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Monday, March 05, 2012

Harry Potter and the Implausible Scenario




"I'm half and half.  Me dad's a muggle; Mam's a witch.  Bit of a nasty shock for him when he found out."

The character of Seamus Finnegan spouts that line in the movie "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone".  It's a one-line condensation of a much bigger, more subtle part of the book, meant only to say indicate that wizards can be born from two wizards, two muggles, or one muggle and one wizard.  Parentage doesn't seem to matter where magic prowess is concerned.  Of course, this becomes a much bigger issue in following stories.  But that's not what I'm here to talk about.

I'm here to talk about what must have been going through his dad's mind when he found out all this.  I've got two daughters, so these are the things I think about: what if one of them developed psychic powers like Carrie, or turned into a superhero, or was invited to a school for witchcraft & wizardry.

I can imagine myself sitting in my easy chair, staring at this letter that just came down the chimney (despite us having a gas fireplace), turning it back and forth in my hand.  My wife has given me a brief explanation of what it means and that yes, she's a former graduate and can do magic too.

"So, magic is real," I say.  "You can light things on fire and make gold and heal wounds and shoot fireballs.  And change princes into frogs and pumpkins into cars."

They nod.

"And this school is going to teach you how to do all that.  How to make things fly and find unicorns?"

More nodding.

"So unicorns are real.  And dragons."

They nod.

"So if we wanted to, we could pack up the car, buy a ticket.  And go see a real dragon right now."

They look at each other, shrug, then nod.

"So let's go!  Let's see some dragons.  And monsters and giants and whatever else might be out there.  Goblins?  Can we fight some goblins?  Are there cool swords?"

"Well, yes.  Usually you use a wand," my wife would say.  "I have one here."

I stare at the wand.  A nine-inch cherry-wood with unicorn tail hair.  "So you... so you've been able to do magic all this time.  So you could have made the faucets spout gold at any time.  So I wouldn't have to break my back working for Big Roy's Heating & Plumbing for twenty years for the mortgage payment."

She nods.

"And you can put dinner on the table at any time, without having to slave over a cooking stove, instead of me having to wait half an hour while you burn the steak?"

She puts up her finger.  "Actually, you can't just transfigure food like that.  It's not possible.  It has to be magically transported from the kitchens."

I steeple my fingers.  "So magical transportation.  This is essentially teleportation?  You are in one place one second and in another the next?"

They nod.

"Which means instead of a forty-minute commute each morning and afternoon...  Plus the business trip I had to take cross-country on Jet Blue where we sat on the tarmac for eight hours and wouldn't let us go to the bathroom..."

They nod.

"Get out."

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