For Christmas I got my niece and nephew tickets to Broadway’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. They grew up with the books and love them. My nephew (who was 11 when the first film was released) so closely resembled movie Harry that he was frequently asked for autographs, so Harry’s very definitely a touchstone of their childhoods. The performance was a couple of weeks ago, and they came back from New York with effusive praise for the show and pins representing their respective houses (Ravenclaw and Gryffindor).
“We would have gotten you a house pin, but we didn’t know what yours is,” they informed me.
I also did not know what my house was. I have a less-chummy relationship with Mr. Potter than they do. The first book in the series came out around the time I was on tour for my essay collection, Alec Baldwin Doesn’t Love Me & Other Trials from My Queer Life. It was a long tour, covering 25 cities, and on every single flight I was surrounded by people—both children and adults—reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. There were piles of it in the airport bookstores, and of course, every shop I read at was filled to bursting with it and it was all anyone wanted to talk about, which is slightly annoying when you’re trying to promote your own book.
I tend to view things that are overwhelmingly popular with the public with suspicion, but on my last flight of the tour I broke down and decided to see what all the fuss was about. I liked Harry and his world well enough, but not enough to read his subsequent adventures. And frankly, I was a little weary of his omnipresence.
Still, it’s impossible to be involved in the world of children’s literature, as I am, and not pick things up by osmosis. Also, I have friends—many, many friends—who are positively wild about Harry. So I know about the Sorting Hat and the houses, and have even been known to toss out a “Fifty points to Hufflepuff!” from time to time.
But until now, I did not know my house.
I’ve had my suspicions. I was fairly positive I was not a Gryffindor, mainly because they seem like the people who irritated me most in school, what with all of their cup-winning and coming out on top every time nonsense. I gravitate more towards the underdogs and unpopular types. Logically, I felt, this meant I was probably a Slytherin, which was fine with me because, frankly, they seem the most interesting. But Hufflepuffs are into eating and always having enough socks and scarfs, which I find sensible and appealing, and the Ravenclaws from what I can tell are into learning things and, I don’t know, riddles and stuff.
It was time to find out once and for all.
There are lots of sorting quizzes out there. I started with the original, the one on the Pottermore site. After dutifully answering questions about my worst nightmare and favorite magical creature and which road I would choose from among four possible options, I sat there intoning, “Not a Gryffindor, not a Gryffindor, not a Gryffindor,” while the Sorting Hat did its thing, until with a burst of confetti I was informed that I was a Ravenclaw. Because I like to have multiple opinions, I took several other quizzes, ranging from ones with dozens of questions that claimed to be based on psychological principles to simple ones asking me what my favorite color and fruit and animal are. Every time, I came out a Ravenclaw.
I suppose that’s that, then. You’d think it would feel good to know, that I would be knitting up a scarf in blue and bronze (my house colors, at least in the books, which I will defer to over the Hollywood versions) and reading a biography of our founder, Rowena Ravenclaw, and finding out what she was all about.
Mostly, though, I’m wondering why the hell the house mascot (again, in the books) is an eagle and not a raven. And now I feel obligated to read the books and find out if I’m happy being a Claw or not, which frankly I’m a little peeved about because if I’m going to get dragged into this whole Potter thing, I’d rather be hanging out with werewolves or learning spells to defeat the dreaded Bellowing Orange Belchbeast, which I think are more Slytheriny things to do.
But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there are lots of ways to be a Ravenclaw. Maybe it’s like this trend for categorizing gay men as animals. I kind of wandered around in Bear territory for a while, then scampered around as an Otter. Now I’m told I’m actually more of a Wolf, although I’m unclear exactly what that means apart from having grey hair and being Of A Certain Age.
Whatever. As long as I’m not a Gryffindor, it’s all good. Fifty points to me! ▼
Michael Thomas Ford is a much-published Lambda Literary award-winning author. More Michael Thomas Ford