Friday, January 25, 2019


I work at a library. Old guys tell me stories here all the time. I write a blog, one essay every single day. So one would think it would be fantastic for me to be told stories by these old guys. I could then just turn around and tell you! It would be like a free day. And I suppose it would be fantastic to hear these stories, but only if these stories had beginnings, middles or ends. It would be fantastic only if there seemed to be any point to these stories. It would be fantastic if I had any idea what the story was about that they just told me.

But I don't. So it's not fantastic, it's just mildly interesting and not very useful.

Today I was shelving in non fiction. I was all alone in my aisle when, with an alarming closeness, my name was whispered. There was a smaller gentleman of my acquaintance in the next aisle over, calling my name through the gap in the books.

He talks very fast, in an agitated manner. He gets sort of excited and then kind of stutters a lot. He's also has an apologetic manner combined with a curious persistence. Whispering at me through the stacks I was immediately put in the mind of Peter Lorre; sinister, strangely appealing, and dismissable all at once.

We talked, though it was mostly him. First he was telling me about a book he was halfway through about Billy Martin, the baseball player and manager. His story was filled with tangents, was not very interesting, and ended up in a biker bar in Minneapolis. There was something about a theory he had that the bar was named for Billy Martin's son based on no evidence I could see him presenting to me. I also couldn't tell why it would be interesting if the bar was somehow named for Billy Martin's son. He talked about how he quizzed the bartender about his theory, and then there were two discussions there with a barmaid (his term, which fascinated me as I've never heard "barmaid" used in actual modern conversation). One conversation took place 25 years before the next. It was all bewildering. 

Then, as the story was sort of dimming into confusion, whether mine, his, or, I suspect, both of ours, he said he had met Jane Goodall at that bar. This was about 20 years ago. She was older than him and they just happened to be sitting next to each other. He asked her to dance. He didn't know she was Jane Goodall. She said no, but nicely. When she said who she was he thought maybe she was messing with him. He said they later went across the street and had pie. Some time after that he went to The Primate Institute, which I researched and actually was at the University of Minnesota at that time. He saw her there. She said "What are you doing here?"

I never did quite get what he answered.


  1. Do you think this will be us in a couple of decades? Also, do you think this fellow might want to guest blog? Do you think contacting Jane Goodall to check the veracity of his story might be worth it?

    1. How lovely, three questions, and yet they can all be met with one unified answer!

      I actually believe the Jane Goodall story. The deciding piece comes from a part that was not included in the account above. He said at one point she asked "So do you come out here hoping to get sex?" Which seemed so frank and blunt and like from a person who studies primates and does not stop, no matter where she goes...

  2. Dammit! Now I'm old & looking back on my dissipated life, the prime of which was posted away in bars. Did I EVER meet Jane Goodall? Hell no!

    1. You might have met Jane Goodall and just not noticed. What if you pissed away the prime of your life in bars hanging out with celebrities in disguise?

  3. Bah, spell check!
    "posted" was supposed to be "pissed"!


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