Wednesday, April 28, 2004

No shoes, no shirt, no dice 

When spring weather hits town many of our patrons thoughts turn to flights of fancy (see the DSM IV & Tennyson). As the temperature becomes milder patrons often need to be gently reminded of the library dress code, which although lax, does require shoes and shirts. I have to say that I’m blown away by the number of people who wander around this city barefoot. I’m not even talking about the mentally ill who don’t know any better, but hippie Bohemian types who skip around the city streets like they’re Zola Budd. What are these people thinking? This city’s sidewalks are an obstacle course of health hazards: little ponds of saliva from old men of a certain ethnicity who will not be broken of their spitting habit, bottlecaps, glass, dog/human feces, thorns, litter, and other disgusting pathogen bearing matter that I don’t know what else to call but filth. They're just asking for some hookworm to drill its way up through their heel. (OK, that’s just in the South where I grew up, but still. Have some common sense.)

On the first day of good weather last year, a homeless man wearing only soiled khaki clamdiggers walked in and approached the reference desk. I used to keep some a bottle of hand lotion at my desk because the hand sanitizing lotion that I was rubbing on my hands compulsively was very drying, so I liked to alternate between the two. Before I could tell him that he needed to have a shirt on to be in the library he spotted the lotion and asked,

“Mind if I have some of that?”

Not waiting for a reply, he leaned over my desk and vigorously pumped about a third of the bottle's contents into his hand. He then began lovingly and sensuously rubbing it all over his upper body. After he was finished caressing himself, he stood preening before me. After inspecting himself carefully to be sure that he had applied the lotion evenly and thoroughly, he thanked me. He then sauntered out, a new and confident hitch in his step, and I never saw him again. Now I keep my lotion in a drawer, hidden away from the public's sight.

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