This isn't the kind of score sheet you usually see at the Perfect Rack.
This isn't the kind of score sheet you usually see at the Perfect Rack.

Touchdown Harry!

I love my husband. My husband loves his friends. His friends love Harry Potter. I have no idea who Harry Potter is. And I get the idea that I'm supposed to be ashamed about that.

My husband is from a very rich, very Jewish family in New York. I'm from a very poor, very Catholic family from a village in Colombia. Somehow we found each other in Houston. Our life together is wonderful -- except for Sports Night.

This week's Sports Night is at the Perfect Rack (2033 Mangum, 713-682-6866), a pool hall and sports bar that's heavy on the pool and light on the sports. Every week my husband and his two best friends, Ted and Neal, take turns hosting Sports Night. The host chooses the game and the bar and picks up the tab. Since tonight is Ted's turn, and Ted is both cheap and single, we're at the mostly deserted, slightly dingy Perfect Rack. My husband and his friends are sitting at the bar watching one of the half dozen flickering televisions suspended over the bar. These are normal-size televisions, mind you. And there are just the few of them, instead of the dozens of giant-screen sets that fill most sports bars. Ava, Neal's wife, and I are sitting at a table in the back, by some pool tables. The floor feels a little sticky, and most of the bar stools are covered in mismatched vinyl. My chair is a little wobbly, but Ava has happily discovered that hers reclines and she's lying back, almost completely flat. (She's a little ahead of me in the beer department.) Even though it's Christmastime, and there's a lovely white Christmas tree by the front door, our table cloth is left over from Halloween. It's bright orange with white ghosts and black bats all over it. In the dim lights, it looks a little like a spotty leopard.


Perfect Rack, Bars

The game must be going badly, because my husband has walked over three times in the last hour to see how we're doing. Ava's husband gives up on the game altogether and comes to sit with us. He starts slowly spinning his wife around in her chair while she giggles. "I don't think the chair is actually supposed to do that," my husband tells them, looking down at the reclining, spinning Ava, but she just giggles and says, "He's teaching me about inertia!" Neal is an engineer and in the six months that we've been having Sports Night, this is the first time he's been able to interest Ava in anything even resembling something scientific.

Now Ted is at our table. The game must really be going badly. He's brought a new round of beers and settles in on the wobbly chair next to me. "You know your boss?" he asks me. I nod. "He kinda looks like Percy."

"Do I know Percy?" I ask my husband; I'm still getting to know everyone and don't always remember their names.

"Actually nobody knows Percy," he tells me. "Percy is from Harry Potter."

"Harry Potter?"

"The kid's movie, you know," my husband answers.

"And books," adds Neal. "Harry was a book before he was a movie."

"Oh no," groans Ava. "You're not going to start with that shit again. Harry Potter this and Harry Potter that. If you say one thing about an owl or elves, I'm gonna throw up."

"Harry Potter doesn't have any elves!" Ted and my husband answer in unison.

"I'm gonna go to the bathroom," Ava says, sounding dizzy and disgusted at the same time. She's only a few steps away when her husband picks up her beer and starts chugging it.

Ted starts, "Now, there are trolls. Remember, one got in the girls' bathroom and almost killed Hermione..."

"And there are goblins, at the bank. And ghosts at the castle," adds my husband.

"She must be thinking of Lord of the Rings," says Ted disapprovingly.

"Well, is that little teacher an elf?" my husband asks, seriously.

"The one that teaches Hermione how to float a feather?" asks Neal.

"Was it float or levitate?"

"Oh, he's the one they pass around the mosh pit at the Triwizard Tournament dance, isn't he?"

"It's the Yuletime Ball..."

"It's the Yule Ball, jackass. Minus one point for you!" says Neal.

Ava is back. She sits down and lets her head fall on the table, thump! None of the guys even look over.

"Are you okay?" I whisper to Ava.

"I'm fine," she says into the table. "It's just that I hate when they do that shit."

"What, eh, shit?"

"That Harry Potter shit. You'd think they had all grown up being spoon-fed Harry Potter trivia. They only do that because they can't remember football stats."

"No, no! He's just a giant spider! Nobody put a spell on him, he came like that!" Ted is talking a little too loudly, even for a bar.

"What is Harry Potter?" I ask Ava.

She picks up her head and looks at me like I'm crazy. There's a big red spot on her forehead from where she hit the table. "He's that little witch boy."

"Wizard!" screams Ted. "He's a wizard!"

"And you're a nerd," Ava snaps at him, holding her face in her hands.

Neal has pulled out a pen and is starting to draw out a score sheet.

I spend the next hour watching my wonderful husband (who is very, very handsome, by the way) and his two friends (who are also a little bit handsome, but nerdy) as they get drunk and fight over a little boy named Harry Potter and his two friends (who, it seems, are also a little bit nerdy). Ava, even though she doesn't want to, gets called in as referee (she lets her husband cheat, I think), and I'm the scorekeeper. I'm on my third score sheet because Ted has spilt beer on the first two, once when he was showing us how owls fly without flapping their wings and then when he was being a Dementor. I don't know what that is.


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