The Contrarian Librarian: The Childhood Years

, , , , , | Friendly | March 19, 2019

(My university has a lot of young parents attending. There are five or six private rooms in the library that kids aren’t supposed to be in, as there are a crèche and tonnes of other rooms, but my library is PACKED today. I see a woman come in with her little girl who is maybe four or five and I internally groan, thinking I’m going to lose out on a couple of hours of study. The woman sets her little girl up on the chair next to her with a little unicorn lunchbox and an iPad, plugging in some headphones for her. The little girl happily watches a show on the iPad, munches on some snacks, and grins at me when I glance over at her once, mostly to see if she is still there because she hasn’t made a single peep. I can’t help but smile back. She is honestly the quietest person in the whole room. Her mother works on her laptop for about an hour and starts packing up around the same time I do. I walk over to their table as I leave.)

Me: “Excuse me, miss?”

Girl’s Mother: *seemingly uneasy* “Yes?”

Me: “Can I just say you’ve got an awesome kid? I’ve never seen a kid her age behave that well for that long.”

(The mum smiles and thanks me, saying her partner was called into work and couldn’t watch their daughter and she was worried someone would tell them off for being in the kid-free room. The little girl suddenly takes off her headphones and says in a very loud whisper:)

Girl: “Hey, Mummy! We don’t talk in the library! Shh!”

(The mum and I burst out laughing. This kid had a better grasp of library rules than most adults. Way to raise a h*** of a kid, random university lady!)

Torpedoed The Ending To That Story

, , , , , | Related | March 11, 2019

(My grandfather was in the merchant marines during the Second World War. Occasionally, we’re reminded of how interesting his life has been.)

Grandpa: “There was this one time we were in Curacao and this Nazi U-boat fired a torpedo at us.”

Me: “That’s amazing. You never told me that.”

Grandpa: “It’s not that exciting. I mean, they missed.”

Some Families Are Just Meant To Be

, , , , , | Hopeless | March 3, 2019

I volunteer with an animal rescue organization founded by my mentor and best friend. Today, we were at an adoption event hosted by a large pet supply store. Most adoptions need an application, vet references, and time. However, my mentor told me that sometimes you just know it’s going to work out.

We had a young black dog with a white chest stripe. Like most black dogs, unfortunately, there hadn’t been much interest in him. A few applications had been submitted, but the people seemed to be inconvenienced that they couldn’t get another dog. It’s hard to explain — you had to be there. One lady said, “Call me if you find another dog first.” We had fun shredding her paperwork.

About an hour before closing, a young African American couple came in and fell in love with him. They told us they were newlyweds, and decided their wedding gift to each other was to adopt a dog. Our pup loved them, and my mentor took their application and let them go home with a happy, loved dog. We watched as a store employee took them around to buy supplies. They bought a harness and the employee instructed them how to make sure it wasn’t too tight or loose. They were so loving and attentive and let the pup pick out some toys and treats. As they were leaving, they stopped and thanked us again. The husband hugged the pup and happily announced how much their “new son” looked like them! We all had a good laugh and wished them well.

“And that,” my mentor said, “is how you know.”

Singalongs Make Everything Better

, , , , , , | Hopeless | March 1, 2019

During one of my summer breaks while attending college, I take a job as a summer camp counselor. Part of our weekly program involves performing a short play near the end of the week, and I volunteer to be one of the main characters. All goes well until I catch a bad cold. All the coughing I end up doing hurts my throat and makes my voice sound gravelly. I thankfully am not assigned a group of kids that week, but I don’t have anyone to replace me in the play. I rest my voice up as best I can, and even find a funny in-character reason to explain the way I sound. It works, right up until I have to sing a small solo. When I try to sing, absolutely no sound comes out of my mouth. I start to panic a bit, but the other counselors are quick to pick up on what is happening.

Every counselor in the audience knows this song, because of how much they’ve seen the play. So, when my voice fails me, the song only gets a couple bars in before the counselors all start singing my part for me! They don’t hesitate to cover the other bits of singing my character does, either. I swear it’s something straight out of a feel-good high school movie! Ten years later, and thinking about it still makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

We Are Siamese, And We’re Pleased

, , , , , , | Hopeless | February 26, 2019

Fifteen years ago, I finally had a flat to myself again and, full of excitement, I had a friend drive me to a local shelter to adopt me a cat. To be specific, two cats. Indoor cats. Female. Indoor cats are a lot of hard work — and no one likes to deal with litter trays — but my new flat was on the junction of two very busy streets in a pretty grotty neighbourhood so outdoor cats seemed irresponsible.

We pulled up at the shelter and I leapt out of the car like a demented gazelle, giddy as a kid on Christmas morning, and barely managed to wait for my friend before charging inside. I explained what I was looking for to the young lady inside and she took me to look at the cats that were up for adoption. To my shock, about half of the cats seemed to be chocolate point siamese — several hundred pounds a pop, so not what you expect to find in a shelter.

The girl explained that they had all been rescued from a mad old cat lady who was keeping all twenty of them in a one-bedroom house and feeding them enough for maybe fifteen cats. They’d been in a real state when they were brought in, but they’d been fed up and were now full of beans. I was now, if anything, even more excited at the prospect of adopting as the thought of a pair of these magnificent kitties wandering around my flat was really exciting to me. I wandered up the aisle, taking my time and greeting each of the cats in turn, trying to not just yell, “OH, MY GOD! JACK WANT ALL KITTIES! GIVE KITTIES TO JACK NOW!

Cage after cage was filled with these huge, beautiful, and very, very vocal cats, pressing themselves against the front of the cages for pettings. I was totally confused — how would I ever choose? — until I got to the last cage. There, my confusion ended.

In this cage were, once again, two siamese cats. But these two were maybe half the size of the others, and they weren’t pressing against the front of the cage looking for cuddles. They were huddled at the back of the cage, as far away from humans as they could get. I later found out that they were also recovering from cat flu. The cat I would come to know as Sif was huddled into the corner as tightly as she could squeeze herself, and the warrior who would be Freya was lying half on top of her, cuddling as close as she could and I knew. I just knew.

Those other cats, brimming with health and confidence? They could go anywhere, be adopted by anyone, but these two were going to need a special home with someone patient, and I was determined that I would give them that home.

It’s taken years to get them to act like proper, confident goddesses-of-all-they-survey — y’know, cats — and they still get skittish around new people, but Sif will now walk up to people in my flat and demand cuddles — remember, siamese — and even Freya will allow people to pet her, though she has some hilariously specific rules.

And now, beloved readers, those two terrified little cats — the cats I didn’t even see for the first two weeks that they lived with me because they were hiding behind the fridge — those two cats will now not only climb onto my lap at any chance they get but, if I’m wearing a front opening top, they will climb inside that top — with no regard at all for my tender, easily-punctured skin! — and they curl up and they purr and purr as if they’ve finally found their happy spot. And sometimes this makes my face leak, just a little bit.

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