In seventh-grade English class, Trey Sahlberg informed me that he was glad he brought his library card because he was checking me out. I was flattered because Trey Sahlberg was a fox and I loved puns (still do). This would turn out to be an ironic choice for the first pick-up line used on me because four years later, I began working my first regular job – at my town’s public library.
People tend to think of libraries as serene, quiet, magical places where serious people come to study and be inspired by knowledge. But let me tell you, stuff goes down at public libraries. Stuff that proved useful as fodder for many a creative non-fiction story in college.
This included one guy, probably 20 years older than me, who used to follow me around as I shelved books, chatting and eventually asking me out. I made clear I had homework to do – hoping to emphasize the fact that I was still a minor. Eventually the librarians would spot him coming and let me hide out in the back until he left.
I’d forgotten about both of the above instances until two Saturdays ago.
The Palmerston North City Library is architecturally one of the coolest libraries I’ve patronized, resembling something like an airport hanger. At the right time, the top floor’s giant windows afford a spectacular view of sunsets over the city and provide such much-needed Vitamin D during winter.
I was writing a letter home in this part of the library when I noticed an older guy about to sit down at the desk in front of mine. He was probably in his 50s and staring intently at me. I looked up. He kept staring. I went back to my writing, officially creeped out. He left, and about 30 minutes later, returned, saying, “Excuse me.”
I looked up.
“I just talk, I just talk,” he said, though in his broken English, it sounded appropriately like, “I just stalk, I just stalk.”
Then he asked, “Are you single?”
After about half a second of deliberating if I should tell the truth, I said, “No,” and he left.
My mom keeps saying I should take off the rings I wear on my right hand, as people have mistaken me for married because of them, and apparently she wants a Kiwi son-in-law. And to be fair, the rings are wedding bands, passed down through my family.
I think as long as I keep returning to libraries, I’m going to keep them on. And maybe shift them to the left hand if necessary.
Let’s keep the library-centric flirting to pick-up lines by 12-year-olds, folks. Otherwise it’s just creepy.