My friend Slant, penned this beauty a little while ago – I came across it recently, and almost busted a rib … he is quite a writer. Enjoy:
BIBLIOPHILE: NOUN: 1. A lover of books. 2. A collector of books
Part 1 of the above definition aptly describes me. I love to read. I love the sight, the scent, the simple tactile thrill of holding a book; this combination creates an atmosphere that allows me to experience an almost transcendental peace-of-mind.
Therefore, with eager steps I strode toward the Free Library of Philadelphia's main branch to find a relatively quiet spot and finish my current book. Settling into a table seat (one of the library's tables that find themselves bisected by two rows of shelves) in an area rated for 80 decibel and under body noises, I achieved relative seclusion.
SMELLY: ADJECTIVE: Informal Having a noticeable, usually unpleasant or offensive odor.
As much as I love the library, the air is rather still and, at times, stifling. So, imagine my surprise when I caught a whiff of Polo or Chanel's new "Hobeaux" fragrance. Trying to decide whether to seek another seat or urinate on myself to cover the stench, I stood to pinpoint the intoxicated source of that intoxicating aroma.
Let us examine the candidates:
gender - indeterminate as the subject was baggily dressed in… bags.
age - indeterminate since the subject was asleep with his/her head inside a tattered backpack.
purpose of visit - possibly to test the relative acoustics of said backpack when snoring through nose, mouth and (of this I am most certain) ears. No reading material in sight.
Conclusion: Noisy as the person was their body odor, regretfully, did not compare.
gender - male.
age - late 50's.
purpose of visit - as with candidate #1, this subject did not seem to be at the library to read (again, no reading material in sight). Candidate #2 seemed to be running lines for a gay porno. Slouched in seat he - in a rich baritone - exhaled various moans, groans, lip-smacks, unintelligible utterances, each sound punctuated with its own violent grope of a different part of the body.
Conclusion: Such an accomplished thespian could not be the mobile shit/piss fragrance factory, so I dismissed him.
That was it. Just those two. So, after spending another few moments of life I will never have back, I realized that the smell had gently slid away, much like candidate #1's pants.
I sat back down and resumed reading. The book is an account of the rise of America's first acknowledged serial killer, Dr. H.H. Holmes. The author is a gifted storyteller and I, holding true to the first definition, was deeply engrossed.
LUNATIC: NOUN: A person regarded as strange, eccentric, or crazy enough to argue with subway seats: crackpot, crazy. Informal: crank, loon, loony. Slang: cuckoo, dingbat, batshit, kook, nut-job, screwball, weirdo, shit-assed crazy fuck-nut
You, the reader of my tale, will not then be shocked in hearing how delighted I was that my reverie was blissfully interrupted by Mr. Vomitous Pissonmyself.
I am not sure what I first noticed: the peristaltic reflex of my throat (an involuntary response as a precursor to vomiting) caused by a sudden reappearance of the stench, or by 2003's Mr. Fucking Nuttiest Nose-Picking Moron of Philadelphia's whispering "hello" to me.
I remained seated, neither moving an inch (for obvious reasons) nor breathing (for more obvious reasons). I do not understand how I, after all of these years, never appreciated how much reading for pleasure was enhanced by some poster child for abortion whispering "hello" and picking his nose. Truly, one of life's greater pleasures.
After about 3.4 more seconds of this, I decamped from the Mental Health section (seriously) and left Philly's Crazy/Noisy/God-Awful Smell Orchestra to find another seat.
I found myself in periodicals. Seemingly quieter than any other room and not too crowded it was, in fact, peopled with sober-looking individuals reading The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, etc. Finding a seat across from a professorial middle-aged gentleman I eagerly transported myself back to 1893 Chicago.
CREEPY: ADJECTIVE: Informal 1. Of or producing a sensation of uneasiness orfear, like the freak sitting across from you staring at you and playing with a stopwatch: a creepy feeling; a creepy story. 2. Annoyingly unpleasant; repulsive: like the same freak who is now smiling at the table, the blank area of table.
Anthropologists and neuroscientists alike suspect that it is something evolution left behind - like the coccyx bone or the appendix - from a time when humans were not the apex predator. I refer to a basic, yet intangible human ability to sense danger. Or, in my case, that some other freak is now near and staring at you.
So involved in my reading, I did not notice the professorial gentleman had left only to have his seat occupied by one of nature's practical jokes.
Lifting my eyes from the book, I began to appraise the table space in front of me. A space that had, not too long ago, been stacked with a week's worth of major newspapers and now held…
a set of hands and a stopwatch.
This should be interesting.
There was a stopwatch, held by a pudgy, white, almost delicate hand. The hand was attached to an arm equally delicate in appearance. The arm disappeared into a stark-white t-shirt. The t-shirt was clad about a small-torsoed man. Atop this slight torso was one of the biggest goddamn heads I have ever seen on something that did not have a trunk and shit on clowns.
Framing one of Jupiter's moons was a mane of gray hair, hair that would be the result of Don King and Buckwheat having children who snorted Rogaine. The face 'neath the hair was blotchy, puffy and sweating, its eyes shifting between me and the stopwatch. Neither interested in seeking another seat (to find, I am sure, someone ever crazier) nor brave enough to ask what he was doing, I returned to the book.
After a few minutes of silence I assumed the King of the Freak Troll Dolls would not be bothering me (he did not smell) and I settled comfortably into a rhythm.
Using the ESP I am sure he developed inside his two-car garage head, he must have sensed my complacency and began to count. Not a normal count, no. But a series that went something like this:
"1…yes. 2…yes. 3…yes, yes. (long pause) 4…yes" and so on.
Not really wanting to, but really needing to see what was going on, I looked up…
He was shifting his eyes between his stopwatch and me.
"5…yes. 6…yes. 7…yes."
Not interested to see if it was bomb he had in his head and this was his countdown, I left.
Next time I want to do some serious reading, I will just check into the closest insane asylum because none of their inmates are there.
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