Predictive Substitution: Harry Potter

I have a confession to make. One that makes me feel as if I have failed as a nerd. Are you ready?

I have never read any of the Harry Potter books. And I haven't seen any of the movies either. Strange, I know. You can shame me later.

Before I lose all credibility though, I must explain. The Potterverse isn't completely foreign to me. A good number of my friends are die-hard fans. Two of my three kids have read the full series of books; my oldest has read each of the books at least seven times. Despite never reading a single line of Rowling's novels, I am familiar with the stories. I could easily fake being a Potterhead.

I see the memes on Facebook and follow J.K. Rowling on twitter. I know enough of the story and plot twists to get the jokes. As for spoilers? Yeah.

"You're wizard, Harry." He's also a horcrux. Harry was an orphan abused by his aunt and uncle. They kept him in a cupboard under the stairs at 4 Privet Drive. Students take the Hogwarts Express train to get to their school, which departs from Platform 9 3/4ths at King's Cross in London. Wizards shop in Diagon Alley. Gringotts is a bank. Ordinary people (those who do not possess magical abilities) are pejoratively known as muggles. Hagrid is a big dude. Death Eaters are bad. Quidditch is a complicated sport. Hedwig the owl dies. Snape kills Dumbledore, but Snape isn't completely evil even though it looks like he might be. Voldemort is He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Hermione Granger is the real hero.

If Hogwarts was a real place, and my family was sorted into the houses, my oldest son and I would belong in Gryffindor, my daughter in Ravenclaw, and my youngest son in Hufflepuff. If I had a patronus, it would be a mountain goat. My daughter's patronus would be an Arabian horse. And my fiancée’s daughter's patronus would probably be a Shetland pony.

My knowledge of the wizarding world of Harry Potter and all his friends has been gained vicariously, like some sort of geeky osmosis. While I'll never be a Potter expert, I do appreciate what Rowling accomplished and the fictional universe she created. I know enough of the lore to enjoy the fandom without actually doing the reading and watching work of a true fan.

Which brings me back to the memes. While scrolling through Facebook, I stumbled upon a fill-in-the-blanks with predictive text game that had a Harry Potter theme. Harry was known as "The boy who lived," a phrase that also serves as the title of the first chapter of the first book. This line was the source of the meme, asking friends to use their phone's predictive text get a Potterish nickname.

(Your name), (the gender with which you identify) who (finish with predictive text).

When I did it, I got, "Nic, the boy who has a little more time." Which vaguely sounds like a threat, like my time is running out. Or an insult as if I'm not already doing enough. Perhaps, though unlikely, it's a reference to my superpowers, the ability to complete tasks quicker than expected allowing me a little more time. Note: I don't have superpowers.

Some of the other Potter-names were good for a laugh. The woman who has been through the ringer. The girl who was a little confused. The woman who is coming out of the oven. The man who was a little extra.

These quick breaks from reality give us a temporary reprieve from the dreary headlines of school shootings and scandals involving elected officials. We all need a little distraction in our lives, and I thank the nerds on the internet for providing what we need.

It also got me thinking. Rowling wrote in a way to make the reader empathize with Harry Potter. We were meant to experience the world of Hogwarts through his eyes. We should feel what he feels through both triumph and tragedy. What if we were to place our names into the titles of each of the seven books then completed it with a mix of Mad Libs and predictive texting.

Book 1: (Your name) and the (Dream job)'s (finish with predictive text)
Book 2: (Your name) and the (room in your house where you spend the most time) of (finish with predictive text)
Book 3: (Your name) and the (fill in with predictive text) of (your most exotic bucket list destination)
Book 4: (Your name) and the (closest fluid container) of (finish with predictive text)
Book 5: (Your name) and the (fill in with predictive text) of the (your favorite mythical creature)
Book 6: (Your name) and the Half-(fill in with predictive text) (your title of nobility if you were a member of England's aristocracy)
Book 7: (Your name) and the (your biggest fear as an adjective) (finish with predictive text)

My Harry Potterish book titles are as follows:

Book 1: Nic Casey and the Writer's Favorite Team
Book 2: Nic Casey and the Kitchen of the Gospel
Book 3: Nic Casey and the Kids of Kastellorizo
Book 4: Nic Casey and the Water Bottle of Thistle
Book 5: Nic Casey and the First of the Yeti
Book 6: Nic Casey and the Half-Washington Duke
Book 7: Nic Casey and the Insignificant Morning

Consider this my gift of escapism. Take a break from the nastiness of social media and geek out for a few minutes. Feel free to play along and comment what your books would be called. Maybe one of these days, I'll get around to reading the Harry Potter series. I've heard it's great.

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