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Monday, October 29, 2012  

Get Down, Potter People

I'm pretty sure I've written before about Trash's gift for attracting what we call Randoms. You know, total strangers who take one look at her and instantly decide that she's their best friend and wants to hear all about their lives. I noticed it early on in our relationship. Any time I'd leave her alone in a public place, whether it be a mall, an airport, or a funeral home. I'd come back two minutes later and she'd be deep in animated conversation with a person I'd never seen before. It was never a surprise, because she'd always had too many friends for me to assume I'd met them all. I'd wait patiently for an introduction, or at least for the conversation to wind down, and then when the other person left -- or when we left, as happened more frequently -- I'd ask Trash, "Who was that?" And she'd say, "I have no idea." After the first few times, I just stopped asking.

Our friend Chao even makes a game of it, interviewing Trash after these encounters so he can also get to intimiately know the stranger she just spent three minutes with. It's reflected glory, but still.

It dropped off for a good while there, but now it's back at full strength. Not ideal timing, considering at this time last week we were at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida. There's a whole other level of Randoms there. And unlike with other heavy fandoms, Trash is actually equipped to know what they're talking about most of the time. Which only encourages them more.

The trip was M. Edium's idea. Years ago, as you may recall, we told him that every other year he could have a birthday party, and on the alternate years, we would take him to some continental U.S. destination of his choice instead. Which he loves. After a couple of years, he lost interest in hosting birthday parties entirely, and now we take him on an annual birthday trip. Given his current abiding interest in J.K. Rowling's books (and the movies), his destination this year was a no-brainer.

We also brought our niece Deniece, now almost eleven. Two kids may sound harder, but they keep each other entertained so it generally makes our lives easier, and then we all go back to our respective homes well before they get sick of each other like siblings would. Deniece has heard about Trash's Random phenomenon, but I don't think she fully comprehended it until she saw it in action.

"I'm a Slytherin!" said the woman in black-and-green Hogwarts robes at the main gift shop near the front of the park (not the Harry Potter section of the park, mind you; the whole park). "I really have hair like yours," she rattled on at Trash, "but I dyed it black so I could be more like a Slytherin. We do cosplay. Do you do cosplay? My dad looks identical to Snape so of course he's Snape."

Deniece watched this one-sided conversation in awe. Something similar had happened earlier in the day, with the woman who had given Deniece her henna tattoo in the section of the park called The Lost Continent (translation: mishmash of various exotic medieval settings, although I can tell you where to get a bat'leth) and given Deniece a deep discount so she could chat up my wife, but this was a whole other level of weird. At some point, while the Slytherin girl's voice began to trail off from lack of oxygen, Trash concluded her transaction at the cash register and moved on. She used to humor these people, but with some help from me, she was eventually convinced that life is just too short sometimes.

My brother has red hair! WE CALL HIM RON!" the Slytherin chick bellowed at Trash and Deniece across the store as they opened up an increasing distance between them.

And this isn't even counting the moments outside the park, like the flight attendant who complimented Trash's overhead bin-loading skills and chatted with her about her Invisalign for several minutes during boarding. Or the airline agent who left a line of twenty people to check us in all the way through to home, unsolicited. Or the guy at the pool who invited Trash to come live down there.

They say that one of the most marvelous things about being around children is seeing familiar things through their eyes, which allows us jaded adults to experience them in new ways. And as it turns out, that can still apply when the child is ten, and gets a hint of what her own future might be like someday. Yes, we drank butterbeer and shopped at Zonko's Joke Shop and Honeydukes Sweet Shop, and the kids bought wands at Ollivander's, but the real magic was when Deniece witnessed the power of Trash's gift.

Or, perhaps more accurately, her jinx.

posted by M. Giant 7:25 PM 6 comments

6 Comments:

I often worry that I'm one of those random people. Also, hey, I was in Orlando last week, and at one point, I thought I saw a guy in the airport that looked like you. But it couldn't have been you, of course, because you were in MSP. Except now I'll always wonder.

By Anonymous Wendy Bix, at October 29, 2012 at 8:23 PM  

Wendy - you would NEVER be a random. Trust me, I KNOW. And even if you were, you are charming and cute so I wouldn't mind (but you aren't. So worry not.)

By Anonymous Trash, at October 29, 2012 at 10:12 PM  

I'm a Random Magnet too -- gotten two marriage proposals! I think it has to do with being a Mary Anne type (as opposed to Ginger), i.e. white girl with brown hair, brown eyes, not snooty. Or something. Surely a sociologist has written a dissertation on this kind of thing?

By Anonymous Cora, at October 30, 2012 at 8:05 AM  

@Wendy Bix But I was at the Orlando airport, last Saturday evening and Wednesday afternoon! Now I'll always wonder too.

By Blogger M. Giant, at October 30, 2012 at 4:44 PM  

I used to be the person strangers asked for directions or the time, etc., then I changed my make-up and now I look, I don't know, meaner? Less approachable? And I'm really okay with that. Maybe Trash needs an defensive make-over to help keep folks at arms-length?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 30, 2012 at 5:05 PM  

I'm a Random Magnet, too. It embarrasses my daughter (now 19) that I have these random conversations with people in check-out lines, on public transit, etc. But another friend is very impressed at my "ability" to talk to all these people. Go figure. Unfortunately, though, it often happens where escape is difficult, like on a plane. With people who won't stop talking when I put on my headphones and open my book...

By Blogger Sheri Browning, at November 2, 2012 at 9:20 AM  

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