Thursday, October 22, 2015

Jerry Lewis on the phone

People call the library from deep in their own worlds, and sometimes I get calls from the heart of raucous home lives, children wailing, groups of people arguing in unfamiliar languages, mysterious household sounds as if I am being called from a boiler room, the back of a long haul truck, or maybe a submarine. And who's to say I'm not being called from one of those places?

A short while ago I got a call from a calm woman who had what I took to be a baby or toddler in her arms or her lap. Whatever the creature was, it let off bizarre, ear-splitting, exquisitely timed yowls that made the woman sound deranged. Actually it made her sound sort of like Jerry Lewis.

"I just need the barcode number off your library card." I said.

"44285" She started evenly and clearly. "WERAAAAAAAGGGHHHHHYAAAAAAAA!!!!" She screamingly interjected. "00458." Then a bloodcurdling "BLEYAAAAAAGGGHHH!!!" Then "965." A screeching "RRRRRUAAAAAAGGGGHHH!!!!" and shortly after that the concluding "8321."

"Thank you." I replied as my liquified earwax dribbled, with traces of blood, out of my head.

But I don't know that there actually was a kid in her lap. I was just trying to come up with some kind of an explanation. She could have simply been sitting around watching The Nutty Professor over and over, getting ideas.

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