Miss, You’ll Have to Leave the Library. Now.

I’ve got my stack of books and happily make my way to the computer stations.  My friend is texting up a storm on my phone and I try to keep up.  How can someone type so fast?

Then one message unleashes the power that is The Black Keys’ Gold on the Ceiling.

I try to turn it off.  It won’t turn off.  Oh no.  My ringtone is the whole song because, you know, it’s awesomeness in motion.

I issue a general apology to people around me.  I explain that I’m trying to turn it off and, either way, the song will be over soon.

“Miss, you’ll have to leave the library.  We’ve received complaints.”

Really?  I didn’t notice any disapproving glances or shushes.  I look around to see who I may have offended:

1.  The drunk passed out on a table and snoring loudly.  I may have interrupted his dreamscape.

2.  The shrieking kids stampeding about throwing books at each other.  The harried-looking adults trying to corral them.  Unlikely they noticed my existence, auditory or otherwise.

3.  The 80-something guy surreptitiously surfing porn.  Doubtful he’d risk attracting any attention to himself.

4.  The tweaker pacing in front of a CD rack.  He’s watching me watching him watching me.  Yeah, man, the guitar riffs are code.  For: n-a-r-c.

“Miss, you’ll have to leave the library.  Now.”

I gather up my books to check them out before leaving.  The librarian/bouncer smiles at me.  A quietly triumphant smile-smirk.  Aha!  Her glasses and Maoist outfit belie the heart of a subversive.  The Black Keys have offended her sensibilities with their white-bread pseudo-rock.

Nicely played, my friend.

Then someone runs after me, “What’s the name of that song?  It’s great!  Who is it?”

I smile at the librarian/bouncer on my way out.

I ain’t blind, just a matter of time…
It’s all right, ain’t no guard in my house



[Lyrics in italics, from: “Gold on the Ceiling,” by The Black Keys. Original release: El Camino, 2011.]



17 thoughts on “Miss, You’ll Have to Leave the Library. Now.

  1. Pingback: Gold on the Ceiling (Live) | Living a Beautiful Life

    1. Thanks, Bulldog! That would have been amazing! The only other time I’ve seen anyone evicted from the library in such a spectacle is a guy who was ranting and flailing about, finally sprawling himself out on the floor and refusing to move. Librarians called police, who chatted with him and eventually convinced him to sprawl himself out on the sidewalk in front of the library instead. I wonder if The Black Keys are aware of their power?


  2. I thought I’d venture back with this story, adapted from a post I’m working on… When I was young, There was an older German immigrant who worked at the local library who we called “the mean lady at the library” because she was always hushing kids and tossing them out. She never smiled, was always abrupt–unlike the other librarians who could smile and be pleasant when kids were quiet and obeisant. She was brusque at the best of times, and a lot of time reminded me of those angry hitler speeches where he’s all “ich bein swein bocken werner wildenheimer!!” in front of a Nazi flag. We all feared her. It seemed like some of the younger librarians did, too. So, you might understand why I started the rumor that she was an escaped Nazi who had managed to avoid Nuremberg and make it to the Americas. I suppose she wondered, for a while, why a growing constituency of kids not only began visiting the library more often, but were uncommonly hushed and polite, whispering on quietly and when her back was turned, but eventually word got back to her. I learned true depth and power of The Stink Eye after that.. I can still feel her looking at me, that German mind boring through my retinas and burning a path to the back of my smoldering skull. It dawned on me years later that a German of her generation, living in the USA, likely had a reason to be here–and that reason mostly likely was not in the least bit pleasant.


    1. Thanks, Andrew! Your librarian is an excellent reason to visit the library! Only true friends can good-naturedly abuse us. Most of the librarians I’ve met have been wonderfully intelligent and interesting people.


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