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How To Checkout a Library Book: A Comedy This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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First, you must enter the library, pausing a bit as the sliding doors hiss open, thus leaving you with a sense that you’ve entered the Enterprise. The hum of voices at the checkout counter will be the first thing you hear. You walk through the detectors with a mix of confidence that you are not in possession of a stolen DVD and curiosity whether the alarms will go off because of the pocket knife in your purse. People scurry past as you enter, guarding their stacks of books like squirrels hoarding nuts. You scan their faces, checking to see whether there are any adorable, indie rock, poetry junkies that just happen to have a ton of money amongst the hordes, but are disappointed when most turn out to be desperate housewives with their Harlequin romances tucked under their arms or computer programmers wearing argyle sweaters and carrying their light summer reading (usually a nonfiction book of varying subjects, usually chemistry, calculus, NASA, conspiracy theories involving the CIA, etc).

Then, as you pause for a moment at the “new books” shelves, you wander toward the stairs leading up to the young adult section. Chunky guys in black t-shirts and wearing their hats backwards because they’re gangster, sit in the lice-ridden lounge chairs, either texting or reading magazines about video games. The young adult stacks are a familiar haunt; you may not have read all of them, but you sure as hell know exactly where the Tamora Pierce books are and can point out the nearest Allende novel, as well as those classics including Ender’s Game, Summer of My German Soldier, and 1984. For inspiration, on the wall near the nonfiction hangs a poster of Frodo posing in a tree with a book.

Next, you immediately skip over the stacks and head for the new books in hope of finding some romantic comedy that’s dramatic enough to be unreal but adorable enough that you won’t be bored by the insipid, recycled humor about girl-meets-guy-betrayal-fall-out-realize-they-made-a-mistake-kiss-and-make-up-because-they’ve-found-their-one-true-love-and-that-just-makes-you-sick-with-envy storyline. Disappointed that such a book isn’t available and the copy of the sequel you’ve been dying to read is checked out, you instead grab a book whose cover has engaged you. Who said you can’t judge a book by its cover? Because you are confident in the idea that a book with an intriguing and glossy cover usually means it’s well-written, you think, “What the hell! It’s worked before,” and head back down to the checkout counter where you wait in line for five minutes as a homeschool family, with their hair in complicated braids and wearing jeans skirts, checkout three full bags of books in the Little-House-On-the-Prairie style, complete with do-it-yourself canning instructions. The woman at the counter looks like she’s about to go into cardiac arrest by the time the last bonneted cover is scanned. To make the woman’s day, you approach with your single book in hand and a sympathetic look as you glance meaningfully at the retreating troop of pioneers. She nods gratefully, takes your library card, scans it, and asks whether you’d like to pay the $1.45 you owe in overdue books. You have to raise your voice a bit over the printer as you regretfully decline. She pulls a tight, shiny smile out of her a** and hands you your book, explaining the due date and wishing you a nice day in a plastic voice. You return the favor, imitating her tone and saluting as you depart, wondering again whether you’ll set off the alarms.

Finally, feeling lucky that you’ve escaped without security tackling you, you leave the library with a lightness to your step and the perfect book in your hand.

Rinse and repeat.



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Babylufin said...
Jul. 30, 2010 at 3:51 pm:

I enjoyed this, very captivating. I loved the details, and the settle sarcasm of it all. I do wonder, though, how this is a comedy?

Overall, I really liked it. :) Good job.

Please rate/comment on my story Don't Kill Me Now?

 
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