Harry Potter vs. MASH

About a week before Thanksgiving, I sat down with my kids while they asked questions to determine which Hogwarts house I would belong.

My oldest loves the Harry Potter universe. She’s read all the books except for the last one (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), finding it nihilistic or overly adult-themed or something. (It’s possible she loves the Harry Potter universe so much that, subconsciously, she has chosen to leave that final installment unread, thereby enabling her to remain suspended in this beloved universe, one final stone still yet to be turned. I used to do the same thing with my favorite rock bands, always leaving one album unpurchased and hence undigested.) My youngest, meanwhile, merely likes Harry Potter, which isn’t quite enough to get her to crack open any of those massive tomes.

I haven’t read them, either, though I’ve flipped through the books a few times and have always come away impressed at how well-written, like on a sentence-by-sentence level, they seem to be. There’s a description in the first one (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) about some benign spirit whooshing down a hallway, causing a nearby suit of armor to quietly rattle, that has lodged in my heart like it was Neruda.

Anyway, after answering a bunch of questions, I can now say I am Gryffindor material: courageous, chivalric, determined. Fine, great, whatever.

Then, for more fun, the kiddos ran the ole MASH routine on me. You know the one: you write MASH at the top (abbreviation for the types of dwellings in which you will one day dwell: Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House), then list the job you’ll have, the person you’ll marry, et cetera. You draw a spiral in the middle until the subject says stop, and then, once the spaces between the spiral’s line are counted I[, you eliminate your subject’s future life options accordingly until just one option is left in each life category. For this MASH installment I wound up living in the mansion and married to Taylor Swift. (Incidentally, T-Swift is also a Gryffindor.)

I have fond memories of MASH, dating back to third grade. The first time I played it I wound up a teacher, living in an apartment with Mary S., a girl in my class. I remember feeling deeply satisfied with that prospect, not just because I avoided becoming a gravedigger married to Miss Lawrence, the hated P.E. teacher, but because I harbored a little crush on Mary S. and living in an apartment seemed pretty cool, just like Gabe and Julie Kotter!

Or was my crush sparked by MASH’s prediction that we would one day marry and get an apartment together? Is MASH responsible for putting me in a love and marriage frame of mind at the tender age of eight? Hard to say now, in my middle age, with my courageous future already largely determined and my chivalric choices mostly made, thank God.