Monday, June 6, 2011


To the excited boy who stopped at my desk,

You were so enthusiastic when you asked if I wanted to hear the semaphore alphabet. Please forgive me for thinking that what you meant was somehow associated with trains. Thomas the tank engine was a favorite around our house many years ago, so this inclination and assumption was a natural one for me. But once you started saying, “Alpha, Bravo, Charlie” I suddenly remembered these words being recited by a friend when we were in college. The chance to fly a plan was somewhat of an obsession and learning to communicate this way was considered a necessity. I was also assigned the job of Listener back then. Before every test I coached and directed, which meant that afterwards I shared in the sweet victory of the (hopefully) many correct answers on the examinations. I never actually got to fly in one of those little planes, still I often think about what it must have been like to be so close to the clouds.

The next few letters you uttered came as a surprise to me, obviously they had not lodged in my brain as thoroughly as the “A, B and C” had done. As you continued, there was a look of intense concentration on your face, though I knew you had it in you to finish. When you came to “M” I chuckled, realizing it must have been an obvious choice for the person creating the alphabet, at least as far as my friends and family are concerned. “Q, R and S” presented you with a bit of a problem, or this is what I surmised when you slowed down and calmed yourself by putting your fingers behind your two front teeth. All the better to help you think.

When you got to “W” a great big smile crossed my face. I don’t think you noticed, perhaps you thought it was me cheering you on to the big finish. Once the word “Whisky” left your mouth I could only drink in that serendipitous moment. It felt warm and smooth going down, as it often does when the exact right people, time and place collide. I had been presented with a gift, as surely as if you had wrapped it up and tied it with a beautiful bow.

The last three letters seemed easy. You finished with a grand flourish and then left my desk, moving on to whatever grabbed your attention next. A few weeks ago you counted for me in Greek, this week was an entertaining alphabet, who knows what type of recitation will soon follow?

Thank you for making my Library such an interesting place to be and for showing me (again) how lucky I am to be a Children’s Librarian. Where else could I possibly have this much fun?

Whiskey and I have failed to achieve any type of beautiful friendship. We're not enemies. But we have different goals. I'm a wine woman, with an occasional taste for beer; more rarely I'll have a refreshing, slightly sweet cocktail, especially if I'm on a restaurant patio with friends who share my sense of humor. Whiskey has always struck me as an indoor drink, the kind of drink you have in the winter to warm up your core, often drunk off a sticky surface in a dim bar. Whiskey reminds me of bonfires barely kept in check by scruffy men with long sticks. Whiskey makes me think of tragedy; when disaster strikes a man down, you don't revive him with a fruity sip of Chardonnay. My own meager disappointments, however, respond well to a delicate Pinot. Brave people with more to lose drink whiskey - comfortable people drink margaritas. I err on the side of comfort, or maybe willful blindness. Don't fall to the floor in a faint in my house; the dogs - greyhounds, about the quarter of the heft needed for rescue dog status - are not prepared with barrels around their necks. We may have a few drips of whiskey left in a bottle high on a back shelf, but reaching it will take desperation and step ladders. Best to laugh with us, sip with us, nibble your almost well-paired cheese and stay upright. A toast, to bull-headed well-being.

Next Week's Word: Child 


  1. A well done missive, Andi - as a fellow pinot (well maybe not these days) person, I prefer wine to "spirits. Your grandfather, however was a whiskey man - although he always made a cocktail with it - Manhattans, Highballs, Bourbon and soda, etc. - just about every day around five or 5:30. I remember as a child sharing Maraschino cherries from the highballs with him - he'd dip one in his drink and pass it to me when I was very young - and I always liked the taste and smell that blended with the pipe tobacco aura that surrounded him..

  2. Great stuff this week, Beth! You're my favorite librarian and I so wish you'd been around in our library when I was a kid there! But then, if you had, I wouldn't know you now.

    Andi, I'll have a Scotch with my cheese, please....

  3. i enjoyed reading this very much. the idea behind your blog is very creative!

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