Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Quidditch for Muggles

According to the books written by J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter was born on July 31st, 1980.  That would make him 30 years old this year, which I thought was a cause to celebrate.  The fact that his birthday fell on a Saturday, and that many of my friends were anxious for another one of our Harry Potter-themed parties—and none of us could wait until the November release of the new movie—it just seemed a good excuse for a silly, wizardly summer party.

And with the weather so nice, who could resist a game of Quidditch?  Now obviously none of us have any magical powers, and the ability to fly evades us all, but many muggles have discovered a way for us to play a grounded, magic-free version of the game.  I scoured the internet for Muggle Quidditch rules that seemed fun.  I found versions where the Snitch was a Frisbee thrown over the playing field, or a flag kept near the Keeper that needed to be captured, or simply a runner dressed in yellow.   The rules varied.  The balls varied.  It was quite the exercise in perseverance just reading through all those websites!

Eventually everything was decided and my friend Tori suggested we play at Sugar House Park.  She and our other friend Katie got there early on the day of the party and saved us some space to play.  Brian and I showed up a little bit later with my siblings and Quidditch gear in tow and we began to set up as guests arrived at the park. 

My friend Trina called and I escaped the group and ran towards the street so I could try and spot her and lead her to where we were.  While I was gone, an odd teenage girl approached the rest of my group accompanied by an older man and woman.  Apparently the conversation went something like this:

Girl:  Hey, are you guys here for the game?

Silence.  Awkward silence.

Brian (with only the slightest hint of embarrassment):  Um… we’re here for a Harry Potter thing…

Girl:  Yeah!  Quidditch?  Me too!  I’m the other team!

The three strangers left as Trina and I approached.  Brian asked if I knew them as I was asking who they were.  Everyone seemed a little uncomfortable about the whole thing, and it got worse when the girl returned asking if some of us could help her bring a picnic table to the same spot we were in. 

Of course nobody moved.  I said I’d go and glared at those around me.  Trina and my brother Daniel caved in.  As we followed a few steps behind her, we whispered emphatically to each other:

Me:  Why does she want to bring the table by us?

Trina:  This is so weird… did she somehow find the event on Facebook?

Me:  No, it was private.  She couldn’t possibly have seen it.

Daniel:  Maybe someone else invited her.

Me:  I don’t think so.  She’s so weird.

Trina:  Um, Jack, she can probably hear us.

Everyone stopped and looked at the girl.  We’d reached our destination by this point, and if she heard anything she wasn’t letting on.  I realized that I needed to investigate the matter through the art of friendly conversation.  This is how that went down:

Me (in a joking tone):  So what’s wrong with the table here?  It looks great to me!

Girl:  Well, the tournament is over there!

Me:  Oh… sorry, what are your guys’ names?  Mine’s Jack.

Man with Girl:  I’m So-and-So, but I’m not on the team.  I’m just their photographer.

Woman with Girl:  And I’m just her mother.  She’s the one on the team.

Me:  What team are you on?

Girl:  The Utah Hex. We’re just a community team though.  Are you guys a school team?

Confused looks are exchanged between me and my friends.

Me:  I don’t think we are here for the same thing.

Girl:  You’re not here for the Quidditch match?

Me:  Well, we’re here to play Quidditch, but just as friends.  None of us belong to an actual team.  We’re just here to be silly.

Girl:  But it’s not silly, it’s a real sport.

We soon had a crash course in the very real and unsilly Utah Quidditch Organization.  As other players began to arrive, we learned that there was a scheduled tournament there that day at the exact place in the park that we had chosen.  Some of the players went so far as to leave us their card and explain how we could form our own team in the league.  Once they started measuring out their field, painting lines, and erecting Quidditch hoops, we took our cue and skedaddled.

Suddenly we were embarrassed to be playing in sight of actual, dedicated Quidditch players, so we found a new spot hidden in the trees.  Finally enough of my friends had arrived and we played for a good little while.  I was Seeker the first round and boy did I regret it!  My brother Daniel was the Snitch, and Brian’s sister Courtney was the Seeker for the other team.  She and I just ran around and around chasing Daniel all over the park while the others played.  We had no idea what was going on in the game, Daniel was impossible to catch, and worse of all, he ran off right by the real players!  How embarrassing!  I felt like such a fool chasing after my brother while these uniformed athletes stared at us mid-stretch. 

Eventually it came time for Brian and me to sneak off.  The rest of the activities would take place at the Clubhouse of our apartment building, so I needed to do some last-minute decorating and Brian needed to start cooking our Harry Potter feast.  As we were driving off, we noticed a team all decked out in red heading toward our group.  Brian called his sister Amy to get the scoop, and she informed us that some of the teams needed alternates and wanted to know if any of them wanted to play!

So while Brian and I were back at Citifront Apartments slaving away, our friends were all playing in a real Quidditch game with a referee and fans and everything!

My brother Daniel loved playing Quidditch!

My friend Jenna (right) has dreamed of playing Quidditch her whole life!
Kelsey (right) was recruited by the team after the game!  They loved her!

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