I’ve been running on fumes all week. My best friend came into town this weekend and stayed through Wednesday morning, so we’d been staying up late catching up, sometimes over pomegranate martinis. Wednesday afternoon, I should have come home and taken a nap, but instead, I changed and headed out to the Little Rock Film Festival. I didn’t make it in time to get into the movie, and could have gone home and taken a nap, done a quick workout, and gone to bed. Instead, I drank a beer and read a book called Rapture Ready, which is about Christian pop culture. I skipped getting caught up on sleep in order to learn about Christian stand up comedy and Christian wrestling.
I don’t exactly regret making that choice because the book is really interesting, but this morning, I drank as much coffee as I could stand, edging towards the early stages of caffeine poisoning where I buzz around like a hummingbird and start to think I can actually feel my hair growing before falling asleep on the nearest flat surface. Still a little draggy, I went to work.
We hadn’t been open long before a patron who’d checked out one of our laptops came to ask me how to log on to the machine. I followed her back to the corner where she’d set up, pushed a few buttons, and up popped a picture of a smiling woman proudly showing off her vagina.
That woke me up more than another cup of coffee could have done.
I quickly pushed a few more buttons, minimizing the image before trying to figure out what was going on. Did she set that situation up, like it might be funny to shock the librarian? Was that meant to be funny? I quickly realized from her reaction that she hadn’t expected that either. I pulled up another screen and whoever had used the computer last hadn’t logged out of their email. The image could have come from there. I told the woman I’d get her a different computer.
I wasn’t scandalized so much as I was caught off guard. I wrote a paper on pornography in college (I’d been given other options, but the rest of them were so tedious and dry that I chose to go with erotica.) Since then, I’ve read up on topics from modern day burlesque to the ins and outs of legalized brothels in Nevada. I’ve even tried go-go dancing and strip aerobics workouts. I’ll give the woman in the picture this: It’s not easy to sit up and smile while you simultaneously have your legs spread straight up in the air like that. It takes a lot of core strength, and, frankly, my hamstrings are too tight to pull that off.
So, the picture shouldn’t have happened, and we have systems that block explicit material, but it’s hard to pull off perfectly. Let’s face it, people who want to see that kind of stuff are probably willing to put more time and energy into finding a way to do it than I can afford to put into preventing it. So, we do our best, but every once in a while something may get through.
In fact, when I was at Florida State, I had to use the computer labs on campus for a few weeks because I’d spilled red wine in my laptop and had to get it repaired. (It was my first and only glass of wine that night. I’m just really clumsy, but that didn’t stop the computer repair guy from giving me the fish eye when I explained what happened. Meanwhile, he was a two finger typist who misspelled the word “keyboard,” so I resent him being so quick to judge me.)
I was in a lab in university library’s basement, staring off into space trying to think of something profound to say about Victorian literature, when suddenly I caught a glimpse of what the guy sitting one row ahead of me had on his screen. I blinked and thought, “Is that a nipple?” It was. It struck me as weird, but it never occurred to me that he wasn’t allowed to do it. I never considered telling someone who worked at the library what I saw.
So, when I was strolling through an isolated part of the library several months later and noticed another guy looking at naked pictures on one of the school’s desktops, I rolled my eyes and kept on walking.
Now, I know that there a policies about that type of thing, and I took the machine to our tech services person and told her what I’d found. But suddenly, I was wide awake as I settled in to read some trade publications.