Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Conundrum Attack Spider-man!

A curious couple came in the other night. The female half was a busty, bubbly red-head wearing a t-shirt that some people might judge to be a wee bit tight--not me, mind you. Her husband was kind of a good ol' boy, with a stubble-beard, a trucker cap and something of a mullet going on in the back of his head. He also had a large white bandage wrapped around one of his forearms.

They returned some books and set about looking for new ones to check out. Cool beans.

After a while, wee tight shirt bubbled up to the desk and said, "Do you still have that book I really liked as a kid?" She grinned broadly at this, conveying to me that she realized the absurd nature of the question but had to ask it anyway, as she didn't know the title or author.

"Um... Maybe."

"It had a white cover with a drawing of a girl on a cliff," she said.

Something in my head pinged at this--librarian Spidy-Sense or something. I distinctly felt an echo ping from the S shelf of our Easy Reader section. Still, this didn't connect to anything else in my head.

"Err," I said. "Not ringing too many bells with me."

"It was, like, a book of poems and drawings," she said.

Suddenly it popped into my head--or rather, it didn't, but I knew what it was in a kind of instinctual way. Ping. Ping. Ping.

"Oh! Wait! I know what that is... I do..." My brain strained to recall the author. I could see the book in my head, the girl on the cliff, black and white pen and ink art, and it was indeed in the Easy Reader S-section. Famous kid's author... my wife adores him... I think he lives in New York....

"Crap, why can't I remember his name?" I said. "It's... right.. there... Argh!"

Instead of standing there squinting and droning on like an idiot, I decided to just go get the bloody book. I marched to the childrens' room and began the search through the wildly chaotic Easy Reader section. Everything there is subdivided by the first letter of the author's name, but beyond that there's little order. I hate sending patrons in there for books because they can never find anything so I usually go and do it myself.

Turns out, the book in question was checked out, but I found another one by the same author, Mr. Shel Silverstein. Upon discovering it, the woman became even more bubbly, if such a thing were possible. She gladly took that book.

"Oh, and do you have any books about spiders?" she asked. It seems her husband had recently been bitten by a brown recluse, hence the bandage on his arm. He was actually bitten several days ago, but didn't know exactly what had bitten him. He went to the hospital, but the folks in the emergency room said it was just a bug bite and sent him home, saying it would be fine. The next morning, when the wound had started to necrose into a quarter-sized crater, he decided it wasn't fine and went back to the ER to give the docs another guess. Much treatment followed and he now has a rotting wound of about three fingers diameter and a depth to the first knuckle in the center of his forearm.

"Show him, show him!" the woman said.

"He don't want to see it," the man said. "He might want to go home to dinner."

I really didn't want to see it, though I felt like maybe I ought to have a look just so I'd have something fun to describe to my med-student wife. She would want a look if she were here. Instead, I just winced in sympathy for his suffering. The man said his wound was nothing compared to a friend of his who had been bitten on the stomach and was still in the hospital having to watch bits of his belly rot away. Yowch!

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An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.