Monthly Archives: November 2006

Greekonomics

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There’s an unhealthy stereotype of librarians as little old ladies who wear cardigans and put their hair in buns.

I object to this stereotype. I’m not entirely sure what a cardigan is, but I’m pretty sure I don’t own one. In fact, Ive been forced to conclude that I’m not even the most stylish librarian in Wilhelmsplatz. Peresepolis has me beat. She’s always wearing cooler clothes than me. AND she’s old enough to be my mother. I’m ashamed.

Rumor has it that Gwynhfer has me beat, too, but I don’t see her every day, so I don’t have enough evidence to be sure. Also, she couldn’t be my mother, not unless she raised her skirts when she was really young.

The stereotype further breaks down when you consider that lots of librarians are men, and it breaks down even further when you look at my hair. These days it’s cropped really short, and it’s purple kinda, and it stands up in some really funky ways if I wake up early enough to apply hair goo.

I am so happy about my new haircut. The whole time I was with Backwater I could not beg, intimidate, or seduce anyone into giving me a decent haircut. (Did not actually attempt to seduce any of the hairdressers, and you wouldn’t have either, if you’d seen them.) Here in Wilhelmsplatz I have discovered Hairdresser Jeff, and he is the greatest person ever. He let me communicate in adjectives, like this:

  • Hairdresser Jeff: “What are we doing with your hair today?”
  • Me: “I want hip! Trendy! Groovy! Edgy!”
  • Hairdresser Jeff: “Awesome!”

Hairdresser Jeff says that next time we can explore color options. Also, Hairdresser Jeff knew what my license plate meant. (It says MUGL.) I think I’m in love.

My hairstyle is so very badass that I just might take a picture of it for you folks in distance places like Kansas/Missouri (which one is it, Marian? I can never remember) can see.

No! Better! Here’s a picture!

In real life my neck isn’t that long and graceful, but otherwise that’s pretty much spot-on. Oh, and I have a nose in real life.

But back to the original point: is that the face of the musty stereotype?

No, no it isn’t.

There. With my compassionate, mature artwork, I have demonstrated that I do not have a bun.

…crap. Didn’t address the cardigan thing. Or maybe I did. I’m not wearing one in the picture. In fact, I’m not wearing anything at all. Teehee!

There’s another stereotype of librarians as being shy introverts. This one is harder to argue against. Most (though not all) librarians are bookish, and most (though not all) bookish people keep to themselves.

It’s certainly true in my department. We are not the bubbliest softdrinks in the fridge. And, you know, that’s okay…

…except that, for now, my department IS my peer group. I just moved here and I don’t know anybody except for the people I work with. (And Hairdresser Jeff, can’t forget him.)

I’m trying to remember each day to leave my desk to go visit the other departments. I still don’t have a clue what most of these people’s names are, but hey, at least I’m chatting with them.

Still though, the people I see most are my cohorts in Adult Services. [I will never stop thinking that “Adult Services” sounds naughty. Never, never, never.] So I was delighted when Mellicent suggested we get some people together to go out for Greek food.

Unfortunately Mellicent got sick, but Persepolis and Currer Bell and I gamely went for Greek without her. Predictably, we spent a lot of time talking about books, but A) so what? Talking books is fun! and B) none of us wore cardigans.

Fair is Fowl, and Fowl is Fair

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For the past few years mom and dad have driven out to my place for Turkey Lurkey, and then I’ve driven out there for Christmas. But it sucks to drive 8 hours each way if you have to turn right back around, so this year we decided to do Turkey Day separately, and they’ll be driving out here to give me presents to celebrate the birth of Christ.

The only problem with this scenario is that I can’t cook. Anytime mom and dad have visited for Thanksgiving, they’ve brought the cookware and the food with them. Or rather, mom’s brought it with. Dad can’t cook, either.

Am I a horrible daughter for making mom drive out to my place to cook? Eh… maybe she’s a horrible mother for not teaching me how to cook. She doesn’t like it, she has only herself to blame.

But that was moot this year. For a while there it was looking like I’d be nuking a teevee dinner for my Thanksgiving meal. And hey, that’s not so bad. I’m a spoiled white American. I have money to buy food, and health care, and shelter, and a PS2. I could be a starving AIDS orphan in Zaire, or I could be eating Stouffer’s Turkey Dinner and blasting zombies on Thanksgiving Day. Just gotta keep things in perspective.

Man, I love blasting zombies.

But it turns out I didn’t have to fend for myself on Thanksgiving. The Queen of Claremont invited me down to her house. It was kind of scary, since it was filled with strangers. I don’t like crowds, and I don’t like strangers, and I really, really don’t like crowds of strangers. But every situation is more tolerable with a glass or four of wine.

The Queen of Claremont didn’t like my Fair Is Fowl joke because the turkey was better than fair. And yeah, she’s right, it was an excellent sample of bird flesh, but come on, Shakespeare jokes are funny. And by the way, it could be said that we met in thunder, lightning, and in rain. The weather was lousy.

Then this evening, I got another dose of former coworkers at the 40th anniversary party of their finance director, one of my favorite human beings in the whole world.

Good grief. Forty years of marriage. The mind boggles. I have not been alive for forty years, let alone married for forty years. I haven’t been married for any years, for that matter.

So it was nice to hang with the Backwater people, and while we’re on the topic, may I mention here that Patrick Jones thinks that’s funny? The joke, see, is that the real name of the system is Blackwater Regional Library, but in keeping with my tradition of using easily-deciphered pseudonyms on the blog, I’ve chosen to refer to it as Backwater, and hoo boy, if that’s not an appropriate moniker I don’t know what is.

When I was at ALA this summer I got to meet Patrick, and take it from me, he is a god among library men. He’s written two YA novels and he does all this awesome stuff with teens. Which is all well and good, but the most impressive part is that he’s so freakin’ cool. He’s got this mane of wild long hair and he looks like he needs to be on a motorcycle. One look at him and you wanna ditch the conference to go get a beer with the guy. 

Anyway, I got to chat with him a little at ALA, and I told him about Blackwater being a typo of Backwater, and he laughed long and hard at that. I like people who laugh at my jokes.

…this story might be more impressive if I substituted "Samuel L. Jackson" or "Alan Rickman" for the celebrity, but what can I say? Library name-dropping is the best I can manage. 

Where was I? Right, the anniversary dinner. I decided to wear my maternity dress.

Eh? What’s that? Maternity? …Lesbrarian, is there something you’re not telling us?

I haven’t slept with anybody in something like two years. I’m not sure if that’s exact, but it’s been a really fucking long time, okay? (Or a really not-fucking long time, depending.)

I suspect– I cannot be sure– but I suspect I’d be a more tolerable, likeable, and better-all-around person if I got laid. I need to look into this.

In those grim college days before I became a librarian, I worked in a maternity store. It was an awful, awful job. For $7 an hour I had to deal with pregnant people. You ever wanna feel pessimistic about the future, try working with the people who are choosing to reproduce. It’s not pretty. There are some perfectly wonderful, worthwhile people who are having kids, of course– but then there are the pregnant women who shoplift clothes out in baby carriages.

Even those breeders who were not morally corrupt were still, you know, pregnant. They’ve got funky hormones, aching feet, and nine months of back pain. "Do I look fat in this?" … Well… lady, I don’t know how to tell you this, but– yeah. You’re pregnant. What did you expect?

But I got an awesome discount at the maternity store, so I purchased quite a few clothes. None of the ones that were obviously maternity, of course, but for comfy, free-flowing clothing, you just can’t beat the preggers style.

I’m digressing again. Sorry.

So I laid out my maternity holiday dress and I hopped into the shower. I was busy scrubbing and singing some Three Dog Night songs. I do sing in the shower, and loudly. Does it bother my neighbor? Don’t know, but if he doesn’t complain about my singing, then I won’t complain about his snoring.

Somewhere in the middle of "One Is The Loneliest Number," which is probably my best TDN song–there’s this part where I get to do an octave jump into the stratosphere, it’s really fun– it occured to me that mayhap I should bring a present to the anniversary party.

You might think I’m obtuse not to have realized this beforehand. But remember, I have very little experience going to parties and showers and the like. I’m not good at social etiquette. Let’s blame that on Mom, too, that and the cooking. Or maybe this is fallout from that failed birthday party from my second grade year. (Observant readers will recall this maudlin sob story from the other day. Unobservant folks can read more here.)

Whatever the reason, I was a bit late in realizing that I should bring a gift, and I didn’t have much time to get one.

I hopped out of the shower and tried to hop into my dress, but Christ Amighty if it didn’t take me five minutes to get in it. It’s one of those deals with the internal lining and the external pretty part and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to put it on. Gremlin tried to help, which of course only complicated matters.

I finally managed to get dressed. I might not know much about party etiquette but I do know you’re supposed to wear clothes. Then I picked up a hummingbird windchime thingy as a gift, and then I realized I’d missed the ferry. So I got across the James River late, and then of course I got lost on the way there.

Isaac Newton died several hundred years before I was born, but if he’d had the pleasure of meeting me, he would have posed the Theory of Jessica’s Directional Sense: A Jessica in Motion Will Get Lost.

But all’s well that ends well, as Shakespeare would say, albeit not in MacBeth. I can’t think of a good MacBeth quote to end with. Um… out, damned blogspot, out… ?

One month in the life of Kennedy Rockefellovitch

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I’ve been with Wilhemlsplatz one month today. Let’s do one of those, whatchacallems, those… er… thingies they do at the end of the year. You know what I mean… retrospective, that’s the word. Let’s do a one-month retrospective.

Today a teen came up to the desk and asked for help on his senior research project. He’s studying whether street car racing should be legal or not. And it was the damnedest thing– I was able to help him. I was amazed. He was amazed. We were both amazed that I managed to find him some books and some database articles on drag racing.

After I walked him over to the call number he needed, I headed back to the desk with a big ol’ sloppy grin on my face. I couldn’t help it. I was so happy that I made this kid happy. This, ver batim, was my thought: "Gosh, I have the best job in the world!"

That is not a typical thought for me. I avoid optimism with religious intensity. It is entirely out of character for me to use exclamation points, and prior to today, I had not realized that "gosh" is in my vocabulary. It is impossible to maintain an image of wry disaffection with pollutants like that creeping into one’s speech. Thank God I didn’t say it aloud. What would people think?

So that’s the good news. I really, really love my job. I already have a passle of patrons who like me, who stop by to chat and keep me apprised on their reading, their research projects, their step-children’s iTunes collection. Every day I get the opportunity to help people, and… well… gosh, it feels good.

I also get the opportunity to look smart. The other day I guy came in asking where he could find books by Robert Heinlein. Said he liked Starship Troopers and wanted more by the same author.

"Have you read Stranger in a Strange Land?" I asked him, not missing a beat. The guy hadn’t. He really grooved on my improptu booktalk and he just about thought I walked on water when I showed him our Heinlein collection.

Really now– that was a softball question. It took no special background knowledge or mental dexterity for me to help this guy out. But he didn’t know that, and he was just thrilled to get a friendly response. He walked away happy, with a stack of books in his arms, and I looked like a rockstar.

I have a job where I routinely look smart and where I get the bubbly feeling from helping part on a daily basis. Cool.

But I’ll be honest, I’m feeling lots of stress. Not from the job– it doesn’t hold a candle to the anxiety I had in Backwater– but because, as Marian reassures me, two of the biggest stresses in life are moving and getting a new job.

I’m working very, very hard to understand the personal dynamics and social norms within my department and within the library. That in itself is a fulltime job. Though I pride myself on my intuition and my ability to understand people, I’m no great shakes at reading social situations.

Brief sob story:

When I was in second grade, we moved from Mississippi to North Carolina. (Thank. God.) Several months after the move I sent out invitations to all the girls in my class. I wanted them to come to my first-ever birthday party.

…You guessed it. No one came.

Almost two decades have passed, but I’m still that same kid, albeit with boobs and glasses and a college degree or two. As was true then, I have trouble making friends and doing, you know, social stuff.

Am I happy I took this job? Absolutely. I have the best job ever at the best library ever.

Am I a nervous wreck? Yeah, that too. I just about cried when I went to the local coffee shop today. I forced myself to go: not only did I want to celebrate my one-month anniversary, I wanted to take precautions against hiding in my apartment all the time. Did enough of that in Franklin, thanks. And I do so like coffee. More than life itself, if you must know.

So I put on my fuzzy jacket and pretended I looked like Helena Bonham Carter and I walked over to the trendy/hip coffee place.

But I was by myself! And it was noisy! And I didn’t know what to do!

Where was I supposed to order? Where was I supposed to pick up my order? Where was I supposed to sit? Was I supposed to sit before I got my order, or was I supposed to loiter? Where was I supposed to loiter, if that’s what I was supposed to do?

After waffling and feeling nervous I decided to sit at an innocuous looking table, and I hit my head on the overhead light. That’s when I almost– almost– started crying. I managed not to. Would Helena Bonham Carter cry? Would Helena Bonham Carter get all nervous because she was in a new coffee shop?

…have to say, getting coffee wasn’t nearly the relaxing Bohemian experience I had anticipated. But at least I tried. Maybe next time I’ll look suave, or at least not completely inept.

To recap this one-month analysis:

Job satisfaction: 100 gazillion percent

Social comfort: er… needs work.

Getting to 3rd base. I mean space.

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Have you heard of the Third Space concept? It says that people need a third place to be themselves in. We have our houses and we have our work-or-school, but we all need someplace else to relax in. Might not rate on the Most Profound Thoughts Ever scale, but it’s a lovely idea. Read more about it, if you’re interested.

Maybe I’m a little biased, but I think libraries make excellent Third Spaces. You can check your email, you can read the newspapers, you can skim the mags, you can check out a book, you can look at all those Not Suitable For Work links from fark that you couldn’t view in the office. In very progressive, awesome, Jessica-friendly libraries, you can even get a cup of coffee. If the Wilhelmsplatz library opened a coffee store, they’d recoup their costs from my pocket alone.

The problem is getting people to realize they can come to the library. Select members of the population are hip to the library’s charms, namely bored retirees, young moms, and the homeless.  But if you’re under age 50, you don’t have an ankle-biter, and you do have a place to live, chances are it hasn’t occured to you to come chill at the ‘brary.

Hear me well, fellow librarianators. We need to get the word out. We need to reach people where they are.

Example:

  • Every teen in the US of A has a myspace page.
  • Libraries can’t beg, intimidate, or coerce any self-respecting teenager to hang at the library.

What do we do? Think real hard here… c’mon, I know you can do it… almost there, almost there… that’s right…

Yes! That’s it! The library should get a myspace page!

It ain’t rocket science, folks. It’s library science.

People– and I don’t just mean teens, I mean Boomers, I mean Xers, I mean most of the friggin population– are blogging, are reading RSS feeds, are shooting the breeze on myspace, are killing time on flickr. Are paying four ever-lovin’ dollars for a cup of Starbucks. 

So if your library doesn’t have a blog, or an RSS feed, or a myspace page, or any of that trendy 2.0 stuff, then no wonder the people aren’t beating down the door. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Now we come to the most serious implication of The Library As A Third Space, namely, where the hell am I supposed to hang out?

In my pre-library days I used to spend all my down time at the liberry. I studied in the stacks, I browsed the shelves, I flirted with the circ staff. Then I became a librarian. My third space was destroyed.

Either I need to find a new place to hang out– the very thought terrifies me– or I need a new career. Anyone know where an out-of-practice tuba player can get a gig?

“Reader, I Shagged Him”

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I’ve been pondering yesterday’s post, wherein I confessed to an unhealthy crush on Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Let’s get a few things straight about my crushes. They are frequent, long-lived, intense, and pathetically hopeless. Sometimes I develop crushes on people I actually know. (I understand this to be relatively normal behavior.) More often I develop crushes on people I don’t know. This makes sense statistically. Being shy, I don’t know many people; there are over 6 billion folks I don’t know, if that gives you any perspective.

"Sounds reasonable," you’re saying to yourself. This is my blog and you will say what I want you to say. "Why, I have a crush on Johnny Depp, and I don’t know him!"

Yeah, you and me both, honey. You, me, my mom, this lady who works in circ, this guy friend of mine who’s not even gay, and bloody well every person on the planet. Celebrity crushes are a common phenomenon. Though it bears mentioning that my crush is, to be precise, more focused on pirate captain Jack Sparrow than on Monsieur Depp. Arrr!

Celebrity crushes are one thing, but what I’m trying to say here is that I have the capacity to crush on anyone: man, woman, deity, anthopomorphization, spiritual abstraction– you name it, I’ve crushed on it. He/she/it could be alive, could be dead, could be fictional. I develop crushes on supreme court justices. I develop crushes on authors if they’ve written books I liked. I then develop crushes on the characters in those books.

This goes a long way to explaining why I’m a character-driven reader, doesn’t it?

I suspect I have trouble separating reality from fiction. How about we demonstrate this with a story?

The Tooth, The Whole Tooth, and Nothing but the Tooth

I can’t recall believing in Santa Claus and I saw through the Easter Bunny ruse at a very early age, but the Tooth Fairy had me snookered. Every time I lost a tooth, I found money under my pillow. (Or one time, memorably, a plastic baseball bat.) I believed in her. I mean I really believed in her. I prayed to her, I kid you not. In my grasp of the facts, she looked suspiciously like Tinkerbell and lived on a distant star.

Toward the end of my tooth-losing career, though, I became suspicious. On my second-to-last tooth, I wrote a letter to the tooth fairy to ask her if she was real. I thought it was a clever idea, but I didn’t want to publicize it, lest someone sabotage my plan. The only person I told was mom.

When I received a handwritten note from the Tooth Fairy, a note that was not in Mom’s handwriting, my faith was restored.

But– o ye poisonous, traitorous thought! — doubt festered in me. Could it be possible? –oh I hated to think it– could it be possible that Mom, my own mother, could be playing me for a fool?

I had but one baby tooth still clinging to my gum. It was my last chance to prove or disprove the Tooth Fairy Theorem. I was in second grade.

When I finally tongued out that last bastion of my juvenile toothset, I breathed not a word about it, not even to mom. Guilt plagued me. I should be sharing this triumph with her, not walking around with my hand clasped over my mouth. But I had to know.

And– oh blessed Tooth Fairy, forgive me my human frailty! — she came, she took that tooth, she left me a dollar, and she wrote me a note! Despite my weak faith, the Tooth Fairy still loved her gap-mouthed child.

Years later– and I do mean years, though wild tigers could not compel me to confess how I old I was– I confronted mom and asked her the truth about the Tooth Fairy.

"Nope," said mom. "Not real."

Adulthood sucks.

…so you see that, even at a very young age, I was inclined to form meaningful relationships with people who did not, in fact, exist. This explains why I loved the Star Wars movies. I first saw them when I was ten, old enough to know better but unable to resist forming relationships with Han, Leia, Luke, and company. I knew– I knew— they weren’t real, but I prayed to God (though not the Tooth Fairy) to let the Millennium Falcon land in my backyard and whisk me away to Hoth. I practiced using the Force, albeit without much success.

For context, remember that I didn’t have much in the way of what you’d call friends.

I eventually concluded that Han, Leia, and Luke didn’t want my company. It was devestating. I replaced this conclusion, somewhat later, with the only-slightly-less-painful realization that fictional characters weren’t going to hang out with me. They just weren’t.

I have still not fully recovered from that realization. You begin to see, then, why I still form attractions to people who simply will not reciprocate my love, all because of the lousy roll of the die that caused them to be pretend and me to be real.

(This has spilled over into real life, too. You won’t catch me being attracted to available, attainable, decent folks. Nope. In high school, for example, I wanted the guy who was simultaneously quarterback/valedictorian/voted-best-all-around.)

So we have established, in laborious detail, why it is that I give my heart to impossible conquests like Tony Scalia. I can’t help myself. It’s kind of sad, but I’d like to think it’s charming, too, in a hopeless sort of way.

What truly disturbs me is the character of these men I obsess over. (I do mean "men." Lesbrarian though I may be, it is typically men who wring my heart.) They are all smart, and that in itself isn’t bad. The most attractive thing to me is intelligence. That’s not lip-service. That’s what sets my heart a’flutter.

No, the disturbing part is that I turn to silly putty over bad guys. Wicked-smart bad guys, but bad guys. Look at Mr. Rochester, my first true love. (There’s an excellent essay, by the way, on the eroticism of Charlotte Bronte, titled "Reader, I Shagged Him.") He imprisoned his wife in the attic and he treated Jane like shit.

  • Look at Scalia. He wants to tap your wires.
  • Look at Howard Roark: he hates you. He’s destructive. He wants to rape you.
  • Look at Hannibal Lecter: he hates you. He’s destructive. He wants to eat you.
  • Look at Ivan Karamazov: he hates you. He’s destructive. He wants to kill you.
  • Look at Yevgeny Bazarov: he hates you. He’s destructive. He wants to kill himself.

These are not the sort of men I should bring home to mom– though honestly, after that stint she pulled with the Tooth Fairy, she deserves one of them for a son-in-law.

To naughtily splice infinitives

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Rumor has it you’re not supposed to drink alone. Thank goodness I have cats. You’re never alone when you have cats.

I’m drinking wine this evening because my head hurts and because I had an emotionally draining day at work. (I suspect the one caused the other.) Why wine, rather than beer or liquor? (Liquor? I don’t even know her!) I’m not what you’d call a wine connosseur. Or a connosseuse, if we want to get the gender right in our francais. I pick my wine based on a variety of criteria, mainly

  • Does it have a cute animal on the label? (Yes– a kangaroo)
  • Was it on sale? (Yep– 6 bucks at Farm Fresh)
  • Was it packaged in a box? (No– thank goodness. Don’t want anyone suspecting I grew up in a trailer park.)

This bottle here passed the three-pronged test. Haven’t drunk enough to be BWI (blogging while intoxicated). I’d say that’s a good thing, though I do so love when Marian the Librarian gets intoxicated and starts professing her love for me. (I know I shouldn’t take it personally– when she’s BWI, Marian professes love for everything with two and/or four legs, as well as legless, abstract concepts such as reading and democracy– but still.)

But anyway, I’m drinking wine because it gives me a warm tingly feeling. Beer’s nice, but I never feel all glowey from it. Liquor’s nice, but I go from sober to smashed without warning. Not a good idea for a worknight.

So I’m listening to the Violent Femmes, a group I didn’t discover until I was 25. (Hey! I am 25!… yes, well, if you didn’t have any radio reception except for 99.9 Kiss Country when you were growing up, you’d be behind the curve, too.) And I’m drinking wine, and I have a magazine of logic problems to work on, and a fabulous novel called Straight Man to finish– it’s this irreverantly funny academic humor book– and, yowza, looks like I won’t be working on my book proposal, again. Oopsie.

Last night I finished The Deluxe Transitive Vampire. As you may suspect, it’s one of those books I had to read simply because of the title. I can’t say I recommend it as a grammar book– the examples were difficult and I don’t think it improved my facility with the language– but it was filled with pictures of nekkid ladies and with sexually-charged demonic word examples. "A book to sink your fangs into," said William Saffire, who’s got to be the most uptight, conservative, narrow-minded prick of a Republican grammarian ever, but who is nonetheless smart as a whip. I think I have a crush on him, but don’t tell. (My weakness is for smart men. The weakness is debilitating to the point where I think Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is dead sexy, in an intellectual way, e.g., the only way that matters. This is very embarassing.)

(But serioiusly– indulge me in a parenthetical here– Scalia is just brilliant. Have you read his case opinions? His interpretation of the 4th amendment makes me weak at the kness. I mean I gotta change my undies every time I hear him assault my civil liberties. Oh how I wish he batted for my team.)

I suppose I should put the wine away, slap some cold water on my face, and clean house. (Apartment. Whatever.) I’m going to have company tomorrow. Grandma and Grandpa called on Tuesday and informed me they’d be in town Thursday and Friday. This is not an everyday occurence. They live in Wisconsin.

Visits with them are always stressful, what with the not-very-veiled comments about the dignity of marriage, the joys of motherhood, and the virtues of regular church attendance. Also, they always manage to make me feel dumb. Tony Scalia, now, he could make me feel dumb and I’d come back begging for more– but I’m not keen on relatives making me feel stupid.

But hey, it’s family, and I’ll probably get a free meal out of it. Until then, I am going to brace myself with this glass of wine here.

Queen & Queen

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The Queen of Claremont has brought a terrible circumstance to the attention of the Queen of the Libraries. Namely, the Queen of Claremont is underrepresented in this blog.

The Queen of the Libraries is mortified. We (that’d be the royal We) are going to make immediate recompensation to Her Highness and Her sovereign nation in the form of leftover Halloween candy. Her Highness and Her Royal Consort will be granted full diplomatic immunity for all future visits to Wilhelmsplatz, and We will make futher reparations for a variety of past indignities, such as slavery, apartheid, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the Bubonic Plague, and the Full House sitcom.

…so the entry title is a pun on King & King, a controversial children’s picture book that has been reviled, disputed, and outright banned. It’s your run-of-the-mill children’s story about a prince who’s lookin’ for true love, and, as you would expect, he does find his heart’s content at the end of the book. It’s just that he winds up hitched to a boy monarch, rather than a girl monarch.

Out of curiosity I checked to see if Wilhelmsplatz owns it. (Many libraries failed to purchase the title, either because of the mediocre reviews of the artwork or because they wouldn’t touch that kind of controversy with a 10 foot pole.)

The good news: yes, we have a copy.

The bad news: we are censoring fascist pigs.

We have a copy but it’s hiding in nonfiction. Someone, somewhere, decided to shelve this make-believe picture book in nonfiction. The subject headings clearly show that this is a fiction book, but it has been relegated to the 306 section. That’s Dewey for "culture and institutions."

Quiz time! This sort of behavior is known as

  • A) censorship
  • B) bullshit
  • C) homophobia
  • D) the encroachment of faith into the public sphere

Ha, ha! That was a trick! All of the answers are correct!

Mine, alas, is not the only library to shelve K&K in nonfiction. The logic in putting it there is to protect parents from accidentally checking out a gay-themed book. If any parents actually want to find K&K, they won’t get it by browsing the kids’ fiction books, sensible though that would seem. Instead they’ll have to go out of their way to look it up in the catalog.

This infuriates me. Some parents don’t want to read gay-themed books, sure. Me, I don’t want to read "If you don’t believe in Christ you’re going to rot in hell" books, but I’m not asking anyone to hide them in nonfiction. Being a literate adult, see, I can make my own choices about what books to check out and which ones to pass over.

By hiding K&K in nonfiction, we’re denying parents the grace of serendipity. So many times we find great books accidentally, just by stumbling across them on the bookshelves. Why should this title be removed from the serendipitous choices?

Yeah, I know, some people don’t want their kids reading about gays. Seems pig-headed to me, since gays, you know, exist. (Gays also raise children, some of whom may be playing with your children, right now.) But hey! Do what you want! Prevent your kid from reading King & King— that’s your prerogative as a parent. But so help me God don’t you dare prevent my kid from reading King & King.

Not that I, uh, have kids. But it could happen. I could do the hetero barefoot-n-preggers thing. In fact, I am barefoot as I type this. I am halfway there.

Or even if sperm and egg don’t meet, I could adopt. Seems to me the ideal way to do things. I could get myself a whole passle of children, some of a black variety, some of a brown variety. It would be yet another way to piss off the far right.

So anyway, let’s pretend I’m doing the domestic baby-raising routine and that there’s a daddy in the picture. And while we’re in this fantasy, let’s pretend I learn to cook, and that I start keeping a spotless home, and that I don’t have stretch marks. This is fun!

There I am, the perfect picture of a breeder mommy. You might suspect that I want to protect my children from King & King (and Heather Has Two Mommies, and Daddy’s Roommate). You would be wrong. You don’t have to live a gay lifestyle to read gay books. Or consider: I am not black, but I like to read Alice Walker. (Why, one of my favorite authors is black!)

But I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. We have the blessing from our state constitution to practice discrimination against gays.

I am moving to Canada. I mean it. Or at least Vermont.