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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Librarian, What are you Wearing? 


I had the most bizarre obscene phone call of my life this evening at the library. For educational and entertainment purposes, I have created a transcript. This is to the best of my memory.

Foxy Librarian: ****** Library. How may I help you?

The voice on the phone was obviously a man’s. I could also tell from the quality of the connection that the phone call was long distance. He sounded elderly and refined but I detected a whiff of Old World corruption. I imagined some elegant but depraved soul like Count Olaf, Montgomery Burns, Hannibal Lector or The Continental.

Good evening. May I inquire as to what time your branch closes this evening?

FL: Of course. We close at 9 PM.

Thank you! How very kind of you. My husband  (It was obviously a man, but maybe he was married in San Francisco or Massachusetts? Why would he lie?)  and I used to live in your neighborhood for many years. Now we live in Oregon in the country. I miss our city apartment, but love all the space we have in the house where we live now. It's very large - over 15 rooms!

FL: Your home sounds wonderful.

May I please tell you that you have a lovely speaking voice. Are you a librarian or an intern?

FL: Thank you. What a nice compliment. I'm a librarian.

Well, you have a cultured way of speaking. I can tell you are well bred. I appreciate that you speak slowly and clearly. (This should have tripped an alarm. I don't sound THAT good, and I tend to mumble.)

FL: Thank you.

In fact, I appreciate your manners and your way of speaking so much that I would like to write a letter of commendation and my husband and I would like to make a large donation to your branch. How would I go about doing that?

I thanked him and told him to call my manager in the morning or the main library.

Oh, manners are not what they used to be, don't you agree? Children are just not raised properly. They do not speak slowly and clearly. My dear, if you were a child, and you came to live with us and be raised by me and my husband, what would you be?

FL: Uh, your ward?

Exactly! And if you were raised in my house, how would you be taught to speak?

FL: Let’s see. Slowly and clearly?

Very good. And, if you were my ward, wouldn't it be important that you always speak in that way, in that consistent manner, even if you were speaking to ill bred children who might be your playmates who spoke way too fast? That you wouldn't mimic their manner and pace of speech? That you wouldn't LOWER yourself in that way?

FL: I - I guess.

And how would I achieve this? How would I ensure that you always spoke so well?

FL: Leading by example?

No, with discipline, of course! Wouldn't you agree that discipline is extremely important?

FL: Er...

And discipline not in just manner of speech, but in all aspects of your upbringing. How would you expect me to discipline you?

FL: I, uh… What?

Let's move on for now. We'll return to this subject later. If you were my ward, how do you think I would expect you to dress?

FL: Uh, Conservatively? (I'M SUCH AN IDIOT)

Exactly! Now describe your height, physical characteristics and what you would wear. Go into as much detail as possible.

FL: I have a line at the reference desk. I'm sorry, but I need to go

Oh, I'll hold. Be thinking of how you would dress if you were my ward.

I'm sorry, I don’t like the direction this conversation -

*CLICK* He then hung up on me.

What an elaborate set up! And how clever of him to lie to me about his gender and then disarm me with flattery and the lure of a letter of commendation and a donation for the library. I felt like such a naive idiot, but please understand my confusion. It had been a really long day, and I get a lot calls that, although legitimate, are really strange. The public can be really freaky. Anyway, live and learn! I guess in the era of caller ID that libraries are one of the last few places to make an obscene phone call with impunity.

Speaking of getting freaky, did you know that there is also a thriving market for librarian pornography? Who would have thought? Human sexuality never ceases to amaze me.

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