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No, Sir, Our Interactions Have Been Purely of a Reference Nature

by Nicolette Warisse Sosulski -- librista@gmail.com on November 3, 2015

I was working the desk toward the end of a Saturday afternoon and a large man (at least 6’4”) with a two-foot-long curly blue-black ponytail came up to me in some distress. Printing was not working for him and this was urgent. “It’s the playlist for my band’s gig tonight. I have to make it work!” Under his leather jacket he is perspiring, and is quite agitated.  Apparently he was lead in a KISS tribute band.  I reassured him he would not leave the library without it, we got the print job to work, and then made the necessary copies. He wrapped me in a bear hug, nearly lifting me off the ground, and said “you saved my life. I’m Joey. Thank you–thank you so much.” Then he left.

Fast forward 1 ½, 2 years.  My Gene Simmons patron walks by the desk, and I say, “Hi, Joey” in a friendly, professional way.  He gets a haunted look on his face (he is with a woman) and disappears. About half an hour later he sidles up to the desk, looks left and right, and in a lowered voice says, “Um, I am sorry, but how do I know you?” I start to tell him that he has come in the library to use the public computers and I have worked with him, but he continues, “Cuz, you see I am in a BAND and…” and then he looks at me with sort of an embarrassed look.  I look back, and the penny drops. He is trying to figure out if I am somebody whom, after a concert, in a substance-filled haze, he may have had sex with but cannot remember.  He is worried because, even for rockers, this is bad form.  I take mercy on him. “Sir, every interaction we had was right here, and of a reference nature.”

“Oh, GOOD!” he exclaims.  He does not wipe his forehead, but comes close. I try to keep my poker face on.  Then a realization dawns on him that expressing heartfelt thanks that one DID NOT have sex with someone—to the person that he is grateful he did not sleep with—is probably also bad form, and possibly insulting besides, so he attempts to amend the situation: “Not that you’re not cute and all…” This is quite outside what I have read in Emily Post (my mother made me purchase a copy as a young adult), but saying “thank you” is never amiss, so I thank him for the compliment. He goes on to comment on my “cool pants.”  Then a thought strikes him. “You remembered me. How?”  I reply “this town is kinda Mayberry. How many six-foot-plus men with long blue-black hair do you see in the library?”  He says “Just me.” I smile and nod and he leaves again.

A couple months later my patron comes in to see if we have a biography on Eric Carr. We do not and I get it via interlibrary loan. While entering the ILL I comment idly about his period with KISS, and Joey is impressed that a librarian has heard of–and indeed knows a little bit about–this musician. In a week and a half he comes in to pick it up. Since he has called it a “hold” rather than an interlibrary loan, Circ has not been able to find it, so he comes to me and I find it, remembering the title. Given that Joey is the lead singer in a KISS tribute band, remembering the book is no real feat, but he is impressed. He tells my boss I am awesome and his “main reason for coming in.”

A few weeks later…
Joey enters the library and comes up to me at the desk, and I ask if he enjoyed the book. He looks very serious and says, “can I speak to you in private?”  I am not sure how private I am ready for, so I step away from the desk and into the mysteries.

“How can I help you?”

“Will you go out with me?”

Having expected a request for information or advice of a sensitive nature rather than an invitation, I am thrown, and pause for a moment.  Carefully I respond. “I am really flattered, but I am not in a place where I am dating right now.” He looks a little crestfallen and says “Really complicated, huh?” I shudder to think what a rocker who has hazy or no memories of his interactions with female fans might think was “complicated” so I give a little more detail than I might otherwise. “I am recovering from a breakup and not really feeling like jumping into the dating pool.”  He straightens up and says, “well, don’t let that make you get down on yourself. He was dumb. You are friendly and nice and smart and HAWT!” Emily Post would only have one response to that—I think—though it was not covered at all in the book I read: “Why, that is very sweet. Thank you.”

“In fact, I probably should not tell you this, but I do not want you to be down on yourself and have low self-esteem—I have had wicked fantasies about you.” And he shakes his head and fans his hands dramatically in the “way hot” gesture. “Well, thank you. Again, I am flattered.”

He leaves the mysteries, saying “Goodbye, and keep positive!”

The things they don’t teach you in library school…