Ever since my mom read me the first book in 2003, the “Harry Potter” series has bewitched my mind and ensnared my senses (please read that in Alan Rickman's voice).
Since then, I have read the books eight times each, gone to four midnight premieres and seen each movie enough times to say the lines along with the characters and annoy whoever I am watching with.
My bedroom is what I like to call "Hogwarts-inspired deco chic,” complete with a trusty replica of Hermione's wand.
So, when I walked into a Harry Potter Book Trivia Night at a bar in NYC, I felt mentally, physically and emotionally prepared to take home the gold (AKA a $25 gift card to the bar, but whatever).
My three friends and I arrived with the confidence of a young Draco Malfoy and the swag of Hagrid. #Swagrid.
Our team was led to a table at the bar in a separate room. As we eyed the other contestants, we gave each other cocky grins -- these snitches were going down. There was a table of two girls and two boys, a group of five girls, a co-ed team in "Harry Potter" clothing and an awkward first-date-looking couple sitting in our section.
As the MC took the mic, we started to panic. Apparently, the competitors were not just in our section... the entire bar was dedicated to trivia night. There were 90 people there.
We decided to calm our nerves with a few pitchers of Butter Beer (Bud Light) for some liquid luck.
Every team was given a sheet and told there would be four rounds and one lightning round at the end. We were ready.
Five questions later, we felt worthless. We thought we knew our sh*t, ask any of our friends!! We considered ourselves wizards among Muggles, and here we were, feeling like we were fighting off the Cruciatis curse.
The questions were impossible and left us with our jaws open and spirits crushed, but the scary thing was the teams around us seemed to have no problem answering any question.
We found ourselves looking around for other flabbergasted faces, but were met with menacing, judgy eyes. This was humiliating.
Even for the biggest "Harry Potter" fans, it's not easy to remember the spell Professor Lupin used to shoot a wad of bubble gum down Peeve's left nostril in "Prison of Azkaban" (the spell is Waddiwasi, FYI).
WADDI-FREAKING-WASSI, the spell was mentioned once in the entire series and there were people WHO KNEW THAT.
After each round, the answers were read and we would see the joy on other team members' faces as they fist bumped... while we ordered sad pitcher after pitcher.
We struck up conversation with the team next to us, four siblings who said they read every book 27 times each. Seriously. They each read through the series 27 times.
When I asked if I could be a part of their family, they nervously laughed and turned away. We're really close now.
The fourth round was a series of "Who Said It?" questions. We did pretty well, 10 out of 13 answers right! Good for us. The table next to us got them all right.
It finally came time for the scores to be read, and all we wanted was not to come in dead last. So, when our team was announced as the third to last place winners, we cheered embarrassingly loud.
As the MC read off the team names, we started to get nervous for our new friends/family members. How could they lose? As a team, they read EACH book 108 times. Sadly, because this Muggle world is a scary, twisted place, they came in fourth. Yes, fourth.
As we patiently awaited the first place winners, we started to brush it off.
Oh, it's definitely that huge group on the other side. The winners 100 percent cheated.
This was our sad attempt to rationalize with ourselves so we didn't feel like the massive losers we were.
With a quick drumroll, the MC announced THE AWKWARD COUPLE IN THE CORNER AS THE WINNERS. Talk about an ideal first date.
Honestly, looking back on it, this experience was symbolic of the cruelty of life itself. In summary, no matter how much you think you know about something, there will always be someone who knows more.
But, hey, as long as you have friends by your side and you keep the Butter Beer flowing, the failure won't be so bad.
As JK Rowling once said,
It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.
If my new family is reading this: I miss you guys, please adopt me.