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The Literary Girlfriend: Bad Library Behavior

June 27, 2013
English: Corn chips (Fritos)

Eating chips in the public library? That’s very bad library behavior! (Fritos) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even though I lived in a somewhat affluent section of the city, the local public library put up with bad behavior.  Kids ran freely like it was an indoor playground, while parents read or talked.  A homeless guy wandered around the shelves and mumbled (but he did leave everybody else alone).  I overheard loud political discussions that were so obnoxious that I despised everybody who participated, even the person I agreed with.  The librarians were polite, but I felt they were irritated at me which didn’t make sense to me because I always behaved myself.

My local library’s best quality was that they kept a bunch of recent hardcover best sellers.  I bought a lot of books, but I hated buying new hard covers because they were expensive, and they had no “showing off” value after a couple years.  My old hard cover of The Complete William Shakespeare cost me a couple bucks at a used book store, but it was the book that got the most comments when I had visitors.  The Complete William Shakespeare had excellent “show off” value.

The new books were in the center of the library, and I had picked out a Tom Clancy novel (this was 1992, and I hadn’t gotten tired of him yet) when I heard a loud hacking cough from the reading section.  As I scanned the library for the cougher, I spotted a hot chick that looked like Danielle.  Most of the rectangular tables in the reading area were empty (most library-goers preferred the couches and rocking chairs), so she stood out.

Whoever it was had dark hair, but it was matted down that morning, and a book was blocking her face.  I really hoped it wasn’t my imagination because I didn’t want to become one of those obsessed guys. To make sure it was (or wasn’t) her, I moved to the nonfiction aisles, lurking behind the biographies to get a better side glance.

If it wasn’t Danielle, it looked a lot like her, the brown skin, dark hair past her shoulders, slightly inappropriate clothes.  This time her red t-shirt seemed a size too small, her sleeves tight up to her shoulders.  I couldn’t even tell how far her faded cut-off jeans went up while she was sitting down.  But her hair threw me off.  This hot chick’s hair was wet and clung to her face and neck, and it was tough to get a clear look at her features.  It could have been Danielle, or it could have been a woman that looked a lot like her.

After I inched closer, I saw this hot chick was reading a hardcover of Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice.  As she read, her eyes would dart around the library and then return to the book for a few seconds and then they would roam again.  Then her glance went straight in my direction.  We made eye contact, and then she looked down instantly.  Holy crap!  It really was Danielle.  At least, now I was pretty sure.

I didn’t know if she’d recognize me or even remember me.  I wanted to talk to her, to at least say hello, but I wasn’t sure how to introduce myself again.  If she didn’t remember me, what was I supposed to say: “I’m the guy who had your underwear for a month”?  I’d already used that line before in the apartment parking lot.  I was pretty sure a guy wasn’t supposed to use the same line twice on the same woman.  Plus, I’d really feel stupid (or look like a pervert) if this woman turned out not to be Danielle.

I wasn’t even sure Danielle would want to talk to me.  She had been friendly enough a couple weeks ago, but she might have thought I was just a creepy single guy who lived alone in a two-bedroom apartment filled with books.  If she danced at Nero’s (if she had been telling the truth about that), she was used to creepy guys talking to her (and probably touching her too).  She probably didn’t want to talk to another creepy guy who had (inadvertently) kept her underwear for a few weeks.

I moved to the back of the biography aisle where she couldn’t see me, and I stopped pretending to look for books.  I knew I should just go talk to her.  This was lame.  I was being lame.  I knew it.  There was no excuse for it.  I was self-aware enough to know why I was being lame, but that didn’t change the fact that this was inexcusably lame behavior on my part.

Then I heard the loud crinkling of a bag popping open, followed by crunching.  There was a rhythm to the crunch.  Crunch-one-two-three, crunch-one two-three.  This was a deliberately loud crunching of the chips.  This was a type of crunch designed to annoy somebody who didn’t like noises, which is usually everybody in the library (except for screaming kids and the homeless guy).

Since I wanted to be sneaky, I slipped my Tom Clancy book into an empty space on the biography shelf (because I drop stuff and dropping a Tom Clancy book was too risky).   I slid forward a few steps down the row, and my suspicions were right.  Danielle had a small bag of corn chips on the library table.  Her eyes seemed completely focused on her book as she used her free hand to steadily place corn chip after corn chip into her mouth.

Crunch-one-two-three, crunch-one-two-three.

Then Danielle put a hand between her chest and collar bone and coughed, really loudly.  It was a series of extended horse coughs like the one that had gotten my attention earlier.   I’d heard old men clearing out phlegm make less noise than her.  I could have sworn that in her coughs I heard the words “talk to me” a couple times as she blew chip particles (I think) into her fist.  But adults didn’t do that.  I hadn’t heard anybody do the cough-talk in years.

I probably should have rushed to her to see if she was alright, but she was obviously being overdramatic.  The librarians looked like they wanted to shush her, but how do you shush somebody who’s just coughing?  The homeless guy had stopped talking to himself.  Even the screaming kids were silent, watching a hot chick in a tight red t-shirt cough chips into her fist.

Once she was done, she took a deep breath and said, “I’m okay, everybody.”  And then she went back to reading her book.

I tip-toed back a couple steps to think things out.  Danielle was making a scene, and it’s tough for a quiet guy like me to talk to a loud person in a quiet public place, especially if it’s a hot chick.  I was always nervous around Danielle anyway.  If I decided to talk to her now, we’d have an audience.  But the show wasn’t over.

Next, Danielle sneezed really loudly.  It was a long extended “AAAAAACHOOOOOOOOOO!” kind of sneeze that brought the library to another standstill.

“Whew,” Danielle said.  “I don’t know where that came from.”  She waved at the librarians and picked up her book.

Amazing!  Danielle was amazingly cheerful for somebody going through sneezing and coughing fits.  After a half-minute or so, I took a few steps forward to get another glimpse of her, but she was gone.  The bag of chips was still on the table and her chair hadn’t been pushed back in, but she was gone.  Alarmed, I leaned forward to could get a better view of the entire library.  Danielle wasn’t at the checkout desk.  She wasn’t in the reference section.  She wasn’t in the fiction section.  I didn’t think there had been enough time for her to exit yet.  I hoped she hadn’t left.  I started to panic a little.  If she’d left, then I’d blown a chance to talk to her, and this had probably been my last chance.  What were the odds I’d ever run into her again?  Dumb.  Dumb.  Dumb.

I turned around to grab my Tom Clancy book off the shelf, and there was Danielle, one hand holding her own book, one hand on her hip, chest out, stomach in, unblinking eyes aimed right at me.

“So,” Danielle said.  “Are you gonna talk to me or what?”

*****

To be continued in… The Literary Girlfriend: The Meaning of Sucks.

And if you want to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning, start here.

17 Comments
  1. unfetteredbs permalink

    Mmm I like a library romance.

    • As long as the romance isn’t actually “In” the library, I’d agree. I’ve walked into a library romance before (“romance” is probably not the right word), and… well, it’s probably worse than eating corn chips.

  2. Library romances are groovy and all…but who is this chick??? I was prepared to forgive her for being mean to mommies in the laundry, being an over swearer, and even going braless in public. However, Fritos and loud coughing in a library? Those sins are not forgivable.

  3. Ironic that I just returned from the library. The very loud library. I didn’t see any budding romances, though. Just very loud kids, inattentive parents, and frustrated patrons. Now I’m jonesing for some Fritos …

    Monica

    • If you’re going to eat Fritos in a library, a loud library is the place to do it, but you’re probably not the kind of person to eat Fritos in a library (I’m just guessing).

      • I am a great respecter of all things books, especially the sanctuary of the library. But yesterday I had a Slim Jim and a Dr Pepper in the library. Granted, those are pretty quiet snacks (except for the initial opening of the bottle of DP). I am feeling somewhat challenged to eat loud snacks in a quiet library now, though.

        The older I get the more my naturally compliant behavior is challenged to rule-bending. (My inner rebel is very cautious, obviously. And I use the title “rebel” loosely.)

        I did discover yesterday that my local library has some private study rooms. I could eat crunchy foods and pop open sodas like nobody’s business in one of those! (Because I’m such a rebel.)

        M.

  4. I like this Danielle so far. I got kicked out of a library twice, so I have no leg to stand on…I have a loud sneeze. But it’s genetic.

    Look forward to more on this tale.

    • Kicked out of a library? Now there’s a story (or two stories) that I’d like to read. If they’re not on your blog already (I haven’t checked yet), you’ve got a topic (or two).

      • It sounds way more interesting than what it was: talking and spit balls. Wow… that’s embarrassing. I should keep that one under my hat.

      • I should mention too, I was in college, suffering from sleep deprivation, adolescent idiocy, and illusions of grandeur. Oh, youth…

  5. I’ve been that guy before, nervously waiting around the edges for a chance to jump in and make a good impression. Still, it probably comes across as creepy to the girl.

  6. I love libraries. Whenever I’m working at a desk, I can’t help but look up and watch the dramas unfold before me.

  7. Ugh…I have so many assignments to complete and then YOU come along with your comical story and take me to la la land. 😥

  8. Ah… “show off” value. I totally get it. I wish I had enough clarity of thought to come up with that phrase.

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