Sunday, November 09, 2008

Library Memories: Having Fun

Sometimes you just have to have a little fun. This applies to librarians, too. When you live in a town small enough so that everyone knows everyone else, and when you work in a small library in that same small town, you get to know the quirks of the patrons. You know the types of books they like to read and set ones aside for them. You know of the patron who won't check out any book that weighs over a pound because it's too heavy to hold and read in bed at night. You know of the patron who'll read anything with red on the cover. And it goes without saying that you know about the young patrons who think they're pulling one over on you.

I well remember the evening one such young patron walked into the library. I was a year ahead of her in high school, and was in the same class as her older sister. (When I said everyone knew everyone else, I meant it. My graduating class consisted of 35 students.) While the older sister, Melissa (name changed to protect the innocent), preferred light romances to read, her younger sister, Melinda (ditto), preferred books with a little more "substance" in the way of romance. However Melinda thought that Mom might have a problem with the sort of book she wanted to check out, and she devised a fool-proof plan. At least she thought she did.

Whenever Melinda found a book that she thought Mom would have problems with, she would check out a tall stack of books...and slip the "racy" one in the middle of the pile. Mom had a way of checking out books that didn't involve eyeballing each dust jacket. Melinda thought that, if Mom didn't see the cover, she would be home safe. She didn't realize that both Mom and I were very well acquainted with each and every book in that library, and neither one of us needed to see the cover to know which books Melinda was checking out.

On the night in question, Melinda waited in the stacks for everyone else to check out their books and leave. I was on the other side shelving books and dusting. From her position, I knew exactly which book Melinda wanted to check out. So did Mom. I leaned back from the shelves a bit and sneaked a peek at Mom. Mom winked at me. That wink told me to be ready.

A woman who lived on a farm out east of town took her books up to Mom, chatted a bit, and then left. Melinda, Mom and I were the only ones in the library. Melinda had to be ready to make her move. Sure enough, barely a minute had passed before Melinda reached for that racy book. Mom called to me from the front desk:

"Cathy, we need to stop at the store on the way home. Can you think of anything that we need?"

I gave it some thought. "Aren't we getting a little low on oatmeal?"

"Yes, we are. I'll add that to my list. What about supper tonight? I was thinking about having a nice tossed salad to go with those pork chops. Does that sound good to you?"

"Yes, it does."

"Good. We have some radishes, carrots and an onion, but we'll need a head of lettuce."

"Won't be much of a salad without the lettuce," I replied, feeling Melinda fiddling with her stack of books on the other side of the shelves.

Mom laughed in agreement. "Oh! You know what I almost forgot?"

"What's that?" I asked, knowing that Mom was about to spring her trap.

"Cucumber! I think salad just doesn't taste right without a nice big cucumber, don't you?"

Leaning back to wink at Mom, I said in a perfectly normal tone of voice, "I don't either" right over the small gasp from the other side of the shelves.

With that one word, Melinda knew that Mom knew exactly what she was doing, but due to my talent at keeping a straight face, when Melinda peeked through the shelves at me, she didn't think I knew what was up. To give her credit, Melinda didn't change her choice of reading material, and her face was only slightly pink when she walked up to the desk and handed Mom her books. But she didn't look Mom in the eye!


  1. I wonder what our librarians think of my reading choices (not a cucumber in the bunch!)

    Thanks for sharing, it sounds like you and your mom had a lot of fun together.

  2. Lol! Great story, thanks for sharing such a funny moment :)


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