Some people like to do it in the late afternoon, while other people like to do it at mid-day. Some people get up at three in the morning, so they don’t miss their chance. It’s a free country.
I refer, of course, to rushing into the Newberry to buy art books and old postcards at the Book Fair. We have a preview for our Associates on Wednesday, July 22, at 4 P.M., and then we open for the public at noon on Thursday, July 23. If you have qualified to be one of our Associates by a $100 or better donation ($50 if you’re under 35), you may come in on Wednesday morning, after about 8, and pick up a ticket which indicates your place in line. As the line does not form until 3, this ticket gives you the right to GO SOMEWHERE ELSE while we run around and apply finishing touches to the Fair. (And try to run a Library: some people actually prefer to go upstairs and read books instead of standing in line to buy them. As I said, it’s a free country.)
The Running of the Bulls, as it is known, happens at precisely 4 P.M. when customers rush in. (Walking, not running: security will sometimes make you go back to the door and start over. If you’re that nostalgic for first grade, go find a playground and push someone off the slide.) This is not, despite folklore to the contrary, simply a swarm of Evil Book Dealers, waiting to mow down all opposition. There are just as many non-professional booklovers in the line, waiting to mow down all opposition. I have mentioned before that if you come at 4:15 with your Associates’ Invitation, you can stroll in casually without all the ruckus. But some people NEED to come through that door at one second past four, to catch up the first copy of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood of this season. It’s a free…I guess I’ve mentioned that, too.
Other people, as noted, are just as happy to wait for the public opening, at which we really do have a repeat of Wednesday’s Running of the Bulls. This one is occasionally accompanied by grumbles about what the swarms of Evil Book Dealers got away with the night before. Confidentially, there are just as many book dealers in this crowd as there were the night before, but you won’t recognize them. This being a less traditional occasion than Preview Night, many of them do not wear their horns and tails or carry their pitchforks. But then, it’s a…you got that already.
For those who have never been here for either Running of the Bells, yes, we do have restrooms. (These are often mysteriously out of order Wednesday afternoon, ever since we caught people waiting in there so they could rush into the book rooms at 3:58.) Because somebody asked me once, I will go further and say that we do, indeed, have more than one restroom. The questioner assumed that a library would have one bathroom, hidden behind a paneled wooden door, with one lightbulb dangling from the ceiling next to the chain you had to pull to flush. We do NOT have an ATM (there’s one a block and a half away, and others within three blocks) and we do NOT have pay phones. We do NOT serve refreshments: go to one of the places with an ATM and buy something there (don’t bring it into the book rooms, please. It ain’t THAT free a country.)
This all begins on July 22, or, for those who are being misled by the weather into thinking it’s still May, two weeks from tomorrow. Make plans, set your alarm clock, and prepare plenty of cash. (Guess what isn’t free.)