On Wednesday I was down on the main floor of the library, looking for more Yoko Tawada books (we didn’t have any so I bought another yesterday). I was on my break but not wearing a hat. Usually that’s my signifier that I’m not working. I leave the desk and grab whatever baseball cap I have along. Then I can wander the stacks without people thinking I’m working. Years ago I had a name tag, we’re all supposed to have nametags, that I could take off when necessary but mine is long since lost. I don’t know if it works, if anyone in the library makes the connection between hat-wearing me and not-working me, or if the pattern is too haphazard and only noticeable to me.

Anyway, Wednesday I’m heading back up to Section 22 when Beard Lady spots me and wants to talk about Elvis. “He’s only in English you know. I never listen to the sounds but they don’t get Jose Feliciano to sing in Spanish when he’s on the screen. Elvis is only in English. Even in the army…” yadda yadda yadda.

I am not wearing a hat so I don’t feel I can just ignore her. If I had been wearing a hat it would have been enough of a disguise to let me pass unmolested. She gets me confused with the guy whose job I filled anyway. Always calls me by the wrong nickname when she comes to the desk. As of right now she usually refers to me as Beard and him as Denmark, but for a while I was known to Beard Lady as Sperm (because “sperm all die just like the rest of us” which, when I write it out, sounds kind of ominous).

Her rant about Elvis being in English goes kind of long and I’m due back on my floor. I’m slowly walking away while the speech veers into dermatology and she smacks the skin of her throat (she’s too thin to have jowls, but she’s smacking where her jowls would be) with the backs of her fingers saying “I don’t have any relief here! There’s no dermatology! I’m being ruined by this knowledge!” And I tiptoed back to the desk, apologizing for my tardiness. Everyone there understands.

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