Saturday, August 04, 2007
Today was the reopening of the San Francisco Public Library branch in my neighborhood. It has been closed for renovations for two years. That's a long time to do weekly walk-bys, nose pressed to the glass, cold turkey.
We went to the ribbon cutting and listened to the Mayor and other dignitaries speak about how important literacy is while clowns milled about, terrifying children. A troupe of Chinese dancers performed a lion dance to purify the building, after which we toured the premises, which has been doubled in size. The book collection looks about the same as before, but more spread out. This seems optimistic.
At the buffet table on the patio, I stood behind an old man who yelled four times, "I've been standing here for ten minutes and the line hasn't moved." I glanced at the food and decided to pass. Cold mini-pizza does nothing for me. There were some pawed-over crackers and cheese with a few flaccid grapes, and the "lemonade" turned out to be water that sprayed all over the woman behind me. There was also soda, which I do not drink, ever. I thought of Dick Gregory, who quipped after the lunch counter sit-ins of 1960 that when they were finally integrated, they didn't have anything he wanted.
The whole surreal day had the flavor of a small-town ice cream social, or a Fellini movie. The Mayor's blond girlfriend wore a red dress both short and tight. It must have been hard for him to keep his mind on the festivities. People posed for pictures with the Mayor, who is a handsome young man. Flip snapped some for various people, but had run out of film himself.
One teenager complained that his library card had been revoked because he owed so many fines. The Mayor had his slate wiped clean and got him a new card. The kid isn't old enough to vote, but already has friends in high places. I think that everyone should get library amnesty at least once a year. I could open my own branch with the money I've paid in fines.
It turned out that my library card was inactive because it was over two years old. That can happen when the library is closed for two years.
Still, I was surprised as I really thought the Black-eyed Susan garden had been planted in my honor. There is the not inconsiderable matter of loyalty and the fact that I can carry more books at a time than most people. A woman pushed ahead of me, demanding to be helped first because she had a child.
"Children have short attention spans," she rebuked everyone within earshot. Her little girl didn't look incendiary, but the mother had probably drunk several lattes to wash down her diet pills.
I hope I'll remember not to wear heels the next time I have to walk more than a mile. My feet are mutinous, but on the other hand, I was so tall today.