Yesterday afternoon I was sitting at the library with one of my students in Los Angeles. Well to be precise, he was sitting there and I was late, but I was walking across the room as fast as my two legs could take me. When I finally reached him, he whispered something I couldn’t hear and got up. The next thing I knew he was conversing with the librarian at the front desk…and then my student walked back and sat down. I asked him what was going on and he looked at me carefully.
“What is it?” I asked again.
Through clenched teeth he whispered. “That man is watching porn.”
“What man is watching porn?” My eyes raced around the library.
He leaned closer to me and pointed with his head. “That one.” And sure enough, maybe 15 feet away from us, a man was watching porn on the computer. At first I couldn’t be sure because 15 feet is a long distance, but then he clicked on one of the many little boxes on his screen and a woman’s big boobs began hitting the front of the computer screen. OH MY GOD.
We tried to work we really did, but it was impossible to stop from watching. It was like a train wreck. There was a man in a public library watching internet porn. I’m not making this up. A few minutes later and another librarian came over and began using the computer next to the porn-slut. We watched like two old ladies waiting to see what happened next as the porn-slut changed the screen and he and the librarian had a Mexican stand-off. Eventually the librarian walked away without ever having said anything and the porn-slut went back to watching porn. This time something even more graphic than boobs.
“Holy $%^&!” My student exclaimed and I looked up from trying to distract him by explaining inscribed circles (I know, not very distracting) to see…well, you know. I jumped up and walked over to the librarian’s reference desk.
“Excuse me.” I said to the tiny woman with the bob of brunette hair that made her look just like Mary Tyler Moore. “There’s a man over there looking at pornography and it’s very disturbing.”
She shook her head sadly. “It’s the library’s policy that people have the right to view whatever they want. I’ll try to talk to him, but it’s his public right to look at it if he wants to.” A minute later, she spoke with the porn-slut and to all of our surprises, he left. My student and I breathed a sigh of relief. What a weirdo.
At the end of our session, I walked up to the check-out desk to get my parking validated. The librarian who stood there was the same one who my student had initially spoken to. “So you saw one of our porn watchers?”
“Yeah.” I said, shaking my head and thinking that he was joking…but what if he wasn’t. “Really?”
“Oh yeah. That’s why we have all those special screens on the computers. It’s so that other people can’t see. At least two-thirds of the men who come in here look at porn.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the screens didn’t work.
“That’s crazy.” I said instead. We talked for a few minutes about the freedom of information and then I left. But not without one last glance around the library…what a weird day. Who knew libraries could be so racy? Or maybe I’m just lucky. Things do seem to happen around me that don’t happen to other people, but porn at the library? Even for me that’s a new one.