Serving coffee, lemonade and cookies this evening for the Parish Ministries Fair after the 7 o'clock Mass, I was called over to the Knights of Columbus table. He had seen me at the library, where he thought I must be a volunteer. Whom should he see about our helping his Boy Scouts earn their library merit badges?
Dear reader, where to begin? Two or three times a year I get this; always, I suspect, from men who do not themselves read books, but who nevertheless think that libraries are worthwhile and desirable for schoolchildren and old women.
I guess I should feel flattered. They want to address me as a peer, but cannot reconcile their perception of me with the idea that I would be a librarian. Surely I have made my pile in business, and rather than rest on my laurels, I give back to the community by volunteering at the library. Aren't librarians women?
Librarians rank a little lower than public school teachers. Our job, people suppose, is to shush people and badger them about overdue books. That there is an interesting and current collection of materials on the shelves, that we can show you how to operate a computer, that we know the best place to look for information you need, is unknown to these incurious men. How could they know that we had to earn post-graduate degrees to even apply for our jobs? They simply have no idea.
"When an early autumn walks the land and chills the breeze
and touches with her hand the summer trees,
perhaps you'll understand what memories I own.
There's a dance pavilion in the rain all shuttered down,
a winding country lane all russet brown,
a frosty window pane shows me a town grown lonely."