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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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