Dear Baboons, for the next few weeks I will be unable to administer Trail Baboon, so I’ve lined up a series of classic guest posts for review. Starting with this one, which may have been the first guest post to appear on Trail Baboon back in October of 2010.
A Guest Blog by Jacque
In my young adult years I worked in a library twice, once in college “keypunching” the stacks during the first computerization of the collections, then later, at the front desk of the Public Library in Grand Rapids, MN. There in that presumably intellectual, quiet, sedate literary setting, I found a noisy, messy, colorful human parade.
It was not at all what I expected.
One day while I was at my front desk post, a quiet man who frequented the library shot through the entry door carrying a bag, making a beeline for me. He abruptly stopped, spun around to face me, then reported to me that he had just returned from a trip to Martinique where he owned an estate. He handed me the bag saying, “These figs are from my estate. They are for you. Next time I go there, you must accompany me.” He turned and fled out the front door. I was stunned. I looked at the bag of figs. The bag was from the local green grocer who was offering figs on a special. The library book he returned was a book about Martinique. Although he was at the library often, he never spoke to me again, silently presenting his books at the checkout station, then moving on.
Another patron routinely checked out grocery bags full of paperback romances—Harlequins, bodice rippers, tattered and torn books. She always returned them on time, then took another bagful with her out the door. However, the patron was so shy she could hardly look at me. When she did look at me she frequently had a bruise on her cheek or her arm, or a black eye. Not a romantic life at all I feared.
Most afternoons at the library between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. local businessmen would come in and sit in the lounge area near the front desk where the newspapers were located. They would read and chat with each other. It was a party atmosphere.
One afternoon at that time when the area was full of these patrons, a ditsy blonde approached the front desk. “I’m going on a vacation to England,” she announced to me loudly and proudly. “But I am afraid of flying. I need the book Fear of Flying by Erica Jong!” hitting the J heavily.
“Excuse me?” I said, surprised. “Fear of flying?”
“Yes! I’m going to England on an airplane. But I get so nervous, so I want to read that book to get over it.”
I cleared my throat, uncomfortably viewing the room full of businessmen and lowering my voice. “Well, ma’am, actually, you might not want that book. That is an erotic book. It’s not really about air travel.”
“Oh, yes it is!” she insisted. “ I read about this in a magazine.”
“Um, no, Ma’am, it is an erotic book.”
“Erractic?” she said loudly. “Well, of course I’m erratic!. That’s why I’m scared on an airplane! Now, where can I find that book?”
The businessmen were looking at us. She had certainly garnered their attention. Several were chortling.
“Ma’am,” I said in a whisper. “Not erratic. EROTIC. It’s a SEXY book.”
“Well, I want that book.” She demanded.
I gave up, my face reddening, then directed her to that section of the stacks. She brought the book back and checked it out. I thought it might cure her anxiety – surely the subject matter of the book and the shock of the content would distract her from her fear of air travel. But I’m sure that this book was not what she thought it was. She had a significant misconception about the Fear of Flying. I just wish I could have watched her read the first few chapters.
How do you tell someone they’ve got it completely wrong?