Libraries. I love them. Always have. And at least in New York City, they double as homeless shelters, but that only makes me love them more.
Some of my fondest childhood memories are of walking down the street to my local branch of the New York Public Library and sitting in the children's section reading books with my mom or dad. The musty smell of books and the quiet, serene white noise of carts rolling and pages turning have always made me feel at peace. And Juneau has an AMAZING public library system, so naturally I want to share my love of libraries with my own children.
As usual though, fate had other plans, and last night's trip to the downtown Juneau public library was rife with pitfalls, two of which were unexpected and one of which I've come to anticipate.
Now that Paige is reading on her own, she's easy to take to the library. Isaac still requires some guidance and has always had less patience for books than his sister, so I try to follow his lead and hope he has the attention span to let me read to him. This time, he picked out a book of poems by Edward Lear. We sat on one of the cozy couches and opened to "The Owl and the Pussycat." I got to this stanza when I began stumbling:
The Owl looked up to the stars above, And sang to a small guitar, "O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love, What a beautiful Pussy you are, You are, You are! What a beautiful Pussy you are!"
Obviously, the commonly-understood meaning of the word "pussy" in the English language has changed since Mr. Lear wrote this poem in 1871. I glanced around to see who else might be listening to me heap enthusiastic praise on a pussy, not once, but four times. I quickly called a last-minute audible and changed the word to "kitty." But Isaac wasn't fooled and quickly lost interest. He slammed the pussy poem shut and handed me a different book about tigers or some shit.
I opened it up to the title page, and there it was, buried deep within the spine but clearly visible. It was unmistakable. I knew I shouldn't touch it, but in that moment it was almost like my hand didn't belong to me. It took some effort to dislodge it, and as I pinched it between my thumb and forefinger and twirled it about in the light there was no remaining doubt.
It was a pube.
A single thick, black, curly pube that easily could have been one of my very own, but for the fact that I had not (to my recollection) ever even seen this book, much less touched it or had occasion to store one of my own pubes firmly inside of it.
I didn't want to alarm anyone, so I simply dropped the pube over my shoulder as though it had never existed, doused my hands thoroughly with a mini-bottle of hand sanitizer I keep in my bag for precisely this type of situation, and continued reading the now de-pubed tiger book to Isaac.
I don't remember what the story was about, because the whole time I couldn't stop reflecting on the irony of abandoning a poem about pussies only to discover concrete biological evidence of one in the very next book I opened.
No sooner had I completed this thought than Isaac announced he was going to use the computer and "play the Dora the Explorer game with Paige." I had a brief moment of frustration at the existence of screens in a library, but I do realize it's 2016. And who can blame the kid? Given the proper parental controls--which I can only assume are in force in the children's section of a public library of all places--the Dora the Explorer game is, presumably, generally devoid of pussies and pubes.