The Longest Weekend | Newberry

The Longest Weekend

So this pandemic season has broken up a lot of plans, a lot of routines, and a lot of things we took for granted. Some people have given up completely, and speak out about the New Normal. I intend to deny this New Normal. This is a glitch, an aberration, a temporary push of the Pause Button. I am taking a stand against this where I can, without causing any damage to the populace. I WILL, without let or hindrance, indulge in at least one Holiday tradition this weekend.

So here is your annual column reminding you not the drop off books at the Newberry during Memorial Day Weekend. The Library is locked up tight, Grilled Granola, and there is no one to bring your donations into the building.

The fact that we’ve been locked up tight for over two months now has nothing to do with it. This is a honest-to-gosh holiday, and you are supposed to be spending the time not spent in the cemetery, decorating the graves of those who have gone before, with your family, drinking lemonade and iced tea, and waiting for the hamburgers on the grill to get done. (They won’t, but all the restaurants still open are delivering these days.) There is NO Memorial Day tradition of dropping those encyclopedias off on Lampe Landing.

Yes, I know there actually is, but that’s what these annual blogs ae trying to stamp out.

And this year, of course, I will not be going in Tuesday morning to roll up my eyes and haul books inside, muttering about the mopes and miscreants who dropped things off. It will still be a week until the current end of our lockdown. And if you know anything about the delightful spring weather in Chicago, you do NOT want your treasures sitting even in the sheltered nooks of Lampe Landing for over a week.

Truth to tell, there’s no guarantee when we’ll take book donations again, once the lockdown ends. People will be allowed into the building on a very gradual basis, with those most essential members of staff taking the risk first. Or maybe the most expendable ones will be invited in first, in which case I will be at the door the second the doors are cracked open.) Then by degrees, the scholars in residence (our Fellows) will be allowed in, and maybe, once we have Plexiglass shields and new signs that say “Welcome Center: Stay Six Feet Away From Us” have been put up, we will allow casual researchers and visitors to slip in a few at a time. IF no one gets sick in the meantime, you understand, and sends us back to Square One.

Perhaps you can guess, Andouille Sundae, how much the Powers What Be are yearning to see people dropping anonymous packages on our dock once more. No, just listen. We have been taught over the past two months that an excess of caution is just about the right amount. Even if you leave a note saying you had gloves on when you packed the books and were careful to sneeze only on the encyclopedia yearbooks, they will still expect me to take your whole donation to a neutral corner in quarantine and leave it alone for about a week. Unless, of course, they realize that Uncle Blogsy’s Black Jelly Bean Spray will chase away all naughty viruses. (Fat chance of that. The WHO and CDC have not responded to any of my emails on black jelly beans as a sovereign cure. Either they’re too busy answering facemask questions, or I am up against the powerful Medical Gummiworm lobby.)

So please continue to hold off on book donations. Yes, I KNOW you’ve been spending your quarantine going through your books and possibly even reading some of the ones on that pile by the bed. You don’t want to spoil the Grand Reopening with impatience or undue haste. Sit on the books while you eat the burnt hot dog Uncle Jasper just fished out of the coals, remember to take off your mask before eating those s’mores, and wait for the all-clear to sound.

(And go out and buy more black jelly beans before the Hoarders get them.)