Taking no prisoners. Including herself.

Dear Book-Nerd Readers,

There’s something wonderful about a library, don’t you think? And I don’t mean all the books and learning and shit. I mean that it commands its own quiet energy, connecting yet un-intrusive; that although this is a public space, there is a kind of imposed isolation, too. It’s the quiet:

“I am sitting next to you, and we are connected in this way, but you are under no circumstance permitted to talk to me. Because this is a li(shhh!)brary, that’s why.”

There’s beauty in that. It’s the same reason why I secretly think the iPod is so popular: headphones.

Everyone, in a library, is free to feel safe to go about his or her business ( “I’m into beat poetry. You’re into civil war anthologies? Great” ) without feeling obligated to mind the Other — which is rare in a city — and in this way there is perhaps a more genuine connection between civil members of a collective group through isolated co-habitation of thepublicsphereheretofore –


So, I’m sitting in the SF Public Library, right?  I mean, really, I’m just sitting here working on a book review I’d like to publish — and then, of course, I’ve allowed myself to get distracted with posting to my blog about the Inherent Goodness of Libraries (see above) — when this guy, my age, friendly-looking, walks over to where I’m sitting, doesn’t look at me, but sets a book down beside me.

I don’t look over, thinking, you know, he’s just putting a book down and plans to sit there and, um… read. Like what you do in a library. Then he walks away. Sure. He’s going to go look for something else but is just “saving his spot,” right? He walks around the library, sort of eyeing me, as if he’s watching to see if I noticed him, or his book. I can feel his gaze on me. Then he leaves leaves. Like, walks across to the elevators, pushes the down button, the doors slide open, he gets in, looks at me hard one last time, the doors slice closed, and he’s gone. 

I look over at the book, and it’s a thick edition of MORMONISM – STUDY EDITION. I swear I feel him remotely wanting me to pick it up and have a look –

oh-shit-okay-now-he’s-back. He’s sitting right next to me, and he keeps looking over, wanting, wishing, willing me to make eye contact. I can only imagine what will happen if I do. I. Am. Concentrating. Very. Hard. To. Look. Busy. Okay, I have to end this post now because I swear if he looks over and sees the word “Mormonism” in all caps on my computer screen, I’m screwed.

Signing off,
P.S. I hope no one reading this is Mormon / offended.

§152 · March 12, 2006 · Narrative, San Francisco glory · · [Print]

5 Comments to “A Dispatch from the Library”

  1. marc says:

    Yikes! stealth preaching!

  2. E says:

    But still happily passive. Too bad other religions can’t be so quietly annoying. The crusades would have taken a turn for the better if Richard I just dropped a bible on those folks instead of the whole, “burning everything alive” deal.

  3. marc says:

    agreed! and we can draw parallels to the current situation in Iraq, no?

  4. chuckles mcduckles says:

    how can you be so jerk-like to him? he was just spreading the word about jesus coming to utah in person (no joke) and how multiple wives but no sodapop is fantastical.

  5. Shannon says:

    Let me get this straight: I am not biased against Mormons; I am jerk-like to everyone equally.

    And I’m sorry, but: “fantastical”?!

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