The public library, like the elevator and the airplane, is a sexually charged environment. Perhaps because it's so quiet. Or maybe it's the allure of all those neglected and poorly lit nonfiction grottoes. I won't pretend to understand it, but I can't deny the library's erotic appeal and neither can you. Who among us wouldn't want to clear that microfiche machine off the table and get down to business?
Part of my job involves scouring the aisles, closets, and bathrooms at closing time and forcibly nagging anyone who might have ambitions of getting busy while the library's sleeping. I've never witnessed anything dubious on my watch. I suppose the library's intrigue isn't just limited to sexual escapades. One suspects the public library is home to all sorts of shady subterranean affairs: briefcase exchanges, D&D meet-and-greets, Illuminati conspiracies, Elk Lodge assemblies, and so on. Which is part of the reason why I flip through and vigorously shake every book I put away, in the hope of finding some compromising scrap of paper alluding to the backdoor goings-on that I just know are going on. If a treasure map were to suddenly drop to the floor, I would clock out and commandeer a skiff immediately.
But mostly I find No Frills receipts, condom wrappers, religious bookmarks, Post It notes covered with Dewey decimal numbers scrawled in the childlike penmanship of a Large Print reader, and even these are few and far between. So you can imagine my excitement when today I found, nestled up against a row of Sue Grafton murder mysteries, a love note, which I will reproduce here:
[Boy's handwriting]: Hurry before Chris gets here.
[Girl's handwriting]: I'm from Norway
When u leaves will u write me?
I went to a diff HS in 1 yr
Do you have a "print phone?"
West then Westside - had to live w/my aunt
my dad raised bait earthworms
Notes are cruel. You read each line with mounting excitement and then ... and then? Now I am left to wonder what will happen when this Norse Queen and the heir of a suburban earthworm empire collide. And meanwhile, the women come and go, talking of Paulo Coehlo.