I now have it in my grubby little hands

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For the record: I know that technically, the Harry Potter series is intended for children. However, as a friend astutely pointed out earlier today, at its core, this is a coming-of-age story; it's something that readers of all ages can relate to (and it gives you an excuse to say "bildungsroman," which is always fun). It's also a classic story of the struggle between good and evil, and making the choice between what's easy and what's right. It may be "just a kids book," but it's an enjoyable—and, hell, I'll say it—well-written one.

Of course, none of this really justifies my sitting on the floor of a Barnes & Noble for seven (yep, seven) hours this evening waiting for the final book's release. That's just because I'm kind of obsessive.

And, dear readers, not only did I wait for seven hours, I also wore a T-shirt (made for me by my sister-in-law, who also waited with me, along with our friend Julie) that says "HP 4-EVER" on the front, and has pictures of the first six books on the back.

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See? Obsessive. Also, nerdy.

There was a pretty large crowd at our B&N (on 86th Street between Second and Third Avenues); like many other bookstores in the city, they were hosting a "Midnight Magic" party, complete with balloon-animal--making clowns, a face painter and tons of costumed children (and adults) running around. We arrived at 5:30, got our wristbands (which allowed you to get in line right away) and proceeded immediately to back of the store to line up. We were the second group there, behind a mother with her tween son and another group of twentysomethings—one of whom was wearing a shirt with the slogan "Republicans for Voldemort." (If you don't get why that is awesome, you may as well stop reading right now.) Even the employees got decked out for the occasion: Several were dressed as Hogwarts students, while one particularly enthusiastic bookseller was dressed as a witch, complete with cape and pointy hat.

I was expecting more fanfare, but the crowd was fairly subdued for a good portion of the evening. The Midnight Magic festivities didn't start until 8pm, but even once they did, most people seemed intent on keeping their spot in line. Given that the lines stretched around the entire first floor of the store and out onto 86th Street, I can see why. The store raffled off a basket full of Potter goodies and a poster; even this didn't get the crowd too riled up.

That all changed, however, at about 11:40pm. Call me crazy, but the collective mood shifted from "Omigod, I'm so freakin' tired" to "Omigod, we're getting the book in 20 minutes!" At this point, people started to stand and gather their stuff, and at 11:45, the line was moved up to the cash registers. Every single register was open, and the first ten people in line (which I missed being a part of by one person, dammit!) were lined up. The countdown started from the five-minute mark, and once we reached 15 seconds, everyone chanted those seconds together. And then, at exactly 12:01am, the entire store erupted in cheers as the first books were sold. I think I technically got mine at 12:04. Once we left the store, we saw how long the line had gotten: It now stretched around the corner onto Second Avenue. Pretty crazy.

So now I have the book, and yes, I'm one of those assholes who skipped straight to the end (as promised, no spoilers) because I won't have time to give it my full attention this weekend. But, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to at least get a good crack at it.

And many thanks to the staff at B&N for putting up with all of the crazy fans tonight. You guys did a hell of a good job.

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