When Kate was wee and I was an energetic mum who believed in early-childhood education, my plan to make her a lifelong reader* involved going to storytime every week at the Allen County Public Library. It was always led by one of the several excellent children’s librarians there, but my fave was Miss Beth. Miss Beth had a knack with kids and many piercings. She was also funny, and said things like “right on” when she agreed with you.
Anyway, Miss Beth is in Indy now, but she still reads NN.C, and checked in the other day when we briefly discussed the problem of library perverts — the men too cheap to get their own computer and broadband, and come to the library to surf for porn. It turns out Miss Beth also has mad skilz with the pervz:
There’s a system to catching a perv that I feel I’ve perfected lo these ten years. The rumor at my library is that I can smell a perv at 20 paces because of my success rate. The real tip-off? The subtle tilting of a computer monitor. No innocent person cares if you see their game of hearts or online dating profile. I give it about 20-30 minutes after I see the tilt and then do a fly-by. At this point, the patron is so engrossed (emphasis on “gross”) that he never even hears me approaching. It’s the heart-stopping jump and scramble that I love the most. The best line I ever heard? “I wasn’t looking at porn; those ladies were just missing clothes.” Hand to God.
It also reminds me of the summer I spent about a week (with the help of a few other librarians) combing and interpreting Indiana Code to aid in reprimanding a patron. This particular gent never actually whipped it out. Oh, no, nothing that crass. He would rub himself through his shorts. And when he would come up to ask for more time at his terminal, the evidence of his electronic love was front and center. I usually sat in a low chair and was confronted with his spreading stain enough to ask for help in getting him out. And wouldn’t you know? We found something (and since none of us are law librarians, we took great liberty with it) that suggested one could not self-pleasure through one’s clothes in public in this great state.
Just so’s you know.
How did librarians ever get tagged as shushing, severe, boring old maids? I’ve yet to meet one you wouldn’t want to have a beer with, just so you could hear their stories. On the other hand, maybe there’s a reason they turn into old maids. You can hardly blame a girl for swearing off men forever, after meeting a few like this.
*Obviously this plan has been a miserable failure. I just came downstairs to find her watching a Disney Channel show featuring a talking zit. Yes way.
I feel so much better today, I’m a new person. Still stiff, but no longer fatigued and miserable about it. Some things you just have to wait out. Even…the bloggage!
For Better or For Worse used to be one of my favorite comic strips, until Lynn Johnston embraced her inner conservative, the one that believes that while young ladies may dabble in these things called “careers,” there comes a time when they all have to come home, marry someone parentally approved and open the baby factory. The drawn-out final storyline leading to Johnston’s retirement — the marriage of Elizabeth and her unbelievably boring childhood friend, Andrew — has finally begun. The Comics Curmudgeon finds the turning point.
The reaction to Mr. F’Buckley’s death — I prefer Ernestine the Telephone Lady’s pronunciation — has been more tolerable than I expected, but then again, I’ve been avoiding the National Review. (Although Jeff forced me to read Tim Goeglein’s initial tribute, which was amusing. I’m keeping the bookmark close, to compare it with his inevitable News-Sentinel column.) A few lefty sources dug up this chestnut, which reads like it came out of a brandy-and-cigars conversation in the parlor at Twelve Oaks. Granted, the quote is old — older than me; that’s old — so I did the math and figured Buckley would have been 31 when he said it. Old enough to know better, certainly, but 1957 America was a different place, too. As a writer who’s produced millions of hastily churned words in thousands of forgettable pieces, my natural sympathy lies with the writer. What someone wrote then isn’t as important as what they’d write today. Writing has always been a form of thinking for me (and, I suspect, for Buckley), and part of the reason I do it all day is because it helps me clarify my own thoughts. Someone once asked, “What do you think of X?” and I replied, “Dunno. Haven’t written about it yet.” A sloppy thinker/writer like me might ramble all over the place before arriving at a destination, and if they did the same thing 24 hours later, arrive at an entirely different place.
From this NYT roundup of readers’ questions to Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus, who’s writing a bio on the man (thanks, Jeff), we get this:
I never heard him make a personally disparaging remark about anyone, even adversaries like Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. and Gore Vidal. He might describe something they did or the style in which they did it, but never in an insulting or even critical way. He had a large sense of the human comedy.
He said it was a mistake for National Review not to have supported the civil rights legislation of 1964-65, and later supported a national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whom he grew to admire a good deal, above all for combining spiritual and political values.
So, see, Darwin was right. We do evolve.
Rereading that first quote, I see the trap. “Having a large sense of the human comedy” can be another way of saying, “He was a bullshit artist who would say anything for a paying audience.” Someday, Ann Coulter is going to die of lung cancer, and someone will say that about her. I know people who’ve met her, and say she’s funny and charming and nothing at all like she appears in print, that it’s all a schtick to make a living, etc. Or it might just be that Buckley really did have a large sense of the human comedy. This no longer matters. There’s a reason we say “rest in peace.”
Something I never knew: John McCain was born in the Canal Zone.
And with that, I’m dragging my stiff ass (literally; Tuesday’s workout included a set of two-at-a-time stair climbs, and now my ass hurts) off to the gym in hopes of limbering things up a bit. Later.