I had an interesting interaction in my part-time role as a Reference Librarian in a public library from a bit back that I thought might be fun to share on this near-end-of-summer Thursday.
Nearly 8:10pm. We close at 8:30. Tall, thinnish, mid-30′s-40′s white guy in a clean orange polo asks for scrap paper and pencil. He sits at the patron desk right next to my work desk. A few minutes pass as I finish up deleting some old books.
Guy: Excuse me. Do you do art?
Me: ….ANYTHING artistic or did I study it? Are you looking for BOOKS on art? Inspiration of some kind?….
Guy: No. I meant study art. See…. *dramatic pause, looks up at me from under his eyelashes with a smug look of self importance* I’m an Artist.
Guy: …So. I made this….carving.
Me: (Dude I am SOOO not interesting in your carvings…but please DO go on). Okay.
Guy: A BEAR carving.
Me: Out of wood or…
Me: Okaaaay. (Where in the heck is the question here???)
Guy: Yeah. I carved this bear. And, see, I’m a bit disappointed in myself for doing it.
Guy: I mean it’s a NICE bear. Looks like any OTHER carved wooden bear you might see by someone who *gets an additional gleam of self-love in his eye* carved a bear with a SAW.
Me: Mh hmmmm, sure, of course…. (Holy FUCK where is this guy GOING with this?!?!)
Guy: So. It’s a good bear. Even burned it so it’s black. You know, a Black Bear?
Me: ……mmm hmmm
Guy: But I feel like it’s missing something…
Me: (OOH! He needs ideas! I can HELP get him books on that. Reference Librarian Powers: ACTIVATE!) Oh, so you need to figure out how to fin…
Guy: (all interupt-y) No. I don’t need to figure it out. That’s what I was drawing. See. When I was sawing…. carving. I cut a little too deep into the bear’s belly. So, just under his arms there’s this deeper slice. And I was thinking. See…
*gets up to walk the few inches to my desk to show me his “artistic doodle” of a “bear” with a fucking KNIFE in it’s gut.
Guy: I was thinking I could put a KNIFE in that slice, ya know? Something like that. Is that creepy?
Me: You mean this conversation?
Guy: The knife thing.
Me: Oh! (Crap, that was out loud?) Well, no. Have you ever been to the George Pompideou?
Me: Modern art museums? Avant-guarde stuff? Yeah, no. It’s certainly a bit macabre but it isn’t creepy or really that unusual. A conversation starter for sure. (Dear god I’m NEVER gonna get outta here on time. )
Guy: But do you think it would be GOOD?
Me: Do you mean….would it be more MARKETABLE? Or more Artistic? I can’t really speak to either personally….
Guy: Cause it’s a good bear.
Me: *shuffling papers desperately as the clock clicks ever closer to closing time* Right….
Guy: So what kind of knife do you think? A kitchen knife?
Me: (!!!?? What. The. Fucking. FUCK?) Uh….a ginsu? Then you could put a sharpener in the slot and call it a knife sharpener.
Guy: Oh I could put like a credit-card sharpener in it. You know, like from those late-night shows? Where they chop a tomato and a credit card?
Me: (oh. my. god. Just fucking agree with everything. Maybe he’ll go away.) Mmm hmm. Yeah. Sounds good. It would sure be artistic.
Guy: Yeah. Hey thanks for the paper and pencil. I just…wanted to draw that idea out. Here’s the extra. And your pencils back. See: this is the bear. Yeah.
Me: (another night at the public library. Exit, stage left. And SCENE)
What I learned from this adventure?
When a guy starts his question with “So, do you do art”? Your answer should be “No. No, I do not” lest you be dragged into a baffling 10 minutes of hearing an “Artist” describe how he carved a bear. With a saw. And wants to put a KNIFE into the mistake he made in it….so it will be creepy. Or something. Yeah.
It was quite an interesting moment in life and really a great reminder of the vast variety of personalities one can encounter in the public library (and the world in general). Any fun encounters you’ve had lately?