When I go to the library I usually feel like a Catholic returning to the confessional because too often I'm there to beg forgiveness, express remorse and make restitution for past transgressions. The other day for instance, I came home and my wife said, "Hug your dog."
"Why hug the dog?" I said with a sense of foreboding. Conversations starting like that never seem to end well.
"Oh, because you probably won't want to after you see the cases on those DVDs you checked out of the library last week."
Sure enough, the basset had roused her ample behind sometime in the afternoon and became frantic when she realized that she had been completely without food for nearly five hours and there were absolutely no signs of life in the house except Pandora blaring, a fire in the fireplace, her companion dog on the sofa, and my wife upstairs. In her frenzy she latched upon a couple of DVD cases that apparently reeked of my buttery-popcorn fingers from the night before and slowly regained her inner equilibrium by chewing big holes in them.
Next Day In The Confessional: Her smile chilled by a degree when she realized she was dealing with the guy with the basset hound. I couldn't meet her gaze and looked away, "Two this time," I said, sliding the cases across the desk.
I avoided her glare. "All right," she finally said, "just like last time, first, I'll turn them over to forensics to document the plaster casts for the files, then it's on to accounting to figure the replacement costs, next it's passed over to purchasing to replace them, they'll send them on to production for repackaging and finally it's on to security to notify the sheriff that you're standing right here in front of me."
"Wait, wait, it's not like usual," I cried, "this time she only got the cases, the actual DVDs are fine." I held them up in one hand, raising the other for a celebratory fist-bump that never came.
She took them out of my hand and inspected them like she was Tom Shane in an Antwerp alley before admitting, "Hmm, that would bring things down to a misdemeanor."
There are several things I've learned from owning a basset, not the least is an appreciation of our county's fine libraries and the staff and trustees who run them. I poke occasional fun, but the truth is that I have the utmost respect for them and the outstanding district they have created.
Libraries define and refine cultures and civilizations. They've been traced back 5,000 years to the Sumerians living in the area of modern Kuwait. Sumerians developed writing when people began to aggregate into cities. The resultant shift in agricultural supply, demand and distribution required record keeping as food moved from the farmer to the markets. These records were etched in wet clay with reeds and preserved as clay tablets.
The Library of Alexandria was started 300 years before Christ and contained an estimated 700,000 written works, each painstakingly categorized by Callimachus, a poet and history's first acknowledged librarian. The early works were intricate clay tablets (remember Moses?) but paper was invented shortly after and later works were on parchment scrolls. This library endured for a thousand years before it was burned to the ground by Muslims under the directions of the Caliph Umar I in 640 A.D.
Back in Fraser, I explained to the hound that after she croaks, I'm stuffing and selling her on ebay to work off her library debt.