It’s getting cold and I get buried in multicolored leaves every time I step out of my front door, or my name isn’t Terrance Libraryson. I don’t care if it’s just me and Penelope this Thanksgiving! I am frying up a turkey and we will deal with the consequences later. By consequences, I hope the worst thing that happens is a refrigerator full of leftovers. We are all sensitive during this trying time, especially me. Penelope and I are outside at four in the morning.
“Why did we have to do this so early?” Penelope says.
“There’s always time for visions of sugarplums to dance in your head,” I say.
“I am thirteen year-old so you will treat me like a lady,” Penelope says.
“We are doing this because we are thankful,” I say.
The flaming turkey shoots out of the fryer and into the sky as if propelled by a rocket. It hits a pigeon, which lands, smoldering at my feet. The turkey is so fast, it’s just a tiny dot against the moon.
“I guess it’s a takeout kind of Thanksgiving,” says Penelope.
“You’re right. I give up,” I say.
So we both go inside and take a nap. When we wake up in the matching, houndstooth pajamas I insist on, it is time to order our Thanksgiving pizza. I pull up my Danielle Steel ebook on my laptop and begin cross-referencing that with the physical book I got curbside at Laman. Then I listen to the audiobook so I can check it for discrepancies. There are none. I add a perfectly-formatted, cross-platform Danielle Steel novel to my list of things that I am thankful for. My holiday has been a successful one.
Blog 21: Bald Eagle Guitar Tech
First, I whip out my guitar, Old Screamin’ Glory. I tune it to the cry of a bald eagle. I play the blues, because it is a uniquely American musical genre. I make a smoothie with blueberries, strawberries, and onions. I know onions are an unconventional choice, but they’re better than you’d think and I need something white to go with the red and blue. I am ready to exercise my right to vote. I walk out my front door, and my car has been replaced by something soaring, brilliant, and fluffy. No, it is not my bald eagle guitar tech; it’s something even more majestically American. It’s Falkor from Neverending Story! He’s a big, flying fluffy dog, and I’m riding him through the air to my favorite voting spot, Laman Library! I’m a little hesitant to ride him at first, though. I’ve never flown before.
“Don’t worry, I like Terrances,” says Falkor.
“For Breakfast?” I joke.
“Never! I’m a luck dragon. My name is Falkor,” says Falkor.
“Call me Atreyu,” I say.
We shoot through the sky of North Little Rock, and I can smell the tasty burgers of North Bar. We land in the safe comfort of Laman Library. To repay him, I scratch behind Falkor’s right ear since he can’t reach. I tell Falkor I’ll text him when it’s time for him to swing by and get me. I try to remain socially-distanced while I’m in line. My mask has a collage of Danielle Steel author photos screen-printed on it.
Okay now, my dear readers: You know I can’t lie to you. I really drove my car and parked it like a normal person, and I don’t drink onions in my smoothie. I’m sorry if any of you went and tried my fake recipe before you read this far. Voting can be a tedious process with all the waiting in line, but maybe we can all dream up a fluffy, flying dragon to make it go a little faster. Please vote at Laman before the election is over! Laman will be hosting early voting on weekdays 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so I had plenty of times to choose from. I decided I’m a 10 a.m. type of dude—motivated in the morning, but not too early and eager. For the first time ever, they will have voting on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., which is the Falkor of democratic opportunities.
Blog 20: America
I feel America in my bones, and it’s not just because I ate an entire apple pie this morning. It’s like a cross between hearing the star-spangled cry of an eagle, and sitting in line at the revenue office. Because I am lucky enough to be a patron of the Laman Library, I can early vote between October 19th and November 3rd!
So it’s safe, there will be temporary walls in place so the stream of liberty will only flow through the lecture hall! If you see me in line, as you do with any human, please wear your mask and keep your distance like I do. However, please don’t be emotionally distant. Say hi, if you’d like!
I don’t talk politics with strangers ever since that big meanie threw my red-white-and-blue popsicle on the ground during the 2000 election. I cried in front of everyone at the community center with only the blankets covering the bingo equipment to dry my tears.
But it looks like this will be a cry-free experience. They’re even continuing the curbside checkout service by relocating it to the children’s department entrance! I like to be prepared, so I set up a model of the Laman poling location in my house.
I even spring-loaded a couple of cardboard cutouts to test my voter’s etiquette. It’ll say, “What do you think of that politician dude and his taxation biz!” I will say, “I appreciate your enthusiasm but let’s talk about sweater patterns as it is November. I’m an argyle fan myself!”
If that doesn’t work, I will simply show them pictures of my sweet daughter, Penelope. I believe that sweaters and children are enough to get anyone’s mind off of the things that divide us. I’ve already practiced early voting today, so I’m taking a trip to my freezer. I pull out a red-white-and-blue popsicle that no meanie can swat out of my hand.
Blog 19: Prints of Prince
You know something? I haven’t printed anything out since March. While Laman Library is going out of their way to give me my amazing books, I haven’t printed off a picture of my hero, Prince, since the first flowers bloomed in Spring and hearing someone cough didn’t have me sweatin’ like it was election day. However, as I am writing this, I see on the official Laman Facebook that they’re doing curbside printing now! Not just books anymore!
I just email my picture of Prince with his lacy jumpsuit and his eyeliner to the library—a link to this can be found under both “check this out” and “additional services.” Then I schedule a time to come in and pick up my picture of the icon who was briefly known as an unpronounceable symbol. You know what the best part about the printing services is? It is totally free, like the glitter I covered strangers in that came flowing from my car until I was told to stop.
Not only that, but the Argenta branch of the library now offers notary services! Which is good, because documents don’t stop needing that almighty stamp just because there’s a global health crisis afoot!
Speaking of the library. Do you want to know something that’s truly strange? Every time Penelope comes home from using their WiFi in the parking lot, she has the strangest look on her face—almost like she just talked to a ghost or something. Just to mess with her, when she walked in the door just now, I asked her, “So did the building gain sentience and start talking to you?” She then flinched and ran to her room, slamming and locking the door. I know teenagers are almost as confusing as it is to be a teenager, but I never know what’s going to set her off these days.
I decide Penelope must need some time to calm down. Then I can show her the book bundle I checked out for her after hearing about it from a library video—from Facebook, of course. I pop in my earbuds, fire up Freegal, and listen to “Purple Rain.” Of course, I also put on my raspberry beret as one does while listening to Prince. If that building has indeed gained sentience and is talking to people, I might like to have a conversation with it myself.
Blog 18: Socially Distant Glitter Flecks
My name is Terrance D. Matheson, and despite my gratuitous amount of anxiety, I am adapting to this pandemic, since it doesn’t seem to be going away. I want to spread love and joy without spreading the virus. My first attempt was filling my trunk with glitter, leaving it open, and rolling down the street in my hazmat suit—eating chili dogs. I was laid back, with my mind on social distancing and social distancing on my mind. That is, until the very sparkly police officer let me off with a warning.
I felt bad because the poor woman even had glitter in her socks, and it was difficult to smuggle chili dogs inside my somewhat unnecessarily protective attire. So I retired that idea. Now I’m spreading metaphorical glitter by supporting my local businesses and library. Did you know that you can checkout magazines via Laman’s curbside service? I’ve also been watching their Facebook feed and their new TikTok for new videos and podcasts because every view and share counts. I even dueted the bookmark one by showing that I am currently 100% lawful good with my book ribbon. I pick up the latest issue of MAD Magazine at Laman, and even though the delivery is contact-less, I can still feel the love. They even schedule curbside pickup so library enthusiasts don’t bump into each other and spread germs.
I get back in my car which, to be honest, still has flecks of glitter throughout. I often find that glitter’s greatest strength is also its greatest drawback: It never truly goes away. I take a sip of my oat milk latte from Mugs, and I know I helped a business stay open, which will help the unemployment problem. But getting curbside from [barista redacted] instead of drinking it inside keeps us both safe. Once I am back home, I open my magazine and laugh like I haven’t in months. I can’t wait to tell all my friends about this in our next Zoom hangout.
Blog 17: Emotional Canyon
I haven’t shaved in so long, I just found an entire bag of Fritos in my beard. Ever since I was furloughed from my job at the mannequin factory, all I’ve been doing is reading books on Libby and grunting at my daughter, Penelope, to bring me more Fritos. She’s only here on the weekends, but somehow the chips keep coming. Some people might find this disturbing, but why look a gift horse in the mouth?
Even though I don’t miss mistaking our especially realistic mannequins for coworkers and having to ask the same questions over and over again until I find a real person, I miss my sense of purpose I get at my job. I’ve filled that emotional canyon with unemployment checks and e-books. I still miss having a physical book to hold in my hands—perhaps occasionally whispering sweet nothings into its spine. I heard that my beloved Laman Library is beginning curbside service soon, but I’m not sure when it will start.
I get a conveniently-timed phone call. It’s good ol’ [name redacted], telling me my hold has come in. All I have to do is schedule a time that I can come in and pick up my book. I choose first thing in the morning when it’s cool, because I am an exceptionally sweaty man. How many times a day can I realistically change shirts? I ask them how I can be sure that the books are safe with the pandemic and all. They tell me that the books are quarantined upon their return, so I don’t have to worry about infecting Penelope who has asthma, making her high-risk.
All I have to do now is wait for my time to park at Laman so I can call them so they’ll leave my books on the table by the front door. Now I just need to do something about this beard so they don’t look out the window and think I’m someone else, trying to steal my own checkouts. I, of course, will be wearing my face mask.
Blog 16: In Laman’s Terms Special Edition – Laman Speaks!
Terrance is at home, glued to his smartphone, reading ebook after ebook on Libby during his self-isolation. My apologies – I forgot to introduce myself. I am the Laman Library. You read that correctly, I am the very building that has all the books, computers, and overly caffeinated librarians like [name redacted]. I must confess that I am a seriously lonely building. I don’t often use my power of verbal communication because it startles people, and I get a lot of unwanted attention from the CIA. But things got so desolate the other day, that I asked a passing pedestrian what her favorite color was and she got so spooked that I swear she evaporated.
Despite all of this complaining, I do realize that the decision for me to temporarily close my stunningly beautiful, automatic doors is for the greater good. There is a dangerous virus making its way around the world, and I shudder to think of what it’s doing to my patrons, and what it could do if I discouraged their social distancing and safety by being open. I would also like to humbly point out that the library is more than just me, even though I’m extremely attractive in a big-grey-genderless-structure sort of way. The people who usually work within my walls are now busting their humps to make online programs that you can enjoy from home. You can even get wifi by parking in my parking lot so you can also keep me company if you so desire.
These include computer classes and clubs (Podcast and Film—which are Facebook groups; Anime is currently on Discord but is moving to FB) from LINC. Cyber Saturday is still going on as well! You just need to join the discord server with the code: discord.gg/SWEMBE after you download Discord from your app store. A lot of this is going on in Google Classroom and the William F. Laman Public Library Facebook page, and there will even be a writing workshop along with other creative and crafty programs including art tutorials, rock painting, and even a cooking show! Don’t forget that you can check out ebooks, using apps such as Overdrive, Libby, and Hoopla. In case there’s anything I’ve forgotten, do remember to head over to the Facebook page for a more comprehensive list of fun and interesting things to do. While these times are hard for everyone—myself included—with all of these fantastic things, I think we’ll get through it.
Blog 15: Mirror Shades
Today, I am feeling reflective, and it’s not just the mirror shades I have on my face to let people know I’m cool. It’s been one year since I simply showed my photo ID at Laman to get my library card and started my love affair with that beautiful place. As I walk over to the study area, I feel the dramatic wind coming from the heating unit blowing through my hair. My #1 Dad sweatshirt flows like an evening gown. I sit down, and get out my Danielle Steel novel that I’m finishing, since it’s due today and I don’t feel like renewing it. Although, if I did, they would be helpful and let me have it longer as long as another faithful patron didn’t have a hold on it.
Laman is the municipal library of North Little Rock, and as a lifelong North Little Rockian, I am proud. Although I have told my daughter Penelope that I disapprove of her getting a tattoo someday—but respect her right to get one—I have “Dog Town” tattooed on my forearm, right above Snoopy from Peanuts. All programs are free and open to the public, which is how I was able to brang my cousin, Stank Bait, to Bingo last week. They didn’t even mind that he was from out of town, even though he couldn’t sign up for a library card that day because he needed to get a Gateway Project application. It was a good thing the program was free, on the count of he spends all his money on stank bait, and sometimes those battery-powered bass that you put on your wall. Then you press the button and they sing. You get the picture.
As I’m walking out the door, ol’ [name redacted] hands me my fax I had sent to the library. I pay one dollar, as it was only one page. It was from Stank Bait. He just wrote:
“You’re better than fishing, and my wife left me because I fish too much.
I am overjoyed.
Blog 14: Hidden in Plain Sight
I walked through the graceful, automatic doors of Laman. I waved at the library worker, good ol’ hard-working-but-otherwise-nondescript, [name redacted]. I took a stroll right over to the Danielle Steel books, because that woman is the Ozzy Osbourne of romance novels. But instead of bats, I assume she eats oatmeal and scones. Instead of face-melting guitar solos, she just makes me believe in love again.
I have come for her masterpiece, Rich People Fall in Love, or Become Rich then Fall in Love, or Whatevs: A Novel. It takes place in New York City or some such setting, and it has a great airport scene. As I walked to the shelf, I tried not to get too excited, because I might have passed away from being too happy. It happens in Danielle Steel’s books, and they’re all loosely based on true stories.
I didn’t get too happy because, when I looked closely, the book was not there at all—not one bit. So I did my breathing exercises until my face turned blue, then I stumbled up to the front desk in a slightly dizzy, but decidedly calm fashion.
“Where is the best book in the whole world, Rich People Fall in Love, or Become Rich then Fall in Love, or Whatevs: A Novel?” I said.
“It’s February, so it might be on our Valentine’s display. Let’s check over there,” said [name redacted].
Good old [NR] led me over to the display table, and light practically radiated off the book. A tear even came to my eye. I checked it out for twenty-eight days. [NR] reminded me that I could call and renew it if I needed to. All I had to do was give them my mother’s maiden name for my security word. I needed that, because I’d only read the book fifteen times, and I wanted to have a while for my sixteenth through twentieth readings. There’s always things that I’ve forgotten. Did you know that the female protagonist wears a blue blouse from chapter ten all the way to chapter thirteen? I left Laman, once again feeling happy enough to croak at the beginning of a romance novel.
Blog 13: Glitter Computer
After the countless hours I spent on the phone with tech support and the warranty people, the computer company has finally given me a new laptop. It was hard to convince them that, yes, it did blow up in my face. It burned down my house of cards. What kind of weirdo makes something like that up?
I’ve gotten access to my own computer again, but they can’t stop by to set up my internet connection until Thursday, so I’m at Laman Library using their WiFi, which is free. They also let you stay here all day if you need to. I find the one labeled “Laman_Guest,” and I simply click on it because there is no password. Since I’m off work today, I spend my whole morning surfing the World Wide Web. I’m doing a research paper on David Bowie and how he inspired me to break masculine stereotypes and start wearing glitter on my person. I even paint a lightning bolt across my face when I’m feeling particularly pretty.
I finish my research paper and I hit print, thinking it will go to the printer like everything else I print in this lovely place. But no printer shows up on my screen. I have never experienced such heart-throbbing calamity. I run to the front desk like the bolt of lightning over my eye. I scare one patron so badly, I hear her call the police and say, “I’m at the Laman Library. There’s a suspicious man running around, screaming about David Bowie. He’s slightly overweight and appears to be in his forties. His face has a storm on it.”
The North Little Rock Police get there at the same time I do. Boy, that was quick. I explain the situation to the officer, and she is so understanding that she offers to meet me for karaoke later and promises to sing Mick Jagger’s part of “Dancing in the Street.” I ask the librarian at the front desk why the printer is giving me such icy silence. Apparently, the printer is not emotionally unavailable. It just doesn’t have a wireless printing option. I get back on my laptop and share it to my email. Then I log onto an express computer and print my paper like I did before Laptop, Jr. arrived. I once again feel satisfied in my experience.
Blog 12: Subpar Coping Mechanisms Bonanza
I walked into Laman with a Big Gulp soda and a chili dog bigger than my head. I sat them down on a table across from the study rooms, and the tiniest piece of chili rolled onto some papers that I didn’t notice before. Hoping I didn’t ruin anything important, I took a look at the document. Laman had put a new food Policies in place. No outside food is allowed, and you have to eat the food from the café in the upstairs rotunda. I felt a wave of guilt but, as to stop myself from panicking as usual, I rode across it on a surfboard of gentle inquiry. I slowly, calmly and carefully approached the circulation desk.
The librarian said, “I’m sorry. Did you just let out a yelp?”
I said, “No, I’m not freaking out. Am I in trouble? I brought food from outside the safe zone.”
She said, “It’s okay. It’s a fairly new Policies.”
I sneaked back out to my car and sucked down that chili dog quicker than you can say “library behavioral code violation.” Truth be told, I could not sleep at night if I knowingly broke the rules. I don’t know how I’m going to confess to the North Little Rock chapter of the Chili Dog Society that I dropped some delicious ground beef. Chili dogs are to be cherished and handled with care. Corndogs, on the other hand, are a disgrace to the –dog world. That’s right, I said it. I don’t even care if their inventor rises from the dead, out of the trash bag he’s buried in, and chases me down the street. He brought shame to a once-proud, junk food-based community.
I re-entered the library, doing my best to pretend like the incident did not occur. Though I did sweat a lot. I reached the end of the desk where they keep the event calendars. The design for December looked lovely. But, to my horror, the events on the calendar where sparser than that time I tried to grow a mustache! But I took a deep breath, and prepared to ask the librarian why.
The librarian said, “I’m sorry. Did you just let out another yelp?”
“I’m just not with it today. So, why are there fewer programs this month?”
“People tend to travel a lot during the holidays so we don’t have as many events,” she said.
“True. Come to think of it, I will be gone for two weeks, driving an RV cross-country with my buddy, Mosquito Mike. We’re going to see every chili canning facility in America,” I said. “There’s one in Nebraska where they have a giant model of a human digestive tract where you can walk around and pretend to be chili. Really, the taste of it on your tongue is only ten percent of the experience.”
“I hope you have a fun trip,” she said.
I thanked her and left the library, where there’s always something going on and something to learn.
Blog 11: The Life and Afterlife of Terrance
Something terrible happened to me. I was jumping on the trampoline in my backyard when I got distracted by a squirrel that fell from a tree. Halfway down, it appeared to hang in the air, then I felt a pain across the entire backside of my body and hit my head. Before I lost consciousness, I realized we were both falling.
I woke up two-and-a-half months later to my daughter, Penelope, telling me I’ve been in a coma all this time, and I better wake my lazy self up. I asked her why she was being so harsh with me, and she revealed that saying, “I love you” didn’t do anything. But every time she called me a deadbeat sleepy dad, my foot wiggled. Then my whole leg, and you can guess the rest. I asked her why I’ve gained so much weight since I’ve been in a coma. Why wasn’t I skinny? Penelope said she threw my favorite quadruple cheeseburgers with extra bacon in the blender and poured that into my IV every day. Even though quadruple cheeseburgers are a sometimes food, I guess I was technically on vacation since I couldn’t work.
I asked Penelope what month it was and, thank goodness, I hadn’t missed the Black History Month display at Laman. There’s one book on MLK that has a picture of him giving a speech and, if you squint, you can see my father in the audience, eating a quadruple cheeseburger.
think about how fun it will be until I ask Penelope if she ever turned in my library book. She said she waved it over my nose for the first few weeks of my hospital stay because the smell of Laman made my nostrils wiggle. Then she read it herself, threw it in the drawer by my bed and forgot about it. I asked her if she had lost all ninety-seven of her marbles.
I threw open the drawer, grabbed the book with its gorgeously glossy cover. Then I ripped the IV out of my arm and made a run for it. When I had made it halfway down the street, Penelope came running up behind me. She yelled, “DAD, YOU’RE IN YOUR HOSPITAL GOWN!! THEY WON’T LET YOU IN LIKE THAT!!!” I don’t know if you’ve seen someone sprint while putting on khakis, but I did it smoother and quicker than any of those fools. Penelope kept running with me. When I asked why, she said, “I gotta see this.”
I swear the automatic doors opened in slow-motion. My khakis made a dramatic swish-swish noise. I got to the front desk and asked [Name Redacted] if there was any way she could forgive me and my wretched soul. I was sure the book was marked lost, but it was here. She said, “Oh, well, it’s in good condition and you brought it back. So we’ll waive the fine. No problem, Mr. Terrance!” I have never been more relieved. “Say, I was flipping through a book on our display and I saw a picture with a guy that sort of looks like you in the background.” I felt like I had just reached the glorious afterlife since I’d spent so many weeks in the dark.
Blog 10: The Regulary Scheduled Program
I have some extremely bitter feelings about the way bingo turned out the other day. I only got a pack of toiletries and a water bottle. I had my eyes on that flowerpot. It wasn’t dipped in gold, but it might as well have been. The plastic was so shiny. I was last in line, because I was taking an iconic bingo selfie. As I got closer, sweat was running down my face like a football team. Then, the lady in front of me bought it with her bingo tickets. She had to know I wanted it by how my sweat made me stink.
When she turned back to talk to me about how my daughter’s oboe lessons were going, I’m sure she noticed I was making flowerpot contact instead of eye contact. To the untrained ear, her laugh when she talked to the bingo lady sounded like a friendly chuckle. I know it was maniacal, like she had just assassinated Ronald McDonald.
Now I’m back for a crafting program. We’re going to make dog and cat sculptures out of paint, some glue, plastic cups, and other household items. I made a test model at home. Well, two test models, because the first one spontaneously melted.
I sit down next to two ladies who tell me all the library gossip. Apparently, one of the librarians put a large print in the standard print section by mistake. Oh, the scandal! We all make our sculptures, and the lady running the program said my use of glitter was refreshing. I reminded her that my teeth are also very white and sparkly.
I leave the lovely Laman Library, feeling like a craft project held together with the finest glue that money can buy.
Blog 09: Mid-Life Crisis
I walk into Laman for the first time in a while, and you won’t believe what’s waiting for me. Everything in the whole, entire total place has been re-arranged. This unsettling event, I think, makes today perfect for me to have my mid-life crisis. I just turned 40, so I need to get that started. I can’t exactly afford a sports car, and I don’t have the time or energy for a real second job.
I could dance on the street corner dressed as Mr. Peanut, because that’s my only costume that has the mandatory less-than-seven chili stains required to join the Costumed Dancers’ Union. But that would embarrass my Penelope and I already do that enough. I feel that embarrassment builds character up until the point that it causes a child to grow up to be a bank robber. So I’m going to forgo the midlife crisis and channel all my confusion into a passion for freeform jazz. I go up to my librarian friend, [Name Redact-asaurus Rex].
I say, gently, “NR! How are things arranged now? Are they arranged at all? Is it total madness? If I look behind the desk, will there be DVDs lodged alphabetically between your toes?”
NR hands me a paper bag to breathe in, as I’m doing some light hyperventilating.
NR says, “I’m going to show you where everything is now and, as I do it, I want you to imagine the sound of ocean waves.
I says, “On the beaches of Normandy during D-Day?”
As she shows me around, she explains that the free space upstairs will be turned into a makers’ space, which will help out creatives and people who like computers. I might even be able to 3-D print myself a girlfriend. Except the date will come to a screeching halt when I pour white zinfandel in her mouth and it spills everywhere. I thank NR, though I admit that my head is still spinning faster than the Tasmanian Devil. Before I leave my favorite library, I check out the exciting murder mystery I keep hearing about, which takes place in Paris. It’s called Blood on the Crepes. From what I understand, they find the murder weapon inside a baguette. I imagine a lot of it would still be clean, so I sure hope they solve the crime before that delicious bread gets moldy.
Blog 08: Dream Cop
The night of the Infamous Burrito Drop of 2019, I had me one wild and crazy dream. The burrito spillage incident left me strangely hungry for burritos. I just wanted to treat melted cheese and ground beef the right way. Everyone has their own way of processing trauma, or so says the internet. Anyway, the world spun into view like a Microsoft PowerPoint slide transition.
I was in the lovely Laman Library, which is how we all referred to it, like it was a Hollywood starlet. I looked down, and I had a badge on my chest and a billy club on my belt. When I looked closely at the badge, there was the shape of a book engraved in it. Next thing I knew, there was a kid running down the aisle at over nine miles per hour. Red and blue lights flashed out my eyeholes and I was on his tail. We zig-zagged through all the empty shelves. The non-fiction collection was being moved around and condensed so they could put the fiction downstairs.
I shouted, “Freeze, punk!” and the little scamp transformed into a book. He floated in the air for a second, then hit the ground. I put him on the shelf and walked away awkwardly. Then, I heard the thump of hip hop across the library. When I got to the back, what did I see? A man blaring Kendrick Lamar in a public space. I like Kendrick, but there’s a time and place.
I said, “I am a sinner, who’s probably gonna sin again. Lord forgive me, things I don’t understand. Sometimes I need to be alone. Bi—“
He turned into a dang book, too. It really killed my vibe. I put him on the shelf, once again hoping that no one noticed. I got curious and opened him up and heard a scream. I walked away even quicker this time. I tried to restrain myself for a little while, but I kept seeing infractions, like leaving trash on the tables and breathing too loud in the quiet zone. I got so carried away, that I decided to go undercover.
I wrapped a secret microphone in a burrito tortilla, and placed it in the bathroom. I put my ear piece in, and waited outside. I heard my arch nemesis say, “It’s about that time again.” Then I heard some chewing noises that were just plain gross, so my dream replaced them with a drum solo. After the final crash of a cymbal, there was a pause. I was afraid he’d eaten all the way down to my listening device. Then I heard him say, “Well, I’ve eaten half the burrito. Time to get some cheese across that sparkly clean floor. Oh yeah, oh yeah.” Plop.
I burst through the door and held out my library card like a gun. He turned into a whole dictionary. I left the bathroom in a hurry, not having the time to look natural. I found a free chair in the reading area, which was hard, because the giraffes were having a meeting.
Then, a librarian dressed like Billy Idol came up to me with a cart full of the books that used to be unruly patrons. She said, “Hey, little Terrance, what have you done? Hey, little Terrance who’s the only one? Hey little Terrance, shotgun!
I felt my arm squish, morphing into the table of contents. I woke up to my daughter, Penelope, laying with her head on the pillow next to mine, her torso on top of my arm. She’d had a bad dream, too. If I learned anything from this ground beef-induced experience, it’s that I should never take matters into my own hands at the library.
Blog 07: The Blog Awakens
I bought a new computer since I buried my exploded one in the backyard. The mourning period is over, and I am back playing solitaire. I am playing that sad, lonely digital card game, because my internet has yet to be repaired from when the shrapnel of my laptop impaled my modem. I need to recover financially before I can call the Cyberspace Squad to hook me up. I need to go to Laman so I can use their Wi-Fi. I bet all my Facebook friends think I died in the explosion, which I’m sure was covered on the local news.
I pull up at the library, and I walk up to the front desk, where I am greeted with a smile.
The library worker says, “Hello, Mr. Terrance. What can I do for you today?”
I say, “Hello, [name redacted]! I was wondering, how do I connect to the Wi-Fi?”
“The name is Laman_Guest, and there’s no password.”
“Thanks, [Ol’ Namey Redacty].”
I go back into the study area, I open up my laptop, and I get connected to the interwebs. After I update my Facebook status, letting everyone know that I am, in fact, still alive; that I’m okay except I’m still having to draw on my eyebrows and exactly half of my beard. My eyes wander and they are caught by the glossy cover of Mad Magazine. I pick it up and take a look.
I laugh so loud that I am hushed by [Ol’ NR]. I ask if there’s any way I can check one out, and it turns out shelf lifts up like a magical treasure chest. The gold is back issues of my favorite publication, which I can enjoy in my own home without disturbing others. Well, except my daughters, but they’re already disturbed enough. They’re having to grow up with me, after all.
My redacted friend tells me they’re due in two weeks, which is plenty of time for hilarity to ensue. I leave feeling satisfied, though I am a little embarrassed about my noise pollution.
Blog 06: Time Keeps on Slippin'
I got off work a little late today, but they didn’t suck all the life out of me, so I figured I’d head to the library. The fact that it’s Friday makes me think back to the crazy Friday nights I used to have. One time things got all fuzzy, then I woke up in a lush garden, just in time to dodge the bite of a giant Venus flytrap. He kept coming after me, so I grabbed a nearby squirrel by the tail and slung it at him. I ran away while he was chewing then prayed to Squirrel god for forgiveness.
Anyway, when I finally made it to Laman, it was all dark on the inside. I asked out loud to no one in particular, “What kind of voodoo is this? Did a witch make all the lightbulbs disappear?” Then I looked to my right and, to my horror, I saw posted on the window that the library closes at 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. If this were Sunday, I really would have messed up because they’re closed all day. I opened my bag and said to my library book, “I’m sorry I didn’t get you home on time, but I am returning you the same as when you left. I hope I don’t have to pay a fee.” Then I remembered the last time I was late, they told me they don’t charge late fees. They didn’t even ask what my intentions are with their library.
I go home, disappointed in myself, but I have to remember that this is a learning experience. When I’m in my recliner, I read the last two chapters of The Stitch-Free Lover. It was so good, I had to read it twice. At least I didn’t have to renew it and keep it from someone else even longer. That’s the book that made me believe in love again. I can now feel the breeze of a bright future.
Blog 05: Problems
Just like most days, that day was not my day. My Wonder Bread got stuck in the toaster so long that it caught fire. I tried to throw it out the window, but I missed and burned down my house of cards. I am proud that the whole thing burned without collapsing. The fireman didn’t seem too impressed. He also didn’t think it was funny when I apologized for making him late to his Village People reunion.
I needed some peace of mind, so I headed to Laman Library to smother my problems between the pages of a book. Once I was there, I am in desperate need of the restroom. I didn’t want to use my home toilet, because the place smelled like the smoke from my Aunt Martha’s Pall Malls, which brought back painful, prune-filled memories.
I walked into the restroom, and what did I see but a man with a half-eaten giant burrito in his hands. I swear the whole other half was on his face. My presence seemed to have set off some kind of alarm in his head. His eyes were baseballs when he said, “That’s it for the Bathroom Burrito hour. Tune in next time for an interview with my foot!” He then wiped his face with a paper towel, threw it on the floor, and ran off, leaving a trail of ground beef behind. I was disgusted. I thought I should tell the staff, but I didn’t want to be a snitch. I panicked. I needed to get it together, so I told myself: Terrance, this is not that kind of library. You can tell them when life throws you a fast one. They won’t beat you with a dictionary and steal your shoes in lieu of a fine. These are nice people.
I approached the front desk in what I thought was a calm, collected manner.
The library worker behind it said, “Sir, are you okay?”
I said, “I’m, uh, fine. There’s a mess in your men’s room.”
They said, “We’ll get that taken care of. Is there anything else I can help you with?”
I said, “I lost my library card when my beloved house of cards caught fire. It was my cornerstone. How do I go about getting a new one?”
They said, “Um, I’m sorry for your loss. I’ll just need to see a photo ID so I can look up your account, and a replacement card will be two dollars, since your card isn’t expired.”
“That is a small price to pay for access to such fine resources. Paying for this one might make me appreciate it more than the first.”
I needed to use the computer to print, so I hopped on the one next to the printer. I clicked and clicked, but all it would tell me was print release station. Where was my beloved Google Chrome? One of the library workers gently guided me over to the express computers where I logged in with my library card and pin numbers. I came back to the print release station, put in my card number again followed by my money, then I printed. Then I picked up the latest romance novel to warm my heart during my lonely nights and checked it out using my ID. All was right in the world. Except, on my way to my car my right foot tripped over my left foot and I skinned my knee. But the scab was in the shape of Justin Timberlake, which I took as a sign of good luck.
Blog 04: LINC Edition
This morning, my computer exploded in my face. Some of the shrapnel went up my nose, and I just coughed up a microchip. I drew my eyebrows back on with magic marker for the third time this month, and now I’m at Laman Library to use their computers. I lost my library card in the chaos that followed: My epileptic cat, Voltron, had an episode on my desk. The scratch marks on my hand look like Michael Jackson if you squint.
I tell the people at the desk in the computer lab about my conundrum, and they give me a guest pass for now. I can use the computers for two whole hours, which is enough time to fill out my job application, and to get caught up on the vegemite shortage in Australia. People are choking on dry toast down there.
I log onto the computer by clicking Login as Guest, then I type guest and all the numbers, like they told me. I fill out my job application and, when I’m done, I can’t find the submit button. Heaven help me. I throw myself on the mercy of the desk. They come over and find the button at the bottom of the application. It must have been hiding in some sort of cyberspace camouflage. I then print off my application information page that it showed at the end.
I leave, showing the staff my handsome, smiling face as my thank you.
Blog 03: We don't have your book?
If I were eyelashes, I would be short, sparse, and in desperate need of mascara. Of course, my actual eyelashes are an American classic. What I really need is the newest book by my favorite author, Daphne Baker. You might say that romance novels are what really accentuate my features, like a good highlighter. Just kidding, I don’t know what that is. I’m a man. And so was David Bowie.
Anyway, I have once again parked in front of my favorite library, ready for them to serve me up a fresh helping of D Bake. I look on the new shelf, and you wouldn’t believe it. My book’s not there. Someone may have checked it out. Who wouldn’t want to read a romance novel about a forbidden romance between a nudist and a tailor’s daughter? I search for it on the OPAC, and it isn’t there. I’m not the best speller, so I ask the front desk to look it up for me. The desk says nothing, as it is an inanimate object, so I ask the person behind the desk.
She searches for it, and tells me that they don’t have it. Though it is hard for me to admit, I flew into a rage so hot, there must have been volcanoes in my eyes. I demanded to speak to whoever orders the books. I need to read The Fabric-Free Lover, or my heart will erupt.
They call down the acquisitions librarian, and I demand to know why I am being deprived of my full-frontal joy. She tells me that it hasn’t been ordered yet, because the demand wasn’t quite high enough. I tell her that it is number nine on the romance list. She hands me a suggestion form, which I can ask for at the front desk whenever I need it. Since the book is fairly new and popular, it will probably be ordered. If they get it, it will be put on hold for me, and I’ll be called the day it comes in. If not, I’ll still get a call. I’ll make sure I’m sitting down when I answer the phone, just in case. I breathe. I will keep coming to Laman, even though I feel like the fabric that attempted to constrain the bare-bottomed Romeo I desire to read about. Before I leave, I check out the book sale. The books are only a quarter a piece, so I buy sixteen for four dollars.
I leave the library, hopeful that I’ll get to read my book without paying nineteen dollars at the bookstore, and I point my car in the direction of Ulta Beauty. I mean Home Depot, which isn’t far from Ulta Beauty where I’ll buy something for my wife who I’m totally still married to, not mascara for me.
A few weeks later, I am sitting in my Perfectly-Good-Work-Ethic Boy Recliner, reading The Fabric-Free Lover. It ends with a beautiful compromise between the nudist and the tailor, where the nudist agrees to wear a clear bowtie to his wedding and nothing else. But the father of the bride is happy to design such a garment. I am pleased.
Blog 02: The Children's Department
I pull up to the Children’s side, where me and my Penelope stroll in like it’s the red carpet. Why didn’t anyone take our picture? Who am I wearing? Wal-Mart and Hanes, thank you very much. Penelope’s a good kid, I tell the front desk, even though she never eats her vegetables, and she once karate chopped a man in half for looking at the back of her head the wrong way. So naturally, I need to sign her up for a library card. I return my books, which I can also do in the Children’s Department. I ask if there is a fine, and they say they don’t charge for late books.
I ask what I need to do to sign Penelope up for a library card. I tell them I have a copy of her mugshot if they need it. They tell me they only need to copy my information onto her account, since she’s there with me. While we’re getting that taken care of, Penelope plays with the toys they have available.
enelope’s card is ready to go. They have Storytime every Tuesday and Wednesday at ten-thirty in the morning, which I’ll be sure to tell her mother about. I ask them if they can look up and see if they have the movie, Labyrinth. It was my favorite as a kid. It’s available to stream on one of the lovely apps they offer. I’m glad they’re making David Bowie accessible to the youth of America.
I turn around, and Penelope has left the toys behind and has some Captain Underpants books that I totally didn’t ask her to find, along with a cool one about leopards and such. I ask them if they have The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and they get it from the Teen Center for me. We leave, feeling satisfied. She’ll have something to do while I kick back and watch the Goblin King prance around in all his spandex glory.