Sunday, January 09, 2005

Armchairs: The Hidden Menace

"May I speak to the person in charge here?"

I look up from my keyboard - it's one of our regulars, a scholar from the former Soviet Bloc with a tendency towards crankiness. This can't be good.

"That would be me."

"Good," she replies, her lips pursed in contained outrage. "I was just in the Periodicals Reading Room, where the library bought these big leather armchairs. Honestly, I don't know why there should be armchairs in a library!"

"Umm." I certainly didn't see that one coming.

"Well I was in there like I said, and there is this... couple... in the room with their jackets and coats all over the place and she was on top of the other one like it's their own living room or something."


"Can you go over there and tell them to cut it out?"

"Excuse me?"

"You're the person in charge, aren't you?"

"For the Circulation Desk. I don't have any authority over there."

"But can't you just tell them to behave themselves?"

"Isn't there someone at the desk over there?"

"Yes," she sniffs dismissively. "But he just laughed at me."

Now I'm laughing at her. I'm reasonably sure that however offensive a public display of affection, it's not against library policy to sit on someone's lap, and I'm sure as hell not going over there to play the role of vice squad like the character in Michael Griffith's Bibliophilia.

I mean, if they were making out or something, and there was some heavy petting involved, there might be grounds to go over and say something. Or at least sneak a peek. But in the hierarchy of library crimes, seat-sharing seems fairly tame. So it's hard not to laugh.

My Russian vigilante is not amused, however.

"Well, I think it's shameful. I'll go say something myself, if you won't."

"Have at it, lady," I think to myself.

She turns to go accost the young lovers, but leaves me with her parting shot:

"This is why they shouldn't have armchairs in the library!"

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