So I went to the library yesterday. It’s a glorious place filled with wisdom and intrigue and, of course, books.
I gathered up my glorious, wise, intriguing books and headed to the self-checkout area. That’s when I saw it. A tampon.
Not used, obviously. It was still in its plastic wrapper, sitting there beside one of the checkout terminals looking a bit lost.
I glanced around. Three people manned the other terminals, none of them making eye contact. There was an old lady with smudged glasses, a guy wearing his baseball cap backwards, and a young mom toting a toddler with a suspicious brown smear on his cheek.
I looked back at the tampon.
The most logical explanation was that a library patron had dropped it, and someone else – driven by the misguided belief that its owner might wish to reclaim it after it had rolled around on the floor awhile – set it there to be rescued.
That’s the likely scenario. But writers seldom attach themselves to the most likely scenario.
What if a librarian put it there to symbolize something deep and profound – maybe our community “Read Together” selection? But what does a tampon have to do with Kathryn Stockett’s THE HELP? Did I miss something when I read it? Maybe I should check it out again.
Or maybe it was a bomb. I considered poking it to see if it was ticking, but hello – I’m not touching a strange tampon, even it was still in the wrapper. But if it suddenly exploded, would I be heroic enough to throw my body over it to protect the old lady and the toddler? (The dude in the backwards baseball cap – he’s on his own).
Or what if the tampon had a hidden camera inside? I’ve always heard that Big Brother is watching. Would he watch from inside a tampon? It’s a genius idea, really. What better place to stash a secret recording device than inside an object no sane person would willingly pick up?
I leaned closer for a better look, pretty sure I saw the glint of a lens.
“Can I help you?” a librarian asked behind me.
I straightened up. “Nope, just getting checked out.”
She nodded sagely. Did she wink at me? “Just let me know if you need any assistance.”
“OK,” I told her, and hurried to finish checking out my books.
Was it my imagination, or was the librarian smirking at me as I left?
In all likelihood, it was my imagination. See, this is why writers can’t be trusted with the simplest tasks. One minute we’re checking out the latest Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel and the next minute we’re imagining a vast international conspiracy centered around abandoned feminine hygiene products.
But if I read in the newspaper today that the library exploded, I’m going to say I told you so.