The Public Librarian’s Ultimate Guide to Flirting with Cute, Single Patrons (Unabridged Edition)
(NOTE: The American Library Association denied the very existence of this guide—written by the famed and mysterious Librarian X—for years. In a daring caper, however, I managed to steal a copy from a sealed vault in the Library of Congress, shortly before Nicolas Cage came in through the air vent. You’re welcome. —Olivia Dade, former librarian and author of Broken Resolutions)
So you’ve spied a single, attractive patron in the stacks of your library or in front of your circulation/reference desk, and you think the two of you would make a perfect couple. Congratulations! Some librarians go their entire working lives without experiencing true love at the library. Librarians like me, for example. But I’m not bitter at all! Anyway, you should immediately begin to activate Protocol 613.9. Please follow the steps below.
1. Ask yourself the following questions: Are you asleep? Or hallucinating? Have you taken any new medicines or eaten any mushrooms of dubious provenance? Because honestly, hot patrons aren’t exactly thick on the ground in public libraries. I would know.
In the unlikely event you answered “no” to all those questions, please proceed to step 2.
2. Observe the people around your hot patron. Could any of them be his/her spouse? Yes, I know you said the patron was single, but that just seems so unlikely, I wanted to make absolutely certain— Okay, fine. Let’s move on to step 3.
3. If you’re completely, one hundred percent, willing-to-bet-your-mother’s-life-on-it sure that you’re awake, in your right mind, and observing an attractive, single patron in your library, it’s time for you to make your first approach. Since the patron may still prove to be unpleasant, smelly, and/or unacceptable in some other way, start with a neutral question, such as “May I help you?”
Under no circumstances should you begin by asking the patron to elope with you in Vegas. How do I know that? Um…no reason. That’s just the natural response some people have to cute patrons. Not me, of course. But some people. Definitely.
4. If your patron refuses your help, be sure to ask a polite follow-up question. Something like “Are you certain I can’t help you find a special book?” Examples of inappropriate follow-up questions/remarks: “Can I sniff you? Because you look like you smell really good.” Or “If that book you’re holding is really a collection of Walt Whitman’s poetry, as I suspect it is, I’m going to have to insist that you come home with me.” Because those follow-up questions/remarks can earn you a very uncomfortable trip to your library director’s office. I hear.
But if your patron accepts your offer of help, give him/her your complete and undivided attention. Smile. Move in closer. If other patrons or your coworkers attempt to interrupt this miraculous moment, ignore them. If the fire alarm goes off, tell your patron it happens all the time, and the way library staff deals with it is by cuddling on the breakroom couch with whoever happens to be closest. Wink at the patron. If there’s no response, wink again. More slowly.
Wait. Disregard the bit about the fire alarm. I think that was actually a dream I had last week.
5. Once you’ve completed your patron’s task, offer to demonstrate how the self-checkout machine works. At this point, you will be tempted to make a joke about checking him/her out too. I am certain about this. How? I just…am. Trust me.
My point: Don’t tell the checking-out joke, despite its alluring use of a pun. Again, we don’t need to get into the details of why I know that.
Show your patron every single function on the self-checkout machine. Several times. Even if a rapidly growing line begins to form behind you. After all, you’re simply providing superior customer service to the library’s valued patrons. And the most valued patrons of all: the cute ones.
Special note: During conversations with your supervisor, do not discuss how service levels occasionally differ based on patron cuteness. Ever. Never ever. I once…um, had a friend who did that. It was a mistake.
6. After your patron has checked out all desired library materials, offer to help carry them to his/her vehicle. You should follow this advice even if the only item you checked out together was a single paperback.
At this point, you can evaluate the likelihood of continued contact with this patron outside of the library setting. Ask yourself the following questions: Does he/she seem interested? Did your patron’s fingers brush yours meaningfully as you carried that single paperback together? Did he/she ask for your name, personal phone number, or other identifying information?
I should add that if the identifying information your patron requests is your social security number, credit card number, or the name of your supervisor, you’re probably going to want to proceed with a certain amount of caution.
Otherwise, however, congratulations! You have successfully flirted with a cute patron at the public library, you lucky son of a b—
I mean, you fortunate professional.
7. At this point, you should definitely contact whoever is in charge of the library newsletter, or possibly representatives from your local newspapers and TV stations. Because—
Hold on a moment. I forgot one last step.
8. Before your first date, Google your patron’s name to see if any interesting tidbits pop up. No, I’ll wait.
Oh, so sad. Your patron did what? No, I’m not laughing gleefully. Why would I do that? What kind of librarian do you think I am?
*******[NOTE: Successful librarian encounters with attractive patrons do exist, if only in fictional form. Broken Resolutions, for example, is one such story. But now I need to take this document and conceal it from Nicolas Cage once again, as he appears to be tunneling underneath the floors of my secret library hiding place. Godspeed, gentle readers! —Olivia Dade]
Broken Resolutions blurb:
LOVE BETWEEN THE LINES
Romance has never had a happy ending for librarian Penny Callahan, who could write the book on cheating, heartbreaking liars. So she’s made a resolution: no men for the next twelve months. If she can just get through the library’s New Year’s Eve singles night, she can return home to her pajamas and a good book. But when she finds herself checking out a hot hunk with an irresistible smile, an evening in the stacks becomes a lot more tempting…
Reclusive author Jack Williamson never should have trusted his mother. Even though he’s trying to avoid being recognized, she guilts him into attending a dating meet-and-greet—where an adorable librarian makes him question his lonely lifestyle. Is this just a fleeting, flirty scene? Or could love be the next chapter for them both?
While I was growing up, my mother kept a stack of books hidden in her closet. She told me I couldn't read them. So, naturally, whenever she left me alone for any length of time, I took them out and flipped through them. Those books raised quite a few questions in my prepubescent brain. Namely: 1) Why were there so many pirates? 2) Where did all the throbbing come from? 3) What was a "manhood"? 4) And why did the hero and heroine seem overcome by images of waves and fireworks every few pages, especially after an episode of mysterious throbbing in the hero's manhood?
Thirty or so years later, I have a few answers. 1) Because my mom apparently fancied pirates at that time. Now she hoards romances involving cowboys and babies. If a book cover features a shirtless man in a Stetson cradling an infant, her ovaries basically explode and her credit card emerges. I have a similar reaction to romances involving spinsters, governesses, and librarians. 2) His manhood. Also, her womanhood. 3) It's his "hard length," sometimes compared in terms of rigidity to iron. I prefer to use other names for it in my own writing. However, I am not picky when it comes to descriptions of iron-hard lengths. At least in romances. 4) Because explaining how an orgasm feels can prove difficult. Or maybe the couples all had sex on New Year's Eve at Cancun.
During those thirty years, I accomplished a few things. I graduated from Wake Forest University and earned my M.A. in American History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I worked at a variety of jobs that required me to bury my bawdiness and potty mouth under a demure exterior: costumed interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg, high school teacher, and librarian. But I always, always read romances. Funny, filthy, sweet--it didn't matter. I loved them all.
Now I'm writing my own romances with the encouragement of my husband and daughter. I found a kick-ass agent: Jessica Alvarez from Bookends, LLC. I have my own stack of books in my closet that I'd rather my daughter not read, at least not for a few years. I can swear whenever I want, except around said daughter. And I get to spend all day writing about love and iron-hard lengths.
So thank you, Mom, for perving so hard on pirates during my childhood. I owe you.
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