I didn't think it was fair; my father would have been similarly awestruck had he ever gone to the grocery store when those fancy things began to be installed. My Daddy was not stupid or uninformed or out of touch with the harsh realities of the world. What he was, though, was a man who'd lost his grocery store privileges years before when my mother tired of his coming home with multiple cans of sardines. He had to eat them on the back porch, and because I loved them, too, the two of us would grab a can and a couple oyster forks and head out.
So I found Mr. Bush's childlike wonder sort of charming, and recently found myself sharing a similar experience when I visited the main branch of our public library.
I had not stepped foot in it since my youngest child, now nearing 30 at alarming speed, was in junior high school. I accompanied him there to do a little research. We didn't stay long, and there wasn't any point to browsing for pleasure reading because I spent every working day surrounded by every book I could ever want.
I never had a to-be-read stack of books at home, either. Books I wanted to read would just be waiting for me in the little yellow building at the corner of East Fairview and Woodley Terrace whenever I wanted them.
What a comeuppance this closing of the bookstore has been.
I was out running errands a couple days ago, and after having heard that the main branch of our public library was open again after renovations, I decided to pop in for a visit.
New card in hand, I decided to at least take a look around. This building holds some vivid memories for me. When I was growing up, visits to the library were just part of our routine, and gosh, I remember how amazing it was to walk out of there with a dozen worlds in words in my hands, and the blessed-beyond-measure feeling that would wash over me as I'd carry them out to Mama's station wagon, as though they were elements of communion.
Until the early 1980's the Museum of Fine Arts was housed on the second floor. When I was a child, a trip up the winding staircase led to a tableau of an agricultural family and their mule, lifesize and cast in wax. I was at once delighted and terrified by the thought of what might go on up there when the lights went out at night.
That second story now houses fiction, reference works, and research areas complete with computers and WiFi access. I ambled over to the fiction shelves and wasn't there 2 minutes before I found a book that I had just added to the Stacks app on my iPhone. I was near to overcome with emotion when I realized I could pick that book up and take it home with me FOR FREE.
I'm here to bear witness that when you've not had any reason to avail yourself of this treasure trove for nearly three decades, you just forget how amazing this whole library thing is.
I find myself on a learning curve, though. In all those years, things have changed. Patrons now have free online access to ebooks, audiobooks, movies, classic television, and music through a service called Hoopla, and you can ask the library to hold a book for you when it returns to circulation, via the internet.
I panicked a bit when I realized that there wasn't any CARD in the books. I was sure I'd left without having everything done the right way until I discovered the chip attached to the inside of the back cover.
I know now exactly how President Bush felt in that moment at the grocery store.
Because y'all? I haven't been this excited since Alabama flawlessly executed their onside kick in the National Championship game.