Miss Manners: Librarian checks out more than is seemly

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dear Miss Manners:

I am at a loss about what to say to our very nosy librarian. No matter what books you are checking out, she reads the titles (often out loud and at a high volume so everyone else in the library can hear) and then comments on your selections.

Examples: My husband works in health care and checked out some books on a private and potentially embarrassing disease to help put together a brochure for his clinic. This woman read the titles and asked him (in a very loud voice) if he had the disease!

Another time, I checked out a name book. I'm working on writing a novel and needed some ideas for my characters. The librarian read the titles and shrieked, "Are you pregnant?! It's too soon for you to be having another baby!" (I was holding my infant son at the time.)

I wasn't pregnant, but can you imagine if I was? What business is it of hers how close together my children are? Not to mention that, generally, there is a hierarchy to announcing a pregnancy (tell the spouse, other children, grandparents, etc.). "Librarian" doesn't fall on that list.

We live in a very small town with limited library hours, so I can't just avoid going when she is working because she's always there. How do I tell this woman I don't appreciate her nosiness without being rude?

The way to get to a librarian is to imply that a profession requiring technologically sophisticated researching skills is solely populated by cranky old ladies whose only pleasure in life is to shhh people.

Oh, and a few inhibited young ladies who could find love if only they would remove their glasses.

Miss Manners suggests combining the two offensive images by responding to all comments and questions solely by giving the librarian one of those sweetly vague, nearsighted looks and a regretful smile, and putting the forefinger vertically across your lips. Repeat as often as necessary.

Dear Miss Manners:

My husband is putting on a birthday party for me. I will be turning 57.

His sister has taken up the art of hand-sculpting huge birthday cakes. She has been mastering the art of making huge, three-foot-tall penises. She recently presented one to her mother-in-law for her birthday.

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