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University Library: The Stacks

September 19, 2018

You never knew what (or whom) you would find in the stacks.  (image via wikimedia)

A college sex comedy without sex sounds pretty lame, but that’s what my first semester at State University was like.  My dorm roommate was getting some at least twice a week, and everybody (except me) thought it was hilarious.  Whenever Kirk showed up with a drunk chick (he would be drunk too, so everybody was okay with it back then; there were no pre-sex mutual consent forms in the 1980s), I’d head out to the University Library to study/sleep for the night.  It was open 24 hours, and there were lots of places to fall asleep without getting noticed.

Some people found quiet rooms or open areas in the lobby for study groups, but almost everybody avoided the stacks.  Students would use the stacks for research when they had to, but otherwise, they stayed away.  The shelves lurched to the ceiling and were filled with old dusty cobwebbed books.  Once when I had curiously pulled one from the shelves, I had a sneezing fit and woke up a couple sleepers a few aisles away.

You always felt isolated if you spent too much time in the stacks.  An urban legend even told the tale of a naked guy who would chase a terrified/disgusted coed around the top floor (where the most obscure books were) once a year, but the naked guy never got caught, so none of us believed the story.

It was a Friday, and Kirk had already declared he’d need the dorm room, so I was looking for a place to camp out for the night.  I had just gotten off work (a telemarketing job that I hated, but it paid a lot more than minimum wage and there was a commission, and a Friday night shift meant that I was done for the weekend).

My voice was scratchy from all the sales pitches.  I knew I wasn’t really going to study.  I had a spot in a corner on the third floor where I could sleep just fine without being disturbed.  I had a few comic books secured in a folder in my backpack.  As soon as I pulled them out of the folder, Brenda popped out from behind a book shelf.

“So you did go to the comic book store today,” she said almost cheerfully.

“What, are you KGB or something?” I said while putting the comics back in the folder, even though they’d already been spotted.

“No, just good timing,” she said.  “This is what I do when I’m bored on a Friday night, wander the University Library.”

“You shouldn’t be up here so late by yourself,” I said.  “The naked guy might get you.”

“Do you think he’s real?” Brenda asked.  She moved so close to me that I could smell the minty gum in her breath.  “I bet it happened once years ago and now everybody exaggerates it.”

“I don’t think it really happened,” I said.  “I think some guy probably walked out of a restroom adjusting his fly, and some girl freaked out, and the fly adjuster became the naked guy over time.”

Brenda pondered this.  “That seems like a stretch.”

I thought about explaining that I hadn’t been serious about this theory, but I decided to commit.  “No, back in the 20s or 30s or whenever, adjusting your fly would have been a big deal, especially if you made eye contact with a woman and then made a creepy face.  He probably licked his lips or something.  That would have been a moral equivalent of walking around naked today.”

“Do you spend time thinking about stuff like this?” she asked.

“I’ve never thought about walking naked in the University Library.”

Brenda’s mouth hung open.  Then she said, “What are you doing tomorrow night?”

Crap, I thought.  I hoped she wasn’t about to ask me out.  She’d been hanging around me for the last few weeks, and I’d been trying to avoid her.  It wasn’t that I thought I was too good for her.  Back then, I had a lot of issues that made me unappealing to a lot of women.  I just didn’t find her attractive, and I didn’t want a girlfriend for the sake of having a girlfriend.

“I’m probably designator driving,” I said.

“Your asshole roommate.”

“And a few other friends,” I clarified.

“You know where all the good parties are,” she said.

“Not really.  I’m not the one who gets invited.  I’m just the driver.  But I get to go.”

“Maybe… when you hear about the party, do you think you can tell me about it?”

“There’s not a lot of room in my car,” I said.  I wasn’t making that up.  The back of the chevette scooter had room for three (officially), but we’d stuff five back there if we had to.

“I can get there myself,” she said.  “I’m just bored.  Dorm life is not what I thought it would be.  I need to get out of that place, and I never know where to go, except here.”

I actually felt sympathy for her.  Brenda spiked her hair and dressed cool, but she annoyed everybody.  Then I finally understood why she was always trying to hang out with me.  I knew all the cool people in the dorm.  I wasn’t a cool guy, but I hung out with the cool guys.  I was an honorary cool guy, even if I spent most of my free time in the University Library.  I could have been offended that she only wanted to be around me because of my friends.  Or I could have felt relieved that she wasn’t looking for a romantic entanglement.  To be honest, I actually felt relieved.

But this was soon going to cause a problem that there was no way to foresee.

*****

To be continued.  Or you can start here to read University Library  from the beginning.

From → Dysfunctileaks

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