Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Confessions of a Libibliophobe

Have you ever done something for which you are completely and utterly ashamed? Every time you are reminded of the offense you get sick to your stomach? I am about to confess to you something along these lines.

I am really a book thief. I've been masquerading as a suburban wife and mother for the past several years to keep my library crimes hidden. I turned in a library book late. Before you say 'No big deal.'... like six years late. Worse? It was Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place. In large print.

When my husband and I first married and moved into our new home and city, we both got library cards. I was so excited! (yes, I get excited about such things) If I remember correctly, I went back that same week and checked out a book, The Hiding Place, which in fact became the book. I never returned to the library again. (oh the shame!) I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but The Hiding Place became, well, hidden. For several years.

I wish I could say that I just uncovered it this past week, but no. (my cheeks are burning just typing this) I think I came across it during my pregnancy with Claire who is now almost two. Ouch. It was in a drawer. The guilt immediately descended on my body when I saw it. My inner dialogue went something like this: "I've got to return this book. But it's going to be a terrible ordeal and I am pregnant. But it's a library book! It's too far and I'm pregnant. But it's a library book that I stole borrowed! Remember, I'm pregnant? It's a library book...for the visually impaired. Then there is the whole public shaming in the library thing, the stocks, who knows! Pregnant people probably shouldn't return library books. I'll return it after I have the baby when things settle down (hahahahahaha! So naive.)." And no, to my knowledge I am not schizophrenic.

And I closed the drawer. Shameful.

I forgot about the book for a while until it made a brief appearance when we were getting ready to put our house on the market and baby number two was on his way. I added 'return long over due library book, save up for $5000 fine and remove speck giant log from my eye' to my long to do list. It didn't get checked off. The book went back in the drawer while we were showing the house, but I would think about it every now and then and yet it always seemed to be when the library was closed.

This was also about the time that I was uber pregnant, having a hard time getting around, chasing a one year old and preparing to move. There were no free moments, everything had a cost. Yet the book began to plague me. All I could think about was someone with very thick glasses running their finger across the books only to find it missing. For the last six years. Just call me Lady Macbeth.

I had Keaton and we decided to stay put in our house. I came across the book again. (insert shame here.) This is ridiculous. I obviously have a fear of returning an overdue book to the library. What is that even called? Libibliophobia? Worse, my neighbor across the street is a librarian and I was beginning to avoid making eye contact with her. Sin, even "little" sins weigh on you. I decided I would return the book that week.

After the kids went to bed, I headed to the library to turn myself in. No need for children to witness their mother's public shaming. I was a ball of nerves.

I half expected the Library's Most Wanted List with my mug on it to be on the bulletin board or for an alarm to sound the moment I walked through the doors.

Nothing happened. Maybe the library's bouncer was on break. Then I started getting paranoid.

Was that librarian staring at me? She's looking at the book. Does she have an ear piece? I swear she's talking into an ear piece, probably alerting the library crime squad of my presence. It's all over. Joey's going to have to bail me out of Library Jail.

Rather than have the library crime squad tackle me, I decided to go straight to the front desk. I got in line behind an elderly Indian gentleman who eased my stress considerably by surprising all of us with his inquiry as to when a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey would be available. And I thought I was going to surprise them - thank goodness for this guy!

It was my turn.

I was going to be really mature and classy about the whole thing and just tell them the truth. Before I even got to the desk, I started spilling my guts and groveling. Really, really I love books! I am a friend of the library, champion of literacy!

The guy behind the counter took the book and said "2009, huh?", turned to the seasoned librarian next to him and asked if she had received a returned book older than this one. Thankfully, she had - 1999. I asked him about the fine, prepared to write a big one. Ten dollars. Then he asked me if I wanted to renew my library card. What? You still trust me? I was expecting to have my license revoked and was mentally preparing to explain to my children why mommy couldn't take them to library story time until the year 2030.

Grace is a beautiful thing. The worse of it all was when the librarian said it was a shame that I hadn't been to the library to check out a book that whole time. Now, that was a burn. I felt like I just missed out on the last Book It sticker to earn a free personal pan pizza.

Why am I telling you all this? We all have our stuff that we hold onto because of fear. Sometimes it's silly like a library book and sometimes it's serious weighty stuff. But it's all extra weight. I just wanted to encourage you to just turn in the book. You'll feel so much better.

I'm sorry to Ms. Ten Boom, to have done such a disservice to her book and especially to those who needed the large print edition. You can add 'crimes to the visually impaired' to my list of offenses. I must also apologize to my Dad, who has visited the library weekly ever since I can remember and who has also probably never turned in a book late barring an Act of God or because he picked it up for me. And then yes, there is God, we've talked numerous times on this one.

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