Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Day of Reckoning

Today I paid off $47.54 in fines at the Forbes Library. Every time I go to the Forbes, I'll find something I want to check out and then think, "shit, I have overdue fines. I guess I can't borrow this," and put it back. It's been a couple years now since I've borrowed anything. Today I went through the usual ritual, this time with a David Foster Wallace novel, and it dawned on me. I could pay up and then I could start borrowing books and CD's again. In fact, I could borrow this very book today. My conscience, or perhaps something greater, had taken hold and I was ready to face justice and pay my debt to society. I went sheepishly to the check-out desk. I've never turned myself in for anything before. The cops always beat me to it. I was ashamed and I felt the librarian might give me a look or even call somebody over. I took a deep breath and told her I was ready to settle up. I had no idea what the damage would be and I was actually surprised that it wasn't $500. I guess libraries don't double the debt every few days like the RMV and the IRS, etc. I looked at the evidence; the list of titles...my rap sheet. Every one made me feel like a hideous man, sitting on these books and CDs that honest citizens could have been enjoying, eventually dropping them at the circulation desk or slipping them down the chute, months... years overdue and then fleeing the scene without paying. But now I'm zeroed out, baby. Purified. Wielding a new library card, striding through the stacks with full borrowing rights, I felt like this was the beginning of a new chapter of my life.

I borrowed "Brief Interviews With Hideous Men" by David Foster Wallace. There is a great article about DFW in the new New Yorker, on the heals of another absorbing recent piece on Donald Barthelme. My father asked me to be sure to read both before we next met for lunch. The DFW article dovetails nicely with the recent Kierkegaard I've been reading and even last night's absolutely brilliant two hour set at the Calvin Theatre by comedian Louis CK, who gets my vote as heir apparent to George Carlin's insightful hilarity throne. The observation skills and self-consciousness (as in awareness, not awkwardness) of these guys, David, Donald, and Louis, reminds me of my own exhausting, life crippling analysis of everything and everyone and it's comforting to see it out in the open being put to good use in writing and comedy. We'd all have been in the madhouse in earlier times. Now it seems like the norm. A gift even. But I do wish I could shut the hell up sometimes, inside and out.

2 comments:

Lisa said...

Welcome back to the library!

JD said...

Glad to have you back at the Library! If we have your email we'll send you a reminder for when things are due...