I enjoy the library. My town’s is a sound, stoic structure housing billions of words of wisdom. I wish I could grind all the books in the non-fiction section, pack the goods into a giant bowl, and puff a little, every night. I’d live perpetually high on knowledge. Instead, in this dimension, I visit the building and take out a modest 3-4 books every few weeks, generally following a theme. This month I’m feeling particularly atheist and insignificant so I’ve chosen The God Delusion, A Briefer History of Time, and a collection of poems by Jewel. She wrote them in the back seat of her car, and hummed the words as lullabies to calm herself to sleep during her lonely, homeless years.
It’s only Monday and I finished reading my last 4 books on Saturday, but the new batch will have to wait until the weekend. Because Saturday is a safe day.
Three months ago I did my library run straight after work, as usual, note card with call numbers in hand. Walk in, retrieve, check out, done. Except this time. It was a Friday in early June and I was just getting used to warm sunshine during after work hours, so while my mood was chipper, my wardrobe was stuck in winter. Baggy jeans held up by an embroidered hippie belt, filthy Converse high tops, a faded black tank top and a plaid button down with rolled up sleeves. Preferably, my hair should’ve been washed that morning. The neighborhood female lumberjack is not the girl you hit on at the library, if hitting on girls at the library is your thing – dirty nerd. It was my routine and I thought nothing of it until I saw him; until I realized he was the only person on the other side of the checkout counter. A quick scan of his hands showed no sign of marriage.
Fuck, he’s hot. I glanced quickly at the self checkout station behind me – two people in line – and I was next to be helped by him. If I go to self checkout I’ll look like an idiot. What the fuck? Just check out the stupid books, you ass, you came here for them, not to find a boyfriend.
Hi, can I help you, he asked with raised shoulders and hands on the counter, impatient with my aloofness.
Hiiiiiii… returning these and taking these. OW! I stood paralyzed, my gaze shifted to the ceiling, holding my uterus.
Hey, you all right? Something wrong?
My uterus is falling out and I didn’t wash my hair this morning. I usually look better than this, I PROMISE! Oh, I’m fine, just… a weird… stab feeling inside. Nothing – nothing at all. It’s NOT GAS! It’s clumps of blood travelling down the straw between uterus and cervix!
Oh. OK. nice titles you got here, doing research for school?
Oh no, I’ve been out of school for a while. These are just for fun.
Well, I hope you’re gonna put Ted Kennedy aside tonight, ’cause it looks wicked nice out there.
Ha-ha, yeah, no, definitely. What about you, do you get to leave soon?
Yes, as a matter of fact, in about 20 minutes. I love volunteering here but no Friday nights and weekends for me. Oh, looks like you have a $6 fine, these books are a few days late.
Oh shit, I didn’t bring my wallet with me.
That’s fine, you can pay next time.
Awesome, thanks. Well, enjoy your weekend. Let’s hope the weather holds up!
Yep, yep, you too. Night! He raised his arm slightly to give me a half wave good-bye. As I walked away I noticed the ink of a tattoo inside his bicep and the hemp and leather bracelets he wore on that left arm. Then I tripped. I tripped on my own unhemmed, baggy pants, and the sound of my left foot stomp, as I caught my ground, echoed throughout the foyer and was surely heard from the checkout counter. Don’t look back, just keep walking. Just go, the mind-voices whispered.
Seriously? Did you have to trip? You fucking loser? If you hemmed your pants like every decent person does, if you’d just washed your hair this morning, if you’d taken the fucking Midol instead of insisting on being anti-over-the-counter-drugs, none of this would’ve happened. I think he was flirting with me. Was he flirting with me? Who cares, I fucking blew it. I’m a freak with dirty hair and he knows I don’t have any plans for tonight.
The self-hate speech went on until I reached the car and decided; stop it. No stranger is worth this agony. Even if his beard was perfectly fuzzy, his bracelets were cool, his smile was warm, and his shoulders were wide. Even if he volunteers at the library and plays guitar in his free time, and once played in a metal band but now is totally way more mellow. Fuck it, I’m coming back on Monday.