Being temporarily out of work is a great way to catch up on one’s reading. Being chronically relegated to the fourth shift is a great way to run out of money. So, being as I’m more chronic-unemployable than temp-idle, I applied for a library card. I admit I was plenty trepidatious. Applying for cards has not been an altogether fulfilling exercise for me lately. But lo and behold, if they didn’t give me one. Almost no questions asked. Mama said I had a trusty face. My father always responded, “Rusty.”
Clearly the nice librarian didn’t bother to check my credit scores. Didn’t even ask for a DNA sample. Or fit me with one of those electronic ankle bracelets. No sir. She just handed over my very own card like it was my very own God-given right to have one! Hosanah on Challah! I must be trustworthy, after all! I’ve got a library card to prove it. Shut-up, Dad.
I’ve a good mind to suggest to the high and mighty BankAmerica Corp. that they could learn something about trust and customer service from the good old Plainville Public Library.
And I’ve lived up to the trust they conferred on me for more than two months now. I’ve never been late returning a book. I’ve never dog-earred. And I only eat Cheez Doodles when watching TV or clipping my toenails.
But that brings up my one minor complaint with the library system: Other people have read my books before I can get to them. And at least some of these people are not as conscientious as I am. Shut-up, Dad.
I swear some of the books I’ve borrowed have more dog-ears than the entire cast of 101 Dalmatians. But I can live that.
What’s harder to deal with is the thumb-print buffet served up on almost every page. I just know that if I keep handling these books I’m bound to come down with tome ptomaine.
Now, what kind of a person reads while he eats? Doesn’t he know that’s what television is for? Hello, TV Dinners, right? Who ever heard of Smorgas-Books?
To make matters worse, these uncouth literati all seem to favor finger foods—up to and including lasagna. Sloppy Joes, Chili Dogs, Chili Cheese Fries, BBQ—anything slathered in some sort of tomato-based sauce is on the menu, as well as the book. And these people seem to believe any paper product is a napkin. Why some of the pages I’ve read recently look like they’ve been finger-painted by Chef Boy-R-Dee. By the time I get to read a book, half the pages are stuck together. Oh, the bindings may be broken, but the pages ain’t never coming apart.
And these poor books smell, too. Why, I borrowed one book, put it on the passenger seat of my car. All the way home I thought I was sitting next to a pepperoni pizza.
Thinking this ‘slob’ problem was probably confined to the kinds of books that attract mostly guy readers, I mentioned my Tomato-Based Blues to a female associate.
She looked at me like I was stupider than a goldfish making google-dy eyes at a cat. “Next time you’re in the library,” she said, “visit the Romance section.”
I took her advice.
Well, I was still a couple of stacks away when I smelled it. Chocolate. Smelled like a Walgreens on Valentine’s Day. I flipped through the pages of a couple of bodice rippers. Gross with a capital GRO!
All in all, the reddish orange smudges I find in noir thrillers aren't half as disturbing as the brown ones I saw in the Romances.