I’m sure everyone has been to the library at some point in their lives whether it be studying for a test, dragged there by their mom, or meeting up with a group of kids from school to work on a project. The library was one of the only places parents felt safe dropping their kids off because really? What could happen at a library?
Having had friends that scooped up a part time job there I know for a fact…more shit goes down in a library than one would EVER know! From frisky young teens getting down and dirty in the sci-fi section to Jackass wannabes copying pictures of their asses on the 5 cent photocopy machine and for mostly every worker lighting up behind the building…no place is really that sacred.
As a young woman I know some people find it weird that I still visit the library on a semi-weekly basis. Not many think of the library as the “coolest” place to be but for me, it offers comfort and relaxation. As an avid reader I quickly read my way through most of the kids and young adult books in the old library and had nowhere else to go. Before Amazon offered books in a fast and substantially cheap matter, I was left to go spend $20 at Borders for a book a.) I didn’t know if I’d like and b.) I would probably finish in 48 hours whether I liked it or not. Ever since my town finally moved its library to a building that could hold more than 3 books and made it all nice and snazzy, I find the experience of going there a lot more enjoyable. I can take out 10 books at a time (a good 2 weeks of reading for me) and hey! Who can forget…it’s free!
Now for all the pleasure I get from reading these books, it’s really the experience of browsing and seeing which books tickle my fancy that keeps me coming back. Unfortunately for me, this experience was very much ruined the other night. Please allow me to set the scene for you:
It is around 7:30 on a Thursday night. There’s a bit of a nip in the air which, although spring is said to be here, makes it feel more like a winter night. I enter the library and am hit with “the smell.” The one all libraries have. Disinfectant, new books, and a little perfume. A very distinct smell indeed. I head upstairs, passed the floor entitled “Teen Central” which is sure to be filled with tweens getting their Twilight on while lounging in the ever cool beanbag chairs. There are probably a couple of girls my age who snuck in there. Shame on them.
So I make it to the third floor. Automatically my eyes stray toward the ever-present “King of the Library.” The man who sits on his throne (a beige metal disk in the middle of the room) and waits for senior citizens to ask when the next bus trip to Chinatown is or for deviant housewives to beg to be put on the waiting list for the next Oprah’s Book Club book. All this in a day’s work for that man. I can never tell if he really is just that nice or if he secretly takes a huge bong hits in the bathroom to keep the façade from crumbling. I have yet to see this man lose his composure.
Anywho, I pass the flustered 30-something mom who is trying to balance their child’s seven Spongebob DVDs while looking for a romance novel that will provide her with the passion she hasn’t felt from her husband since ’83. To my right is the ever present old man in the corner sleeping with a book in his hand and his head tilted forward. He is no doubt finding this library his place of solace so that his loud, Wheel of Fortune obsessed wife of 50 years will leave him alone.
I head towards the biographies and see the s ever present stressed out high schooler whose books are spread out on the entire table and is typing furiously to finish their 15 page book report before their study group for chemistry comes. They can most likely be found wearing an oversized hoodie of the college they want to attend (on scholarship of course) with the hood up to hide their pale face and unwashed hair. After I see nothing of interest there, I bee-line to the mystery section and began to sort through my options.
As I resign to the fact that the new Harlan Coben book is not there, I suddenly notice an odor in the air. A fairly unpleasant odor. I go to the next aisle and suddenly my sense of smell either became heightened a hundred percent or the smell was just THAT pungent. I look to my left which was apparently the WRONG move when I am hit with a smell that can only be described as a dead animal left on the side of the New York State Thruway decaying in the hot sun for weeks on end. My eyes water, my body tenses as if I am going to make a run for the stairs, and my mind strays to how long could this man possibly have gone without a shower. For starters, he is easily six feet tall, at least 215 pounds. He is wearing a motorcycle jacket with matching boots and perhaps the most disturbing factor is he is holding a naked Cabbage Patch doll.
I am in no way exaggerating. He is sitting at the table coloring in a coloring book holding his doll. As if this scene isn’t creepy enough, the man across from him is also coloring in a coloring book. It seems they were having a dispute over who was a better colorer. If I hadn’t been so assaulted by the smell I might have offered to show them my own skills at coloring. After realizing standing there wasn’t making the smell go away, I skedaddle to the furthest corner of the room to continue my browsing.
The only section I could go to without inhaling the death waft was “large print.” Which happens to be in the darkest corner of the room but I didn’t mind. I can’t seem to concentrate which is probably an after effect of the poisoning smell I had just inhaled. As I try to forget about that ungodly stench, I see a shadow out of the corner of my eye. And right there, hidden behind some awkwardly angled book shelf, is what I believe to be the park lady from Home Alone 2: Lost in NY.
There is no doubt in my mind that I stared at this lady for a good twenty seconds while my brain tried to comprehend why she chose to drag a chair to the dankest corner of the library and hide behind a bookshelf. No answer is popping into my head when I hear a slight noise. I listen more intently and then it comes to me! This lady is sleeping and from what I can hear…snoring. Which makes it all the more disturbing is I could have sworn her eyes were open. I didn’t dare look again. I decided this was too much for me to handle on a Thursday night and I picked up the first book I saw and left the library.
Some may say, did that really deserve a blog written about it? And I would answer…it most certainly did! If your sense of smell was violated as deeply as mine was you too would be concerned about the small children that might have inhaled it. And if you got the shit scared out of you by the possible rebirth of the bag lady from Home Alone 2 then yes I would think you would share your story.