the borrower (read this book!)

“He really does love the library,” she said.  She was missing a rich southern accent, I realized, one of those charming Kentucky belle ones.  It would have complemented her perfectly.  She pulled a folded piece of notepaper out of her purse, thick cream with the name Janet Marcus Drake in shiny pale blue script at the top.  “This is a list of the content matter I’d like him to avoid.”  She had abruptly flipped from the southern belle and was now putting on the extremely businesslike air of those perfectionist women who’d only worked in the professional world for two or three years before stopping to have children and were now terrified of not being taken seriously.  She handed the list over and waited, as if she expected me to read it aloud.  It read:

–Witchcraft/Wizardy
–Magic
–Satanism/Occult Religions, etc.
–Adult Content Matter
–Weaponry
–The Theory of Evolution
–Halloween
–Roald Dahl, Lois Lowry, Harry Potter, and similar authors

“You understand what is meant by adult content matter?”

I managed, somehow to open my mouth and assure her that I did.

“And I neglected to list it, but I also understand that you have candy available for the children.”  She didn’t need to put it so formally.  She was staring right at the bowl of Jolly Ranchers on the edge of my desk.  “I just don’t want him running around here with a sugar high!”  And she laughed again, right back to Scarlett O’Hara on the porch.

Because I couldn’t think of anything nonprofane to say at that moment, I said nothing.  It wasn’t so much good manners or restraint as a sort of paralysis of the tongue.  I wanted to ask her if she’d ever heard of the First Amendment, if she was aware that Harry Potter was not an author, if she thought we had books about Satanism lying around the children’s section, if she was under the impression that I was Ian’s babysitter, reading tutor, or camp counselor.  Instead I took my pen and added another line to her list:  “No candy.”

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