The jukebox was going on strike. He had spent too many cold Minnesota winters in the corner of this dive bar in Minneapolis. Back in the gold old days, when people still smoked and wore polyester, he liked being a jukebox and helping people to get their grove on. Now he was lost amidst the sea of undergraduate hipsters majoring in some vague degree that fell under the umbrella of “liberal arts.”
In the winters, they would stumble over to him, their feel wet with the mush of snow and mud that would seep underneath his grill and sit like a cesspool. They chose songs for him to play that they would make fun of instead of enjoy. And no one danced anymore.
So, he was going on strike. This was it, he was going to stop playing music. Eventually, the manager would call the repairman who would jiggle some of his innards and say, ultimately, that nothing could be done. Then he could be transported to a dump, maybe settle down with some nice VW Beetle or a Volvo and have little scrap metal babies.
And then she came in.
Standing at five feet, four inches, she was nothing incredible. Just a normal looking Midwestern blonde with boots and a winter jacket. She carefully removed both her boots and jacket and carefully pulled out a pair of dry, clean, blue suede Minnetonka moccasins in a size six and a half.
She walked over to the jukebox and looked down upon him with blue eyes filled with reverence for a time long past. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out two quarters. As she leaned forward to make her selection, her pelvis gently caressed his hard plastic exterior. He fluttered shades of neon at her touch. She inserted her coins forcefully, one after another and with great purpose and ceremony, pushed the letter “D” and the number “7” in quick succession.
His strike was over. “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” as sung by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts blasted from his bellows. The young woman made everything from the blue moccasins up move, swerve and gyrate to the music in such a perfect way, the jukebox couldn’t help but play the song over and over even though she failed to put in any more coins.
For the first time in his electronic life, the jukebox felt joy.
Ok, so my job, as a drug-sniffing dog, is to make sure cars in the ferry line don’t have drugs or things that might explode. So I shuffle around eagerly with my handler, sniffing bumpers. Honestly, most of the bumpers smell like piss and salt, but it’s a pretty good gig. I mean, I get to be outside, sometimes there are dogs in the other cars, and, if I’m really lucky, I get a fricking hot dog and a round of fetch when it’s all over. Sure, I could be living the high-life on a farm somewhere, chasing chickens or some crap like that. But I am proud to be a public servant. My mom and dad were award-winning birders. But I’ve never been super fast, and I don’t like carrying around a dead bird in my mouth. That’s gross, right?! I’d rather stick to bumpers and hot dogs. Plus, have you ever stuck your head out of a cop car while it’s whizzing down the road with the sirens blaring. That is the coolest thing ever. Seriously. Sometimes I think about what it would be like to settle down and have some puppies, but–married life, who needs it, am I right?! It’s a good gig, sniffing bumpers. I’m happy.
Nora once asked me to describe my perfect gift. Always evasive, I only offered up, “Spending time with you, my love.”
As she walked off in a huff, I meditated on materialism and waited thirty minutes (allowing her ample time to pout) before gently knocking on our bedroom door.
“Can I come in?”
“Only if you give me a straight answer. Come on, what would be your perfect gift. What do you really want?”
What I really wanted was space and silence. I wanted to be alone and not speak to anyone for an extended period of time. However, when one is in a relationship, this is often not an acceptable answer. As was now the case.
Gift-giving was Nora’s love language. These was this new-age-y book she once showed me that asserted that we all have our love languages and that gift-giving was hers. We had been together for almost four years and she never ceased to amaze me with her efforts in gift-giving. She was obsessed with finding me the perfect gift.
Trips to Mexico, sky-diving lessons, wine-tastings—these gifts were all thoughtful and appreciated, but silence is what I craved.
I looked down into her sparkling hazel eyes.
“Silence. That’s what I really want.”
She let the weight of the words fall into her ears carefully.
“Silence? You want silence? How can I give you silence?”
At least she wasn’t angry. Yet. I took her hand.
“Here, I want to show you something.”
I guided her into my home office and tentatively opened the top right drawer, extracting a brochure.
“There’s a monastery about 200 miles from here. You can stay there in exchange for working on the grounds. And you take a vow of silence while you’re there. You don’t speak.”
She looked up into my eyes. I was almost shaking, not sure how she would react.
“This—this is what you want?”
“How can I give you this?” She turned the brochure over in her hands, examining all the pages. “It doesn’t cost anything. I can’t buy it for you.”
“I’d just like to go. Try it out. You giving your permission would be the gift, I suppose,” I answered hopefully.
Eyebrows furrowed, she regarded the brochure once more, finally shrugging her shoulders.
“Well, of course. If going here would make you happy, of course you can go. You don’t need my permission.”
I hugged Nora with great force.
“If I had known this is what would make you happy, I would have booked this trip for you long ago.”
I went away to relish my gift of silence. When I returned, I was surprised at how much I had to tell Nora. Most importantly:
The old, heavyset Indian man sits outside the vegan café selling single long-stem roses. He is clad in khaki and seems incongruous in Capitol Hill. Patrons walking into the shared entryway nestled between Plum Bistro and La Spiga are accosted by his piercing voice. At first, it sounds like he’s calling out “Excuse me?!”
If you make enough money to be eating at one of these locations, your first instinct is probably to pass him by without comment. Your eyes glaze over and your ears become plugged. Unless you are a particularly benevolent member of society. Or very curious.
Upon closer inspection, the cartoonish bouquet of individually wrapped long-stemmed roses becomes perplexing. Collectively, the mass of roses could be a giant’s corsage. Maybe he’s asking if you want to buy one of the many roses sitting next to him.
If you listen very carefully, you can discern the words coming out of his mouth in rapid speed and pitch.
“Red or PINK?!”
“Red or PINK?!”
“Red or PINK?!”
He asks this of everyone who enters.
“Red or PINK?!”
It has the percussive nature of a shot being sounded. Or perhaps Tourettes.
Occasionally, the old, heavyset Indian man leaves his post and pile of roses to go smoke a cigarette by machine that dispenses parking stickers for street parking. The cigarette is a meditation. Breathing out smoke onto the dark, rainy winter night, he feels peaceful.
Then it’s back to the grind. Back to screaming “Red or PINK?!” Back to the never-ending deluge of Capitol Hill hipsters that unnerve him with their androgyny. They are not his customers. Usually, it’s middle-aged men who sneak out of either restaurant on the pretext of going to the bathroom. The transaction is rushed in low-tones and if he’s lucky, they might not ask for change.
On a good night, he gets enough money to buy another pack of cigarettes. Or to stop in the International District and pick up some curry on the bus ride back to the shelter in Pioneer Square.
On the coldest of winter nights, he thinks about buying a phone card to try and reach his daughter in Chicago. Lila. She has long since Americanized her name to Lily. After he turned 60, he seemed to loose the gift of speech, so when he calls her, she recognizes his silence and will indulge his listening for fifteen or twenty minutes.
She talks about his grandchildren, whom he has never seen. They are in school now. The boy is seven and likes to draw airplanes. The girl is 5 and likes to play in the mud. Her husband’s dental practice is picking up, and she writes for newspapers and magazines.
“Hopefully, we can fly out to Seattle for the holidays, Dad. Or maybe you can fly here.”
But they both know that isn’t likely.
“I’m still working on your spy story, Dad. I’ll send it to you when it’s finished. Is it still the same address? Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, 318 2nd Avenue?”
He murmurs something sounds like yes and she is satisfied.
“Take care of yourself, Dad. I love you.”
He does not feel like making one of these calls tonight. Instead, he chooses cigarettes and curry. They offer three meals a day at the shelter, but none of the food is as bold as curry.
He goes to his favorite little hole in the wall Indian place. He carefully places all of his roses on the counter by the window and sits down. The young Indian woman already knows his order and soon brings him a steaming bowl.
At first, he just smells. Inhales coriander, ginger, chili, fennel. Inhales childhood. Inhales first love. Inhales the birth of his daughter. Inhales all the pleasant memories that are warm and simple.
When he is satisfied, he takes his first bite. Spicy warmth and familiarity cascade past his tongue and down into his throat. He savors every bite. He licks the bowl clean.
He always leaves his waitress a pink rose. At first, she protested politely. Now she looks forward to the nights he comes into the restaurant. He reminds her of her grandfather who passed away. After the roses have lost their vitality, she hangs them upside down and dries the petals meticulously for some unknown purpose.
If it’s not too cold out, he will walk the eight blocks from the International District to Pioneer Square. The khaki newsboy cap keeps his balding head warm.
He retires to his small grey room on the second floor and listens to spy novels on tape. His favorites are those written by Ian Fleming and John Le Carré. He finds the tapes he wants by looking for the sticker with a red magnifying glass on the plastic spine.
He falls asleep to the escapades of James Bond and George Smiley and remembers fondly the adventures he had when he was young.
The next day he wakes up and does it all over again. The morning visit to Seattle Public Library, followed by the bus ride up to Capitol Hill with his roses.
“Red or PINK?!”
“Red or PINK?!”
“Red or PINK?!”
Believe it or not, he is happy. He is not alone. He has his spy stories. He has his roses. He has Seattle.
Jamie and I spent the afternoon getting our fictitious shared narrative straight. We distributed donuts at the theatre and his co-workers seemed perfectly amenable to swallow the sugary goodness and well as our premeditated tale of romance.
We went back to Jamie’s house to pack Pete’s things for staying with Isabelle. I debated a change of outfit, but I didn’t bring that many clothes with me and looking librarian-ly can also come across as slightly intimidating. And I wanted as many things working in my favor as possible when it came to this dinner.
“Isabelle might come across as warm tonight at dinner, but don’t be fooled,’ Jamie called out from Pete’s bedroom. “She will be watching you like a hawk, trying to zero in on what she perceives to be your weakness and save that information for future use.”
“Heh. No reason at all to feel intimidated, then, right?”
The truth is, I was feeling strong, but also couldn’t shake a bit of inadequacy as well. Isabelle was Peter’s mother. They had shared history. She will always have a tie to him through blood. I may just be passing through.
“I figured that we could go to Intermission. It’s the restaurant that’s attached to the theatre. There is food there that Peter likes and wine and beer, but not hard liquor. Isabelle gets mean when consuming liquor.”
“So I’ve noticed.”
If tonight went well, what did that mean? This was all foreign and very new, but I wasn’t that scared. Yet.
I took a seat on the living room couch and half-heartedly pawed through a coffee table book of Ansel Adams prints. Vast expanses of landscape in black and white. There was part of me that wanted run away, climb one of the mountains in the book and hope that Isabelle doesn’t come after me with an ice pick.
Jamie emerged from Peter’s room with a Buzz Lightyear bag with wheels and a handle.
“Any other pointers for tonight?”
Jamie shrugged. “Just be yourself, but think before you speak. I know that sounds contradictory…you’ll be under scrutiny, but I suppose part of it is just a mama bear instinct kind of thing. She wants to make sure that you won’t mess with her baby cub.”
He walks over and sits next to me on the couch.
“What about you?” I asked.
“What about me?”
“I understand her being overprotective about Peter, but what about you? Does she still feel that she has a claim to you? Does she?”
Jamie looks at me and takes my hands in his.
“Let me be really transparent. Isabelle and I are done. Over. No more, no way. When she walked out and left me and Peter, that was it for me. Anyone who could leave someone as amazing as Pete…That was someone who I didn’t need as my partner any more.”
I smile, feeling confident.
“That’s not to say that she won’t try to make you think that there’s the possibility that we might get back together. She just likes to destroy the happiness of others. I think she got that from her mother or something.”
“Come on, that’s not hereditary.”
“I sure hope not. It looks as if it skipped Pete if it is, though.”
“Do we need to talk to Pete?”
“About us? Have you had a girlfriend before? I mean, since Isabelle–one who has stayed the night?”
Whoa. I am not sure if I want to be going down this road. But it’s already slipped out of my mouth, so…
“No. I’ve seen a few women since Isabelle, but none who have…spent the night. This has been going faster than I intended, but I think we’re both comfortable with the pace, right?”
“And if Pete has questions, we’ll answer them in the best way we can. He knows you’re my girlfriend, and I think that’s all he needs to know about our relationship, unless he asks other questions.”
“Sounds good to me. Kids are new territory for me and I want to make sure I do right be me.”
“You always do right by me, Dorothy.”
And he leans in for a kiss. Which turns into making out. Which turns into…completely spontaneous, acrobatic afternoon sex. I love my life.
We show up at Intermission at five o’ clock with Pete and Buzz Lightyear in tow. Isabelle is already seated at a large table, halfway into a glass of red wine.
“Mommy!” Pete runs over and jumps on her.
“Hey, baby boy, I’ve missed you.”
“Missed you, too, Mommy.”
It’s obvious that Pete is going to sit by Isabelle. Jamie moves in to sit on the other side of her and I sit across.
“Dorothy, I’d like to apologize for the first impression I made last night. I was feeling the effects of jet-lag and I really should have called before I just showed up.”
“Apology accepted. I didn’t mean to be so forceful, I just really had no idea who you were. I mean, I hadn’t seen a picture or anything….”
“Perfectly understandable. I wouldn’t expect anything less. It’s good to know that there’s someone else looking out for Peter. Tell me, Dorothy, do you have any experience with children. Any siblings, for instance?”
Jamie and Peter watch our conversation like a ping pong match. I feel like they are both rooting for me and it gives me momentum.
“I’m an only child, but I did work as a nanny during grad school.”
This is an outright lie, but…when in Rome?
“Oh, that’s good to know. Good to know.”
The waiter mercifully arrives at the table to take our drink orders. Jamie and I both order glasses of Cabernet and Pete gets chocolate milk.
“Now, Dorothy. What is it that you do?”
“She’s a real librarian, mom. She went on the field trip with my class today to the public library and helped me fill out my library card and choose some books. And she tells the BEST bedtime stories.”
Pete is beaming from ear to ear and looks towards me with great reverence.
Isabelle’s eye’s narrow considerably. She reaches for her wine, downs the rest of it and turns to Jamie.
“Can I talk to you outside for a moment?”
She takes the dark green napkin from her lap and places it dramatically on the table, exiting quickly.
“I’ll be right back, sorry guys.”
Jamie follows her out.
“What’s going on, Dorothy?”
Pete looks up at me with confusion and concern.
“Nothing, buddy. Your mom and dad just want to have a talk. By themselves.”
“They shout a lot when they do that. Um…well, Mommy shouts and Daddy tries to get her to stop shouting. And sometimes after I get ice cream. Will I get ice cream tonight?”
“Sure, buddy, whatever you want. Let me tell you what’s on the menu, though. That’s what we’ll need to pick first.”
We are debating between chicken nuggets and mac and cheese when Isabelle and Jamie come back in to the restaurant. Neither one looks all that happy.
“What do you think, Mommy, should I get chicken nuggets or mac and cheese?”
“Honey, why don’t we go over to where I’m staying and have a secret picnic dinner, just the two of us. And we’ll make sure to grab ice cream for dessert.”
Pete looks at me, then at Jamie. We both try not to show emotion.
“Okay, Mommy. Bye, Daddy, see you at the show later. Bye, Dorothy.”
He leans over and gives me a squeeze.
“Will you come over to my Mommy’s after the show and tell me a bedtime story?”
This is dangerous territory.
“Peter, I am sure your mom tells great bed time stories. And she hasn’t gotten to tell them to you for a long time. It’s her turn this weekend.”
“Yes, it’s my turn this weekend,” Isabelle hisses, grabbing Buzz Lightyear in one hand and Peter’s hand in the other. They leave quickly and without ceremony.
I turn to Jamie.
“Are you okay? What happened?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. She–she wanted you to leave dinner and I told her that wasn’t going to happen and so she decided to take Peter for dinner. She’s feeling threatened by you. Hopefully she’ll calm down. Time with Pete always softens her.”
“Jamie, I am so sorry you have to go through this. If it’s easier for me to go back to Decorah–I can come back next weekend.”
“No, of course not. I’d really like you to stay. Let’s look at this as an opportunity. We get to spend at lot of time alone together this weekend and get to know each other better. Without Peter around. Which is probably the order we should have done it in anyway, right?”
“Right. Do you want to stay here for dinner, or–”
“Might as well. We can try to salvage the evening, make it romantic?”
“Anywhere I go with you is romantic, Jamie.”
We smile and clink our glasses together.
I left Jamie at the theatre and checked my watch. 6:30. If I calculated correctly, I had just enough time to drive up to Rochester, pick up some candles and lingerie and get back to the cottage before Jamie got back. I was going to turn this night around if it killed me.
My phone buzzed with the sound of a voicemail.
I had no interest in checking it. It was probably Linda with some strange request or platitude. I sighed and pushed the button to retrieve the message.
“Hi, honey. It’s Mom. Just wanted to know if we were still on for Thanksgiving next week. Your father and I would love to see you and hear all about how the new job coming along. Give me a call when you have a minute. Love you!”
Crap. Thanksgiving. What was I going to do for Thanksgiving? Was it too soon to ask Jamie and Pete over for Thanksgiving? Probably? But then again, it might be nice to come home with both a boyfriend and a potential step-grandson. I had to give this some thought.
I got into my car and blasted Florence + The Machine as I headed up to Rochester.
There is nothing like waking up to someone for the first time. I wake up to find Jamie’s left arm flopped over my stomach protectively. He was still asleep. He looks like a larger, more handsome version of Pete. I lay there quietly, not wanting to wake him hoping to drink in at least five more minutes of him.
Last night wasn’t crazy–it was familiar. It was like finding someone in the night and coming home to them. It had all been far more gentle than I was expecting, but it was lovely and safe. We were still getting to know each other, there was plenty of time for wild and crazy sex later on.
I tried to stifle a giggle, but it was too late. Jamie yawned and rubbed his eyes.
“Morning,” he mumbled.
“Morning, ” I replied through a grin and curled up on his chest. He bent his neck in such a way that he could kiss my forehead.
“That was nice, last night,” he started.
“Yes, really nice,” I purred.
He traced delicate circles on my back with his left fingers. We lay there in silence, in stillness for several minutes.
“Come on,” he said suddenly. “I’ll get coffee going.”
He left for the kitchen and I bent down, retrieving my clothes, piece by piece, from the floor below. I got dressed and then went in search of my duffel bag to get new clothes for the day. There was no way Isabelle was going to see me in the same clothes as last night.
I went into the small bathroom and brushed my hair and teeth, throwing on a little bit of makeup. I threw on an outfit from my bag that was my most “librarian-y” for Pete’s benefit.
I had fallen asleep in my contacts, which were now suctioned onto my eyeballs. It took some doing to pry them off, but eventually, success! I riffled through my bag to find my glasses. Looking at myself in the mirror, I felt very academic.
I surveyed the bathroom. I liked this part of getting to know someone–seeing what shampoo they used, how they stacked their toilet paper, whether or not the guest towel was clean. The bathtub was populated with Pete’s bath time toys: boats, pirates, airplanes, water guns. There was an adult sized toothbrush in the toothbrush holder, right next to a child-sized one in the shape of a rocket. I picked up the rocket toothbrush and held it for a moment. Then I made rocket noises and flew it around the bathroom, making myself giggle yet again.
“Hey, that’s my toothbrush!” came a groggy voice in dinosaur pajamas.
“Oh, hi, good morning, buddy–of course, here you go,” I said hastily, taking it as my cue to exit.
I secretly watched as Peter meticulously frosted his toothbrush with toothpaste and adamantly brushed his teeth until his mouth foamed. I had never really thought about having children, but watching Peter, I felt sure that I could get used to having this specific kid in my life.
I put my bag in Jamie’s bedroom and followed the smell of bacon and eggs into the kitchen.
Three plates were being filled with scrambled eggs, crisp bacon and toast. Jamie had poured coffee for us and orange juice for Pete. I helped carry everything over to the dinning room table. This place felt like home, and I had a firm sense that I belonged here.
“Pete, breakfast!” Jamie called.
Dino PJs joined us at the table and it felt as though we had always been a unit of sorts. Maybe not a family unit, but something more fun like the three musketeers or the three stooges.
“So, buddy, are you ready for the field trip?” Jamie asked.
“Of couse, now that I have a real librarian with me.”
He looked in my direction and beamed proudly.
“Happy to help,” I answered, devouring my eggs. Jamie was an awesome cook.
“And then what happens after school?” Jamie asked, carefully.
“You and Dorothy will pick me up and then we’ll have dinner with mom. And then I’m going to stay with her for the weekend, but she’ll bring me to the theatre for my shows and will watch them, maybe.”
“And you’re ok with all of that, buddy?” Jamie was obviously concerned. Isabelle was a bit of a wild card, and Jamie was working pretty hard to keep Pete in a regular routine. But Pete didn’t seem to fazed by this new plan for his weekend.
“Yep. It will be fun. Can I have a snickerdoodle with my breakfast? Please?”
Jamie smiled and said, “Coming right up!”
The Lanesboro Public Library is nothing spectacular. It is one of the biggest buildings in the town, built in the seventies and has that classic older library feel to it. I didn’t know what I could add to this field trip for Peter, as the kind librarians had their field trip tour down pat. We toured the entire library, but spent most of our time in the children’s section of the library. They explained how anybody could get a library card and the number of books or movies you could borrow at a time.
Pete held tightly onto my hand the entire tour, as if he secretly possessed the key to what everyone else was missing in library knowledge. Me. A real librarian. Of course, the librarians giving the tour were as “real” as I was. They had to go through library science graduate programs as well. Although, judging by their age and demeanor, that was probably several years before I received my degree.
At the end of the tour, I helped Pete fill out his library card application and, once accepted, I helped him choose a few books to take home.
“I’m so glad you were here for the field trip. I wanted to have an authority in case they got anything wrong.”
I smiled and gave him a big hug. Jamie rolled his eyes.
Peter needed to get in line and join the rest of the class. We waved our goodbyes.
Jamie turned to me.
“Do you want to go over a game plan for tonight?”
“Do you think we need a strategy? I was just going to try and be nice.”
“Isabelle is…let’s just say she’s hard to be nice to. If you have any questions before we go into battle, I’d be glad to answer them for you.”
We left the library, hand in hand, and I began to think of questions that might be relevant to have before dinner tonight.
“Well, for starters, are you two divorced?”
“We haven’t lived together since Peter was two, and I’ve filed the paperwork, but she keeps stalling.”
“We can’t come to an agreement with the parenting plan. She thinks that it should be fifty fifty, but I can’t agree to that. She travels so much, and I don’t want to make Pete fly to a different place every month. We try to negotiate, but we always end up at a stalemate. So there’s no official custody arrangement. Which is why she shows up unannounced a couple times a year and demands to see him.”
“Wow, that’s rough.”
“Tell me about it. I try to emphasize the importance of stability to a kid his age, but she won’t buy it. She was a child actor, for commercials and things and she thinks she turned out just fine, and doesn’t see why Peter can’t have the life she did. She always tries to get him into auditions when she has him. I mean, Tiny Tim in Christmas Carol is one thing, it hasn’t really messed with his schedule and he really wanted to do it. Being an actor is not the easiest lifestyle. If he wants to do that with his life, I would totally support it, but I want him to be old enough to really make that decision for himself instead of having some stage mom foist it upon him.”
“That’s really fair. Have you thought about bringing in a lawyer to help mediate this?”
“Isabelle fights dirty. I’m afraid that she would bring in some big guns from LA or something and fight for full custody out of spite.”
“She’s really a piece of work. I have no idea how she could leave a kid as amazing as Peter. It shows a lack of heart.”
“Yes, it does.”
There is an awkward silence. We have gotten into dangerous territory. I take it upon myself to lighten the mood.
“So, we have some work to do. We need to get our stories straight.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I told Isabelle that I was your girlfriend. We should probably create a backstory that’s longer than a week.”
“Pete has only known you for a week, he’s not so hot at keeping a secret.”
“We can say that we decided that it was important that we waited for me to meet Pete until we knew that we were really serious.”
“Are we what?”
I look up into his green eyes and gently take his face in my hands.
“Jamie, I drank scotch last night and kicked your almost ex-wife out of your house saying it was ‘our home.’ I have just gone on my first kindergarten field trip. If that isn’t serious, I don’t know what is.”
We both smile and he encircles me in a powerful bear hug.
“You really are amazing.”
“I know,” I chirp contentedly. “Now, how did we first meet.”
“Yes, I think that will still hold up, but it should be earlier, like two months ago.”
“So in September?”
“Sure, maybe opening convocation or something–are you religious? I didn’t even ask.”
“No, not so much.”
“Yeah, me either. I kind of avoid the religious stuff on campus. Hm…We could say we met at the library? I was working the reference desk and you came and asked me about…”
“Samuel Beckett. He wrote Waiting for Godot? He’s one of my favorite playwrights.”
“Ok, sure, Beckett. And I helped you check out some material about Beckett and you ended up checking out the librarian as well!”
“Sounds good to me.”
“So, does she know anyone you work with. At the theatre?”
“Not well. Why?”
“Well, if she’s trying to poke holes in our story, she might ask around. Maybe we could pick up donuts or something and you can introduce me around the office as your girlfriend?”
“That’s a really good idea.”
“I know. I’m full of them.”
We continue our walk down Lanesboro’s main street, in search of pastries and a fool-proof relationship story to fool even the most devious of actresses.
Fight or flight. As humans, we rarely experience it. Fight or flight is usually reserved for animals in the wild, the zebra as it senses a predator. I purposefully try to avoid situations that involve fight or flight.
I am staring blankly in to the icy grey eyes of Peter’s mother and Jamie’s ex-wife. I know nothing about this woman other than she abandoned the most adorable little boy in the world. My heart rate increases and there’s part of me that wants to punch her. But I can’t fight or fly. I need to stay and engage her in polite conversation.
“I said, who the hell are you?”
Her red hair is pulled back into a severe french twist that is so tight, it looks like it might be cutting off circulation to her brain. She has a willowy frame that contrasts the hard lines and angles in her face. I’d guess she’s about forty.
“I’m Dorothy. Jamie’s girlfriend.”
This is a stretch. Jamie and I have not yet had a state of the union type of conversation. I don’t want to risk the wrath that might spring forth from this ginger amazon if I say something along the lines of “Oh, well, I just met Jamie a little less than a week ago, but I’ve already grown quite fond of him and your son and think he’s the one.”
She takes me in as if she’s examining a petri dish of bacteria. After a few moments, she seems convinced that I’m a fairly harmless strain and cautiously extends her right arm.
“I’m Isabelle. I thought I would drop in on the boys and surprise Peter as a pre-Thanksgiving treat. I seems I am the one who is surprised. Jamie hasn’t mentioned you.”
The words ring hollow in my ears. Jamie hasn’t mentioned you. What does that mean? Do they actually talk or is she just trying to bait me.
It feels as have been transported into an Agatha Christie murder mystery. I must not reveal my cards to soon. I need to carry myself with the wit and demeanor of Dorothy Parker.
“How curious,” I say. “He hasn’t talked much about you either.
By this point, we are circling each other like wolves.
I once had a professor who put the question to the class “Do you now why we smile?” Students suggested “to show happiness.” Wrong. “To show whomever we’re talking to that we have teeth with which we could bite them.
Isabelle and I were all toothy smiles.
“Please, won’t you sit down.” I motioned to the dining room table. We had at least an hour to kill before the boys would be back from the theatre.
“Don’t mind if I do.” came the icy reply.
“There’s some spaghetti from dinner, if you’re hungry.” I offer, making it clear that this space is my domain, insinuating that she is trespassing.
“I’m vegan and gluten-free. So that won’t work. I’ll take a scotch. Neat. If you have it.”
She looks me up and down. This is a test. If I know where the liquor is, I have legitimate claim to this space.
“Of course,” I say, and make my way into the kitchen.
I only have one chance to get this right. Jamie had already pulled out the bottle of wine the other night, so I didn’t see where he got it in the kitchen. Quickly, I scan the kitchen for possibilities. It would need to be high to Peter couldn’t have access. My eye is drawn to a cupboard with a small childproof lock on it. Bingo.
I open the cupboard. Success. I am not a big drinker, but the only bottle with brown liquid in it says scotch and I know from characters who drink in novels that neat means without ice. I pour about three fingers worth of scotch for Isabel and pour a 1 and 3/4 fingers for myself.
I deliver our drinks to the dining room table and take my time lowering myself to a seated position.
If we were in a saloon, the bartender would most likely be anticipating a shoot out.
We are not cowboys, and therefore we have no guns. But we are women, and our voices and observations are an artillery all their own.
Isabel takes a long swig of her scotch and almost belts the whole glass down in one femme fatale gulp.
“Listen, Dorothy. I don’t know what Jamie has told you, but I’m still very close to both him and Peter. It’s cute that you’re here attempting to play Suzy homemaker, but Jamie and I have history. And if I want back into his life, I’m going to get there.”
Bitch, please. She is obviously bluffing. Right?
She regards me to see if she’s getting under my skin. I have not flinched and she continues her attack.
“Jamie does this from time to time. Tries to move on with a pretty young thing. But it never works. Because he never really got over me. We had no resolution. Because we were never really over. I just hit pause for a while. That’s why he hasn’t signed the divorce papers.”
Ok, what?! Now this is completely new and surprising information, but I can’t let her get to me. Her goal is to remove my from the premises before Jamie and Peter get back. And there’s no way that that’s going to happen.
I take a sip of my scotch. It’s dreadful, but I don’t let on.
“That’s funny, Isabelle. Because Jamie says that you’re the one who won’t sign the divorce papers.”
I am completely talking out of my ass at this point, but I have to admit I’m having fun. I am channelling Joan from Mad Men and have my best bitch game face on.
“Listen. This is what I think happened. Your psycho spidey sense picked up on the fact that Jamie was actually happy. So you decided to swoop in and rain on his parade. Well, I’m not going to let that happen. I have no proof that you are who you say you are, and as far as I know, you’re trespassing on private property. So I’m kindly going to ask you to leave this house and find a place to stay at one of Lanesboro’s many fine bed and breakfasts, leave a message on Jamie’s voicemail and we’ll sort out and schedule this ‘heartfelt’ family reunion tomorrow. If this does not sound amenable, I’d be happy to call the police and have them escort you out of our home.”
Wow. Our home. Big talk for someone who has absolutely no idea what she’s talking about.
Isabel recoils a bit. Purses her lips. Considers her options. Drinks the remaining contents of her scotch.
“Fair enough, Dorothy. Fair enough. I’ll be seeing you. Thanks for the scotch.”
We both rise from the table together. She exits slowly and memorably.
I lock the door behind her and lean my head against it for a moment. I am both exhausted and triumphant. I pour myself more scotch and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
When Jamie and Pete come home, there are freshly-baked cookies, and classes of milk poured to accompany them.
Peter is all about the cookies and dives in right away. Jamie and I leave him at the table and wordlessly go into his bedroom to pow wow about Isabelle.
“Dorothy, I am so sorry. I had no idea she was coming. I haven’t talked to her in months.”
“It’s ok. I handled it. I don’t know what kind of message she left, but I kind of kicked her out of the house. I’ve never seen a picture of her or anything, and she was such a bitch–”
“No, that was totally fine. She’s not supposed to appear unannounced. It’s not good for Peter. I’ve talked to her about his several times. Why don’t you go have some cookies and I’ll call her back.”
“What are you going to say to her?”
“I’m going to remind her about the agreement we have that visits with Peter have to have at least 48 hours lead time and, I guess schedule a time for her to see him.”
“I told her I was your girlfriend. I’m sorry, I didn’t know what else to say to her. She made me feel so territorial.”
Jamie leans in and kisses me, gently.
“Well, do you want to be my girlfriend? I’d like to be your boyfriend.”
We both smile.
“See, you just told her something that was prematurely true.”
I kiss him back.
“Why don’t all four of us have dinner together tomorrow night?” I offer.
“Sure. I have Friday off as well. I’d like to make a better impression on Isabelle. As your girlfriend, I’m sure I’ll have to endure further negotiations in the future and it would be a nice peace offering, right?”
“What did I do to deserve you?”
I giggle and leave him to join Peter and the cookies.
“These are so good, Dorothy!”
Regarding the cookie plate and doing some quick math, it appears that he has eaten at least five cookies.
“I’m glad you like them, Pete. Maybe you should slow down, though. Save some for tomorrow?”
He looks up at me.
“I guess so.”
I munch on a warm cookie.
“So, how was the show tonight?”
“It was good,” he says, eyeing the rest of the cookies.
“Ok, Pete,” I say. “One more cookie, but that’s it.”
He smiles and and greedily takes another cookie.
“So, where are we going on the field trip tomorrow.”
“That’s why you needed to come on the field trip. Because you’re a real librarian.”
“Well, I’m honored you invited me, Pete. That sounds like a lot of fun. Thank you.”
He beams, stuffs the rest of his cookie into his mouth and walks over to my chair and crawls into my lap.
I am taken aback by this gesture of affection for a moment, and then I wrap my arms around him.
“I’m really glad you came back,” he whispers.
“Me, too, Pete. Me, too.” I whisper back.
Jamie comes out of his bedroom. He pauses a minute to take in the tableau of me cuddling Peter on my lap. He smiles, and it looks like he could be getting a little teary as well.
“Guess what, buddy?”
Peter whips around on my lap.
“Mommy was able to visit this weekend. We’re going to have dinner with her tomorrow and then she’s going to take you on a surprise trip this weekend.”
“Really?” Peter sounds a little unsure as to whether or not this is a good thing.
“Really. Come on, buddy, it will be fun.”
Peter turns this over in his brain for a while.
“Ok. I think it will be fun. As long as we have real Thanksgiving with Dorothy.”
Jamie looks at me and raises his eyebrows as an invitation to answer.
“Yes. Of couse, I wouldn’t miss real Thanksgiving with you two.”
“Sure is awesome, buddy. And now, it is time for bed.”
“Awww. Can Dorothy tuck me in again?”
Before Jamie can answer, I pick Peter up and say, “Sure thing, kiddo.”
We go through the teeth-brushing, pajama selection and tucking-in rituals.
Peter is all ears for the next installment in Dorothy’s bedtime stories.
“What kind of story do you want tonight, Pete?”
“A funny one.”
“Ok, a funny bedtime story. Let’s see…Once upon a time, there was a dragon who was a king. He was green with purple spots. But all of his subjects were afraid of him because he blew fire every time that he sneezed. So the court wizard worked day and night and invented nostril covers for the king. So any time he felt the urge to sneeze, he could his nose with these magic flaps that kept the fire from hurting any of his subjects. And everyone was so happy, that they had a big party and roasted marshmallows on the king’s nose. And they all lived happily ever after. The end.”
Peter’s eyes were at half-mast. I went in for a good night hug and thought I heard him whisper “Love you, Dorothy.” But it would be way too soon for that, right?
I turned off the light in Pete’s bedroom and quietly closed the door.
Jamie was waiting for me on the couch. With the bottle of scotch.
“I see you’ve made a dent in the scotch.”
“I had a sip. Isabelle made the dent.”
“Typical Izzy.” He rolls his eyes. Again, I’m sorry you had to deal with her. She’s–a good person, but not so great with the people skills. She’s great with Peter, though, and I’m glad that he’ll get to see her. And that means…”
He raises an eyebrow mischievously.
“That means I get you all to myself this weekend.”
He leans in and kisses me, putting his hands in my hair. I kiss him back and surrender. Before I know it, he throws me over his shoulder and heads to the bedroom.
I giggle quietly. I guess this answers the question of if I’m sleeping on the couch again tonight.
I came into work the next morning to find a bouquet of flowers on my desk. My first thought was that they were from Jamie. I found myself imagining about proposals and weddings and other highly romantic and gun-jumping things of that nature when I actually read the card.
“Thanks for helping me out last night! 🙂 Jane.”
Oh, well. I’d rather have romantic surprise flowers, but I suppose I’ll settle for platonic surprise flowers.
I am about to settle into the soothing work flow of answering emails, when Linda burst into my office. She is livid. I can imagine smoke pouring forth from her ears.
“Ms. Watson, my office. NOW, ” she bellows.
Here are the possible things for which she might be bringing me to her office to chastise me:
1.) The way I handled her Paideia class yesterday. I probably shouldn’t have gone all Dead Poets Society on their asses. Or ripped up her discussion notes.
2.) Taking the CD out of her desk and listening to it. (Although this is really only a viable scenario if she has surveillance cameras installed in her office. Which is doubtful.)
3.) Taking Brittany to lunch. She has already warned me about not fraternizing with students.
4.) Working Jane’s shift last night without consulting her. Linda is a creature of habit and she does not like last minute changes in staffing.
I take a notebook and pen into her office. I will feign innocence until she lets me know for which trespass I’m being admonished. I lower myself into the chair facing her desk and carefully look up into her icy glare.
“What. Did. You. Do yesterday?”
I attempt to respond, but she’s off and running before I utter a syllable.
“Who do you think you are? What on earth, what on EARTH did you do during my Paideia class yesterday? Some of the students went to the Dean and said that they wanted YOU to take over teaching the class? You were just supposed to stand there and read my discussion notes out loud! You weren’t supposed to TEACH them anything! How could you do this to me? This is awful!”
“Linda, surely they aren’t going to take the student’s request seriously–”
“No, of COURSE NOT. But I feel betrayed. How could you go in there and be so, so, inspiring to them?! There’s no call for that in academia!”
I should just apologize and let this blow over. I should sit on my hands and keep my mouth shut. But something inside me rises up and takes over instead.
“Let me be clear, Linda. You have brought me into your office because you’re upset that I taught your class well? Because the students liked me? The only reason I was teaching your class was because you were too drunk to drive home the night before and too hung over to teach the next day. I will not suffer this gross injustice. The next time you take me away from my work, please have an actual, logical reason as outlined in the Faculty and Staff Handbook. Having hurt feelings because I did an excellent job on short notice is not grounds for discipline. In fact, it’s an abuse of power. I have half a mind to file a complained with the HR department. But I’m not going to do that. I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you are having an off day. But if this tyrannical behavior continues in the future, rest assured, I have no qualms with writing a detailed complaint and submitting it. Good day.”
I collect my things and exit calmly. Good day? Who says good day anymore?
I hide myself in the safe cave of my office and lock the door. My heart is pounding and my throat feels like it’s on fire. I’m not used to raising my voice.
I might categorize the events of the past week as out of character. But there have been so many of them that perhaps I am evolving. Being outspoken takes a lot of work. I have a newfound respect for anyone who’s ever spoken up for themselves or others.
This is going to come back and bit me in the ass. Hard. But do I really want to be working underneath someone who is so unbalanced? What an insane week. I want comfort. I want to be with Jamie and Pete in Lanesboro. It’s already Wednesday, but Friday still seems so far away.
I get out my phone and text Jamie.
“Work is crazy. Miss you and Pete.”
He responds instantly.
“We miss you, too. What happened?”
“Nothing, just had a heated conversation with my boss. Hopefully it will blow over soon. Can’t wait to see you guys.”
There is a pause, and then:
“Can you take tomorrow off?”
“Why?” I type curiously.
“Pete’s kindergarten class is taking a field trip and he wants to know if you can come. It’s tomorrow morning. Come up here after work and we’ll make you spaghetti.”
This offer is too good to pass up.
“See you tonight, then! I will bring garlic bread.”
Now to figure out how to get tomorrow off. I think I know how to work this situation, but I must tread carefully. I pull myself together and head back to Linda’s office.
I don’t knock, I just walk right in.
“Linda, I’d like to apologize for my outburst earlier this morning. I ended up working the reference desk unexpectedly last night and that paired with having to teach your class earlier in the day proved to be too much stress for one day. I know I am the youngest member of this staff and have a lot to learn. I also think I have a lot to offer. I apologize for bringing your leadership abilities into question and I think that if I took tomorrow off I could refocus myself and come back ready to servet the needs of this library in whatever way may present themselves.”
I wish it was possible to give myself a high five.
Linda takes all this in. Her face is not easy to read, but eventually she responds with: “Of course, Dorothy, that would be fine. Why don’t you take Friday, too. We’ll see you back here on Monday. I apologize as well.”
With that she turns and pretends to look for a file that probably does not exist.
Of course, she didn’t say why she was apologizing, but I’ll take all the time I can get with Jamie and Pete.
People talk about how wonderful it is to live “in the moment.” “Being present.” I always rolled my eyes at them because I couldn’t grasp what that really meant. I think I’m starting to get the hang of it.
I feel like a kid waiting for the end of the school day bell to ring. As soon I’m done with work, I rush to the grocery store and buy garlic bread. It’s the frozen kind, not as good as if I would stop and get all the proper ingredients, but I can’t wait. I need to see my boys.
There are an inordinate number of Amish buggies on the road tonight, but I don’t mind. I whiz past them gleefully and take a right onto Highway 21. The rolling hills fade into black and I keep my eyes peeled for deer. I know that we only have a short window of time before they need to be at the theatre and I want to savor every tendril of spaghetti.
I park in front of the yellow cottage and scurry up the steps. Pete jumps into my arms, knocking the garlic bread to the floor. But I don’t care. We squeeze each other affectionately.
“You’re HERE!” He squeals with delight.
“Yes I am! And I’m so glad to be here!”
Nothing can compare with the singular sensation of a small child being excited to see you. It moves you into a realm with Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse. You are the recipient of unbridled love and infinite awe.
Once Pete releases me from our hug, Jamie comes over and gives me a quick peck on the check while Pete’s back is turned.
“I will pop the garlic bread in the oven and we can all eat dinner together before we head over to the theatre. Dorothy, I know you’re going to see the show on Friday, but you’re welcome to come or hang out here.”
“I think I’ll stay here and bake cookies, if that’s ok.”
“That’s better than ok. That’s AWESOME!” Pete leaps into my arms again and starts to like my like I’m a cookie. “Yum, you taste delicious!”
“Ok, buddy, that’s enough, let’s let her settle in and sit down before we start licking her.”
We all let that last sentence soak in for a minute. Then we all start laughing. Just when I think I’m going to stop laughing, I get a glimpse of Jamie or Pete laughing and I can’t stop laughing even more.
When we all catch our breath, dinner is served. The sauce and noodles look and smell divine.
“Did you make all this?” I ask Jamie.
“Well, Pete is my sous-chef, but yup, I made the sauce from scratch–my grandmother’s secret recipe.”
Each bite is better than the last. Red sauce sticks in the corners of Pete’s mouth and he pretends to be a vampire. Dinner is over far too soon and the boys head out to perform.
“You should have everything to make cookies. There are a couple of recipe books on top of the fridge, or the password for the internet is on the bottom of the router if you want to look up something online.”
“Thanks, Jamie. Break a leg, you two!”
“We will!” Pete says as they leave.
I am not a baker by any means, but I love to make cookies for people I care about. I grab a recipe book off the fridge and find a recipe for snickerdoodles. I grab butter and eggs from the fridge and find flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda in the cupboard. I smile at the blue gingham pattern that lines the shelves.
I get out a big bowl and mix all the ingredients together. I plan on letting the dough sit in the fridge until right before the show gets out. There’s nothing better than coming home to the smell of freshly baked cookies.
I form the dough into a thick snake and wrap it in wax paper. I find space in the fridge and wash the big bowl and wipe off the counter.
I walk to the bookshelf in the living room. Jamie is well read. There are a lot of scripts and acting books, but also lots of biographies and classics. My hand rests on a well-loved copy of Pride and Prejudice, when I hear the front door opening.
“Did you guys forget something? The cookies won’t be done until after the show!”
I turn around to see a woman with bright red hair standing in the doorway.
“Who are you?” I ask hesitantly.
“I’m Peter’s mother. Who the hell are you?”
Friday could not come quickly enough. Of course, I had some sleuthing to do in the meantime to keep me busy.
Brittany went back to her research after our impromptu luncheon and I started my own research into the janitorial department on the campus database.
There were three men on janitorial staff with “A” names, either first or last. Andrew King, Aaron Tyler and Lee Aronson. None of them had the library listed as the building they frequented. I would have to keep an eye out during Linda’s Paideia class to see who popped by.
Taking my phone out of my purse, I see there’s a message from Jamie.
“Can’t wait until Friday. Miss you.”
Charming, as usual. I respond with
“;-) Me, too.”
I cannot stand being tethered to my desk for the rest of the afternoon. I go into the Interlibrary Loan student work area where Madeline is busy printing off requests from the database. (The one I should be working with, not the one I’m using to pry into my supervisor’s love life.)
“Madeline, I need to stretch my legs. Would you mind if I go pull these requests from the stacks?”
“That would be great, Ms. Watson, I’m swapped trying to copy and fax all these articles from the Journal of Sleep Medicine.”
“I see. Just focus on that and I’ll take this stack of requests and pull them.”
We are one of the few libraries that has the past ten years of the Journal of Sleep Medicine. I am constantly fielding requests from libraries that want to borrow our journals. Since the archives are so rare, they need to be kept in our library at all times. I have to tell them no, but we’d be happy to fax them selected articles. Those interested in the field of sleep medicine must by intrinsically lazy, because more often than not, they simply request all the articles in a volume.
I grab a metal cart and the stack of requests. Descending in the elevator, I am comforted and distracted by waves of familiarity. There is something almost divine about spending time in the stacks. When I worked in the library as a college student, one of my favorite things to do was shelf-read.
Shelf-reading involves taking a section of the library and going through, shelf by shelf, and making sure all the books are in order. I would also get to front the books, meaning that I would line up each individual book, one by one until they were all perfectly at the front of the shelf and in order. Shelf-reading only gets done once a year, during the summer. And now that I am a full-fledged librarian, I doubt I’ll get to do it any more. That honor will be reserved for the lucky couple of students who decide to spend their summer working at the library.
Today’s task is not shelf-reading, it is finding what resources we have that other libraries want. A biography of Marie Curie, the history of France during the revolution, specific translations of great works of literature. When I have pulled all the titles requested from the database, I have roughly eighteen books. With Madeline busy copying from the journals, I can make the excuse to finish shipping these out myself.
Packaging Interlibrary Loan requests is not unlike wrapping presents at Christmas. First, I scan them at the computer, similar to purchasing items from a gift registry. Then, I carefully wrap our Interlibrary Loan label around them, so they know who the book/gift is from. I carefully write the due date at the bottom of the label. Then, I choose what kind of packaging. The easiest way to go is to find a bubble mailer of appropriate size. The newer the mailer, the more quickly the packaging process goes.
I encourage students to recycle lightly used mailers that brought books to us. When we reuse mailers, it’s important to black out old addresses or put new mailing addresses over them. This has a slight feeling of re-gifting about it. For older books or videos, I wrap them in copious amounts of bubble wrap and then place the now-squishy egg of an item into a cardboard box.
And then comes the tape gun.
Tape guns are quite possibly the most wonderful invention in the world of packing supplies. We have four different tape guns. Two with clear tape and two with packing tape. I feel powerful while wielding one. It is hard to be indecisive when brandishing a tape gun. I usually put on way more tape than is necessary, which is probably very annoying to whomever opens the package. But there is something supremely satisfying about smothering a package in ribbons of packing tape.
It takes me most of the afternoon to package everything up. True, this could have waited until tomorrow, but I feel much better having moved around the library instead of answering emails at my desk.
Madeline is gone by the time I finish. Around five o’clock, the library becomes a different animal. Most of the librarians go home, except whoever has to work the reference desk. Students flood the library after dinner, either to use the computer labs, or to get academic work done in a quiet setting. There is the feeling of all the adults having gone home and children being up far past their bedtime. I like the library at night. The students feel less supervised and more free.
I head into my office to pack up my things. Jane, the librarian closest in age to me, knocks on my door.
“Hi, Dorothy. I hate to ask a favor, but my babysitter cancelled last minute. Is there any chance that you’d be willing to work the reference desk for me tonight? I’d be happy to trade a weekend shift with you or something.”
I am feeling unusually generous tonight and don’t have other plans.
“Sure, Jane, no problem.”
“Oh my gosh, thanks. Can I go run and get you something from the student union for dinner before I go?”
“Don’t worry about it–I’m not that hungry and I’m sure I have a Cliff bar or something in my bag to tide me over if I do.”
“You are such a lifesaver, thanks so much!”
The evening shift at the reference desk is usually pretty easy. Most of the students who come to the library at night are engrossed in whatever project they have brought to work on and don’t need outside help. Every once in a while someone wanders over to ask for help, but for the most part, it ends up being an opportunity to people watch.
I bring my things out to the reference desk and boot up my laptop. I have several unanswered emails from the afternoon, which I answer.
From my perch at the reference desk, I can see into some of the library offices. A figure in black catches my eye. I have to squint a minute, but it looks like Linda in a black trenchcoat and sunglasses. She pops into her office and then sneaks out the back door. I’m assuming it’s to get her CD of love letters read aloud by the mysterious janitor known only to me as “A.”
I sigh. Drama just follows some people around.
I entertain myself by googling myself and some friends from college. None of us have done anything extraordinary, but it’s still nice to be in the know.
I have one student come up and ask me if he can use Cliff Notes as a primary source on a research paper. I find it difficult to keep a straight face while I tell him he cannot. He is incredulous and storms out of the library.
I am trying to gain composure when another student approaches the desk.
“Well, hey there, little lady, what did you do, break that poor boy’s heart?”
This is one of the downsides to working the reference desk. College boys who think that I am a student working at the reference desk instead of a librarian.
“Nope, I was just doing my job and he didn’t like the answer I gave him.”
I change my tone to be terse and professional.
“What job is that, being a full-time hottie?”
Christ, I hate this part of the job.
“No, my job is being a librarian and assisting students with their research needs.”
“You’re lying. You’re too young to be a librarian.”
“I received my graduate degree in June. I am just the right age to be a librarian. Now, is there information I can help you find?”
“Uh, yeah, you can help me find your number.”
“What’s your name?”
“Brandon. Listen to me very carefully. I am not going to give you my number. Also, I am not going to let you continue to annoy me. If you’d like some help finding an article or a book for a research paper or project, I would be glad to assist you. Otherwise, I would kindly ask you to leave me alone and hit on girls closer to your age. Or better yet, stop hitting on girls and focus more on your school work. College is not all about partying and getting laid. Hopefully at the end of your four years, or in your case, possibly five or six, you will have gained some knowledge and can go forth to contribute to society in a positive way. That is our hope here at Luther College. Now, do you have any more questions?”
Brandon looks down at his feet sheepishly. He takes his backpack off, hunts in a folder and pulls out a syllabus.
“Could you help me find some primary source material concerning Rasputin?”
“It would be my pleasure, Brandon. Let’s find some dirt on that Russian creep.”
Oh, the joys of being a college librarian.