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August 01, 2013

Tales from the condo zone – 50 shades of condominium

Jim Zang

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If you read last month’s column, then you’re familiar with ‘the librarian’ — the octogenarian who treated the condominium library as if it were her own personal book collection. Picture the librarian ghost who turns into the scary monster near the beginning of the classic movie Ghostbusters and you’re getting close. Cruella Deville, only meaner.

Anyway, like I was saying, my in-laws lived in an age 45+ condo just a couple of miles from us and we used to visit them all the time. I would borrow books from the library (which I also donated books to, by the way), and on one such occasion had the misfortune to experience a retired librarian’s wrath first hand. I think if she’d had a ruler she would have hit me with it.

Unfortunately, that was not my only brush with literary exclusion. Just last year I was denied entry to Oprah’s Book Club for actually liking the Captain Underpants series.

Anyway, back to the library, this time with kids in tow. Or, more accurately, dad in tow. The kids and I raced up the stairs, them giggling, me panting, to the library.


I heard it before I saw her. “Oh no,” I thought, “not the librarian.”

It was as if she had been waiting for me. As if she’d made it her own personal mission to guard the condo’s book supply. Probably driving a patrol from building to building, library to library. Maybe watching out her condo with binoculars.

My first thought was for the safety of the kids.

“Dad,” said my son, still young and totally oblivious to the dangers that lurked in condo libraries, “she ‘shushed’ us”.

“It’s okay,” I said. “Don’t make eye contact. Just hand me your books and slowly back away. Slowly. And I’ll just put these books back. That’s right, just putting the books back and saying good-bye to the nice lady. Now backing away, slowly, backing away. Okay now RUN!”

The kids took off but as I tried to leave the cane again blocked my way and I had to quickly side-step her moving wheelchair. As I did, she passed me a book, her fingers lightly, yet unmistakably purposefully, brushing the back of my hand as she did so.

Hmm. I thought to myself, that’s the first time she’s ever been nice to me. And she smelled…good. Then I looked at the book and a cold shiver went down my spine.

It was Fifty Shades of Grey.

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