielane's ROXmobile. I confidently proclaimed: "I'm a good navigator," and was rewarded with shotgun. This, kids, is what we call foreshadowing....
Pam had prepared a ROXin' CD, so we lip synched, air guitared and head-banged our way down the interstate. I blame the combination of Freddie Mercury's killer Bohemian Rhapsody vocals and the confusing guidebook directions ("stay in the right-handed left turn lane") for what happened next. As you may have guessed, we got lost. To be more precise, I had us turn the wrong way off the interstate. But thanks to this slight navigational mishap, we had twice as much time to ROX out. Thus, we got to listen to I Believe in a Thing Called Love (The Darkness) and Carry On Wayward Son (Kansas) as well. Good times, good times.
After our slight detour, we arrived at the theater around 8 pm. I was completely shocked by how long the line was already. I don't recall who said it first, but someone remarked, "I can't believe there are bigger Harry Potter geeks than us." Word, yo. Word. To put it simply, there they were TONS of people waiting inside and outside the theater. It was quite a site to behold. Magical, if you will.
The Line Party
We found Emily and the rest of the gang and hunkered down for our four-hour wait. prettyveela had sent Emily some promotional HP goodies to share with us, and they were great fun. I immediately snatched up a Gryffindor tattoo and Knight Bus Lego set. I convinced Eleuthera to get tattoo as well, and we sped off to find a bathroom.
This adventure took longer than I anticipated, as important tattoo placement decisions had to be made. I decided to display my house pride on my no-longer-bulging deltoid. Eleuthera opted for more scandalous placement (let's just say her Hippogriff ended up in a VERY appropriate place). I then changed into a special shirt I had made in honor of W.A.I.L. (sorry Weasleys, in my case it stands for the Wahlee and Angua Idolatry League). We returned to the group and showed off our new body art and couture. Eleuthera's tattoo placement was received with much laughter, and I think Emily and Susan liked my shirt. Oh who am I kidding? I bet those two egomaniacs loved it. ;)
Then I felt a slight lurch in the region of my stomach that I didn't think had anything to do with excitement. With no Orlando Bloom look-alikes in sight, I could only attribute this lurch to hunger. Liralen and Pam felt the same, so we traipsed off to the food court and grabbed some pizza. Susan and family were also there. We chatted about various things while waiting, the upcoming Lemony Snicket movie adaptation among them. I think it was sometime during these conversations that I spotted the Dance Dance Revolution game and expressed my desire to play some point during the weekend. I wish this was foreshadowing, but it's not.
I ate my Connie's Pizza in about 2 minutes, slowed only by the occasional need to breathe. Then I fell upon my Legos and began putting together my Knight Bus. While I was hard at work, a strange** woman approached. Here was our encounter as best I can remember:
Strange woman: "Kansas City sucks"
Me: *look of bewilderment* "Huh?"
Strange woman: *flips Gryffindor scarf over shoulder, puts hands on hips*
Me: *still puzzled*
Strange woman: "It's me! Lilac!"
Me: *jumps up and gives her a Big Hug*
Yeah, so I totally didn't recognize lilac_bearry right away, which surprised me. But it was the Kansas City comment that threw me off (apparently, Kirk had put her up to insulting my two sports towns, KC and Chicago, though she forgot to mention the latter). Anyway, yay Krista! I have no idea what we talked about after our hilarious exchange, but it was great to finally meet her. She's as wondeful in real life as she is online.
I wandered amongst our group for awhile, admiring people's costumes and encouraging Ginny (susy_gwen) to kick some Draco (Emily's brother) butt. I wandered too close to a certain person and overheard a CRAXed out theory. Apparently, the reason JKR killed off Sirius in OotP was because they had cast Gary Oldman to play him. Had it been Hugh Jackman or Pierce Brosnan, it would've been someone else. Um yeah, wutevre. This live CRAX soon spread throughout our party like pinkeye in an elementary school.
And then I busted out the, uh, "printouts." You see, being the wonderful and caring friend that I am, I brought this rare form of our favorite controlled substance for Susan, thinking she had been without any for nearly a week. At first my offerings were being enjoyed in small groups. But at some point, Susan ended up reading it aloud while the rest of us sat around her in a large circle her inhaling it second-hand. For a few in our circle, it was a their first exposure, but for most, it was just another sad day in the life of an addict.
Others have already told you how Susan tried to keep her daughter away from the printouts, but it is such a classic moment, I'm going to make you relive it one more time:
*Emma glances over her mother's shoulder*
Emma: "Read it louder, I can't hear."
Susan: "No, honey, this is bad for you."
Around 10 pm, they started letting our line into the theater. Our party filed in to chants of "Dobby! Dobby! Dobby!" That house elf just creates a buzz of excitement everywhere he goes.
The Second Wait Begins
Thanks to the efforts of some "large, loud, aggressive people who are willing to ruthlessly trample the small and meek," we were able to secure seats for all 87 million people in our group.
Having secured seats, we waited...again. Like the true social butterfly that I am, I milled around quite a bit. I set-up plans to get everyone in our group to sing "Happy Birthday" to Emily at 12:01 AM. I employed Krista as my "point man," which in this case meant I was going to literally point to her when we should start to sing. Word of this plan spread like, you guessed it, pink eye in an elementary school.
I chatted with Susan about when we planned on hooting and hollering during the movie (R/H moments, of course, along with the pumpkin chop). Her suggestion during the line switch: "Ron? Was that you?" Since we sat so far away from each other, I have no idea if she actually said it during the movie, but it was funny anyway.
Emily then introduced me to the kewlest family. They had some of the best HP costumes I've ever seen. The father was dressed as Lucius Malfoy, complete with a snake-head pimp cane. His cane even had a sword hidden inside. His wife looked adorable as Molly Weasley. She had knitted (errr crocheted?) a wrap that looked JUST like the one from CoS. Their daughter was Moaning Myrtle (toilet seat included), and their son was a knight in shining armor. No, not Ron, Sir Cadogan!
Then I played some HP Tribond with Joie, Susan, Krista, Ree, Marla, and Susan's daughter. (We were given three HP characters and had to figure out their common bond.) Joie had brought a bunch of Tribonds that she had used in the thread at FAP. Some of them were really tough! Much to my chagrin, I was probably the worst player. Krista kicked major butt, while Susan was a huge disappointment. Canon-queen? As if! Maybe the week away from her computer drained her powers. *shrugs*
Midnight was approaching, so I decided to make my pre-movie bathroom and drinking fountain run. It took me 15 minutes to find the ONE free drinking fountain in the entire complex. It was good exercise though!
When I returned, the theater was absolutely overflowing with excitement. At some point and for no apparent reason, I grabbed Dobby and hoisted him into the air. Another "Dobby! Dobby! Dobby!" chant quickly began. After things calmed down a bit (relatively speaking) I felt it was the opportune moment to bust out yet another rare form of our favorite controlled substance...
*insert back here*
To my surprise, they ended up causing quite a commotion. Even people in the rows behind us (who were not in our group) wanted to know what the tizzy was about. They were passed up and down our rows, pictures were taken, and then finally I got them back. I would've eaten one, had Kirk not shared some Kit Kat. By the way, thanks for that Kirk. With the CRAX safely returned to my bag, it was almost Time.
Now technically this happened on Friday, but I will put it here. My watch "struck" midnight, I glanced at Krista, and she got the point. Soon, all the wahleeconners were singing "Happy Birthday" to Emily, and as far as I could tell, the entire theater eventually joined in. Kirk and I made her stand up and she blushed--hard. It was a great moment. For me, it was one of the weekend's greatest moments.
To be continued...
* I would just like to say that I, unlike some people, did not get my iPod and in a morally ambigious way.
** In this instance, I am using the word "strange" to mean "unknown or unfamiliar" rather than "odd or queer."
x-posted to redwood7