Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Memoirs of a Teenage Librarian ~ By Hannah Hoo

"Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once,” Mr.Biblo said in a deep, melancholy voice, gesturing dramatically with a bony hand.
“I’m not sure, Mr.Biblo. I’d really rather not, “I wrinkled my nose and held the object away from me doubtfully. It was unnaturally white and pasty, and oozed ominously when I held it too tight. A blob of filling fell and hit the round table, then sat and quivered for several moments like a querulous jelly.
He sniffed disapprovingly. ”A coward, a most devout coward, religious in it. Nay, if to- Ouch!”
Mrs. Quill had reached over and whapped Mr.Biblo on the head with her book. “Really, Robert, let the girl eat what she wants. She doesn’t have to eat one of your tofu wraps if she doesn’t want to. How would you like it if we made you eat a hamburger?”
"I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my
wit,” he said with upturned nose, then returned to reading his ever-present volume of Shakespeare. Mr.Biblo was rather like a reincarnation of the great bard himself, in both appearance and personality. Thin and pale as a nerd at a swimming pool, the top of his head was shiny bald and dark hair like curly ramen noodles fringed the back. He even had a small gold earring like the great poet, though I suspect it was a fake. A tall, unshaven pencil of a man that chooses to forever write nothing but Shakespeare, that was Robert Biblo. I’ve yet to hear him speak anything that wasn’t once spoken by the bard.
Mrs. Quill returned to eating her own lunch: a tray of KFC and a cup of coleslaw. Mrs. Quill has the amazing ability of reading while eating and never spills a drop or loses her concentration. A tear or two dripped into her coleslaw at an especially sad bit of her romance book. For a librarian, I was surprised she read the rubbish books where the main characters always forget to put their shirts on, yet she reads them like new paychecks.
“No, no! Lillian, he murdered Chris! Don’t you see? It’s just like that time you eloped with Phillip and the mother tried to poison you,” Mrs. Quill ate ferociously fast in her anger at “Chris”.
I don’t actually know Mrs. Quill’s first name; no one does. Mrs. Quill is the grandmotherly kind of person you could know all your life and never know her first name or her age. She was rather like a warm teapot: round, responsible, and bubbling with surprises; things like her romance novels and the tattoo of a pink Elvis Presley on the back of her neck. Her hair is white blond, always braided in a crown around her head. Her clothes are huggable, cozy cardigans and modest skirts. The only thing remotely sharp about her is her heels, colorful and surprisingly tall. Life Lesson #27 of a Teenage Librarian: People aren’t always what they seem.
The door creaked open, and Tim backed into the room with arms full of food. His loud Hawaiian shirt was like watching a car accident; scary yet you can’t tear your eyes away. Tom, in essence, is Ziggy; only with hair and pants. His voice could lull a baby to sleep, inspire world peace, any make kittens and bunny rabbits pop out of thin air. He was the kind of guy who would have gotten bullied in school, only he gave the bullies anger management classes instead.
“Hello, everyone,” Tim’s face beamed with a calm smile, “I hope you are enjoying your lunch break. This is such a bright day, very sunny. All those nice people coming to find books. I helped a man find “Aliens for Dummies” just a minute ago. He seemed very pleased.” Bags of fast food pooled on the table, from McDonalds to Taco Bell. Like Ziggy, Tim was very round and cuddly, like a life size teddy bear…a life size teddy bear with an affinity for Hawaiian shirts.
I reached under my chair and pulled my own lunch out: a banana and mayonnaise sandwich. No one else understands my B’n’M sandwiches yet to me they are pure delicious.
I am Lucinda Springs, and this summer I decided to gain extra credit points for high school by being a junior librarian. Only a few weeks on the job, I realized that a library is a far more interesting place than I ever would have suspected. On slow days, I can wheel my book cart through the aisles, methodically replacing books and people watching. Teenagers kissing in the reference isle, math whizzes looking up “How to be Gangster” on YouTube, balding men talking to shrinks about life and love, one of my fellow librarians doing the tango with a encyclopedia when he or she thinks no one is looking, a grandmother picking her nose. Life Lesson of a Teenage Librarian #28: People don’t seem to realize that there are other people at a library (much to my amusement).
There was one person missing from our motley lunch crew: Julia Hones. Julia was an odd duck, to say the least. She’s the human form of an email signature, and is constantly in her own little world, thinking unique Julia thoughts or saying strange Julia things.
“Have you seen Julia?” I ask everyone.
“Fell into a sadness, then into a fast, thence to a watch, thence into a weakness, thence to a lightness, and, by this declension, into madness wherein now he raves, and all we mourn for,” said Mr.Biblo, making things clear as concrete. Life Lesson #29 of a Teenage Librarian: Don’t ask Mr.Biblo anything and expect a real answer. Ever.
“Wha- Oh, no I haven’t, dear. Last I saw her she was doing tai-chi on the roof.” Mrs. Quill barely paused in her reading.
Tim looked up at the ceiling as if he could receive a heavenly visitation at any moment delivering news of Julia’s whereabouts. Or maybe just wondering how one gets onto the roof, anyhow. He paused, and then shook his head. “I don’t know.”
A new voice, slow and thoughtful, said, “Do Lipton employees…take coffee breaks?”
“Julia? Where are you?” I looked around. The walls of the break room were more book than wall, and the only furniture was the lunch table and chairs. Unless she had crawled into the air ducts (and that wouldn’t be too surprising), the only other place she could be was…
We all looked under the table. Sitting in the yoga lotus position with her eyes closed, was Julia.
She opened her eyes, realizing we were all staring at her. “What? I was pre-meal meditating.”
She crawled out from under the table and pulled up a chair, sitting down cross-legged. Mrs. Quill, Mr.Biblo, and Tim were used to Julia’s strange and mysterious ways by now. I, however, was still new enough to be startled to find her doing sun salutations on the filing cabinets.
We all assumed the only reason Julia was a librarian was so she doesn’t have to work. Mostly she adds artistic touches to the library and runs the main website. She was in her 20’s and looks like a gypsy; beaded wrap-around skirts, sandals with knee-high leather laces, colorful pheasant blouses and puffy sleeves. Enormous gold hoops and wild curly ebony hair that you can see bobbing above the shelves as she walks through the library. Her only feature that looked even faintly librarian is a pair of metallic glasses.
“Mmmfle gloouf mamfre?” she said through a mouth of salad.
She swallowed, and blinked like a butterfly sunning its wings. “Why are there 5 syllables in the word monosyllabic?”
I shrugged. “I don’ know. Ask Mrs. Quill.”
Mrs. Quill’s head popped up. “Ask me what?”
“Sweet are the uses of adversity, which, like a toad, through ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel on its head,” read Mr.Biblo from his book, oblivious to the current conversation.
Mrs. Quill’s eyebrows furrowed. “What? You want to know about toads?”
“When in the why and the wherefore is neither rhyme nor reason?” Mr.Biblo asked in confusion.
Julia raised an eyebrow at Mr.Biblo. “If you had a million Shakespeare’s, would they write like a monkey?”
“She speaks…yet she says nothing!” sniffed Mr.Biblo sarcastically.
I leaned back and sighed happily to myself, watching the lunch entertainment as I ate. Mr.Biblo and Julia were now having a mini food fight, throwing intelligent insults and tofu wraps. Mrs. Quill began to argue with her book characters again, and Tim was trying to calm everyone down. Life Lesson #30: Lunch with librarians in never boring.

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