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Harry Potter Widower

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There are a few things my wife didn't reveal to me before we got married. Her undying passion for the '80s Norwegian band a-ha. Her compulsion to stop into every store she passes that sells handbags. And then there's her obsession with Harry Potter.

She didn't tell me, she claims, because it all started on the way back from our honeymoon, when we had a nine-hour layover in Atlanta. Half an hour in an airport bookstore desperately looking for something interesting, a discounted copy of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone, and just like that, a Harrymaniac (Potterhead?) is born.

The rest of the books quickly made their way into our home. My wife's a fast reader, so she plowed through each of them in one sitting, after which she re-read them all, a few dozen times each. And then, of course, there were the movies. She refuses to own any of them on DVD until all seven are in a deluxe limited edition boxed set (she's already got a spot picked out for them on our bookshelf, next to where the deluxe set of all seven hardcover books is going to go), but if she sees one of them on TV, she must watch it to completion. Plans get canceled, friends get blown off, meals go uneaten, husband gets annoyed.

I'd love to tell you which characters are my wife's favorites, or which chapters of which books she particularly enjoys, or which films she likes more than others. But to be perfectly honest, I don't pay attention. She talks about Harry Potter and I immediately zone out and go to the happy, Potter-free place in my head. As long as I smile and nod every now and then, she seems content. As for the movies, I've sat down with her and tried, really tried, to pay attention to what's going on. And within five minutes I'm either asleep or deeply engrossed in anything else that happens to be nearby. A six-month-old copy of The New Yorker, nail clippers, a dust bunny...doesn't matter.

The only time Harry Potter really enters my zone of consciousness is when I want to watch the Yankees game but I can't, because The Prisoner Of Azkaban is on and she has to watch it for the 37th time. Or I'm waiting for her to get ready to go out to dinner, and I walk in to find her re-reading the last half of The Goblet Of Fire. And then I just get mad at Harry and his friends, that red-headed guy and the girl. You know who I'm talking about.

The last straw for me was when she watched the recently-aired TV special Secrets Of Harry Potter. In case you missed it, it was a solid hour of people who, apparently, get paid to analyze the Harry Potter books and movies. Because, I can only surmise, they have some kind of insight into this stuff that we amateur readers and moviegoers simply don't have.

I say it was "the last straw" as if I immediately filed divorce papers or stayed at a hotel that night or something. What I actually did was shoot her a quizzical and befuddled look every few minutes, which she ignored because she was totally enraptured by the program. And I'm writing this having just returned from my local bookstore to pick up a wristband so she can wait on line at midnight tonight for "Harry Potter And..." um, whatever it's called. I figure our marriage will outlast her Harry Potter obsession, especially since there are only two movies to go, and the filmmakers have to hurry to get them done before the cast looks like the thirty-somethings who played high schoolers in Grease or Beverly Hills 90210.

In spite of my status as a Harry Potter widower, I'm a little sad about the end of the series, mainly because I know my wife is going to have to find a new pop culture obsession, and I fear that the next one may be far worse. This is a woman who, before she discovered Harry Potter, was known to watch up to four episodes a day of Charmed, perhaps the crappiest series in the history of television, and stopped only because she'd seen every one so many times. So after Harry, who knows what's next? All I know is that if it's a VH-1 "celebreality" series, I may have to throw out our TV.