When I was a senior in high school in my achingly small town, I went to the library every day. This is probably not unusual for our people, dear reader, but I ate lunch there, too.
Well, I wasn’t supposed to. There was no eating in the library.
But this was a very small town, and I have a feeling my librarian was starved of all interaction. And maybe affection. This man was caustic and sarcastic and the more I saw him (and let’s face it, tried to avoid him), the more I realized that he wasn’t always like that. This man’s name was Lindsay and he was a librarian in small-town America. And he was gay.
Eventually he realized that like a bad penny, I would just kept turning up. And I remember the day he came over and said, “I knoooooow you’re eeeeeeeeating.” And I was terrified. Was he going to kick me out, back to general population?
He gave me his slow-ass blink and with a raised brow said, “You’d better get to the back room then.”
Folks, I was a goody-goody. I thought, maybe I had detention now? But instead he nodded his head to the side and I noticed the back room of the library, through the door he’d just gone through. And like Alice in Wonderland, I followed.
For the foreseeable future, I went to that room each day for lunch and I ate with Lindsay and the woman who came in to make the copies for teachers. Her name was Marion. She was old even then, but chatty and joyful. Funny. And one day she said, “Now why does a girl with a perfectly normal body like you only eat salad?”
Readers, I did not only eat salad. But like many girls, I had received the message that my body was too everything for society. So I woke up as an optimist every day who would sustain life on salad. And I would end every day, humiliated, when I gave into pizza. And, my best friend was currently in a deep deep relationship with an eating disorder and I couldn’t stand watching that pageant at lunch – her not eating, then boys endlessly stopping by to ask her out because she was so beautiful.
And Lindsay saved me. And I heard all the boys talking shit about him in classes, what it meant about you if you willingly went into the library.
Did he terrify me?
Did I defend him?