Let the revolution begin!
By Mike Strobel,Toronto Sun
TORONTO - I crawled out of my sickbed long enough to see the screaming headline LIBRARIANS HOLD CITY HOSTAGE!, then dived back under the covers.
Yes, fellow citizens, the librarians. Toronto has 2,300 of them. Unless you have been dead or making out in the science fiction section, you know their CUPE Local 4948 is on strike.
They’ve thrown off the shackles of the Dewey Decimal System and are on the rampage.
On one hand, you say, “Great, now I can finish that copy of War and Peace.” On the other, you gasp, “Librarians have gone to war?!”
A lovable cynic I know thinks it’s because they emerged from their bibliophilic burrows for the first time in ages and the unseasonal heat fried their brains, made them militant.
Local 4948 says it’s on strike for better job security for part-time staff.
Either way, it’s the first library walkout in our megacity’s history.
Librarians even stayed at their posts during the 2009 strike by nearly 25,000 other city workers.
So this rebellion is as shocking as library science ever gets. But I don’t think it has anything to do with part-time job security. I think it’s social upheaval.
For eons, librarians have been a species in the genus geek. Males are typically meek, pasty, bespectacled and a bit light in the loafers. They wear their hair stringy. Females are meek, pasty, bespectacled and sensibly shod. They wear their hair in a bun.
Those are scientific facts, but we’ve cruelly twisted them, made them demeaning. Hollywood is the worst.
It’s A Wonderful Life, for example. In the alternative universe Bedford Falls, the one where George Bailey had never been born: George’s friend Violet is a sleazy club dancer, his mom is a snarly widow, his brother’s dead, his bartender’s a sadist, Uncle Billy is in an insane asylum, his former employer Mr. Gower is a poisoner and his beautiful, vivacious wife, Mary, is...
George Bailey: “Please, Clarence, where’s my wife? Tell me where my wife is.”
Clarence, the guardian angel: “You’re not going to like it, George.”
George Bailey: “Where is she? What happened to her?!”
Clarence: “She became an old maid. She never married...”
George Bailey: “Where is she? WHERE IS SHE?”
Clarence: “She’s... she’s just about to close up the library!”
(George tosses Clarence aside and runs off.)
Oh, the humanity! The horror! Mary’s a spinster librarian!
Pop culture is full of such images. So you can see their problem.
Playboy tried to help, running pictorials of buxom lasses pretending to be librarians. Other porn picked up the crusade.
To wit, such novels as Nympho Librarian. Subtitle: “The prim miss took off more than her mask of respectability behind the stacks — with any man who asked.”
Whew. But the key word is still “prim.” It just reinforces the image.
Besides, it’s fantasy. I’ve never met a nympho librarian, though god knows I’ve looked.
Librarians’ only real hope of emerging from the shadows of the reference section is full-blown insurgency.
Even lefty filmmaker Michael Moore understands the volcano, sexual and otherwise, that bubbles in every librarian:
“They are subversive. You think they’re just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They’re like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn’t mess with them.”
Mayor Rob Ford should pay heed to that. You can take on burly garbage collectors, fat cat bureaucrats and sun-baked road crews and everyone says, “Yesss!”
But you can’t win against pet-rescuers, people in wheelchairs, children, circus clowns, panda bears...or librarians.
You can bet the other city hall unions know this, as they too prepare for walkouts. It’s sort of like Saddam Hussein using kids as human shields before the first Gulf War.
This could get ugly.
Already, on the librarians’ picket lines, they’re singing “Row, row, row your boat.” Sends chills.
I foresee St. Margaret of Atwood swooping upon the mayor’s office, brandishing Moby Dick like it were Thor’s hammer.
I hear the battle cry: “Give us what we want, or we’ll make you read Ulysses!”
Keep your wits, Mr. Mayor.
Or the meek and pasty shall inherit the earth.