In Boston where I live, every Borders store is closing.  It’s sad news, especially for sex.  I’ve always found the Borders staff to be a sex-positive bunch who don’t keel over with horror when I ask for the Sex section.  What’s more, Borders actually has a Sex section.  And that’s a political stance.  Acknowledging the need for Sex or Erotica shelves is akin to announcing that sex is important – and baby, that’s a statement I respect.

Frankly, my relationship with bookstores often turns sour when I ask for the Sex and Erotica sections.  Recently, in a little indie establishment, the bookseller responded by raising her nose in disgust and telling me this was a family store.  Well, where the hell does she think family comes from, dammit?  To prove a point, I spent my final few moments hunting the shelves for hypocrisy.  I found Nabakov’s Lolita, Anais Nin’s Delta of Venus, and Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith.  All of them can be classified as erotica and two of them contain incestuous sex.  I’m pretty sure incest isn’t “family store” material.  Snort.  It seems that snooty woman was housing the bookshelves of doom!

In truth, any bookseller who claims they don’t stock books about sex has got to be pretty naive.  Let’s face it, you can’t avoid the topic.  It’s where we come from.  And understanding sexuality is vital.  For instance, a teenage boy who is beginning to believe he might be gay should be able to easily get his hands on a book about sexual identity.  Likewise, he should be able to find literature about safe sex without having to ask stony-faced people who send him away with a flea in his ear.  I can’t think of a more family friendly policy than having a sex section that anyone can locate.  Not getting pregnant by mistake, not living in shame, not having unprotected sex…these are family friendly notions.

Still, it isn’t all doom and gloom.  Bookstores with sex-positive policies do exist, and thankfully many librarians are knowledgeable about sexuality.  I used to live near an excellent library where the collection of sex books was expanded every year.  That said, I once borrowed a copy of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and was greeted with a glare when I handed it over at the desk.  (It was actually so hilarious that I got a fit of the giggles!).  But would she have glared if I was a shy teenage girl who was borrowing a book on abortion?  And what if that shy teenager wasn’t used to libraries, and had to ask a library assistant for help locating such a book?

So that’s one of the reasons I will miss Borders.  But the battle isn’t lost.  Next time you’re in a bookstore, ask for the sex section, especially if you know there isn’t one.  Do it because you’re politically proactive and want plant a seed.  Because the more we learn that sexual openness is vital, the more healthy this world will be.

Librarians freak the shit out of me.
All of them wear glasses and even the pretty ones look tired.
I scream, Stop being so tired.  They sit in their librarian chairs for five hours and scan
Tolstoy and Seuss.
No one’s outside fixing phone wires in thirty degree wind.
What’s the problem, people?
Wake up.
You have master’s degrees in Library Science,
you read in three languages.  
Hell, I was a librarian once, in college,
I know what it is like;
I smoked pot in the men’s room,
walked upstairs and made love to the coeds
in Reference.
That’s what kept me going until I lost my mind one day
doing cocaine in Periodicals
while I was supposed to be Dewey Decimal-ing
the entire Non-Fiction section.
I loved David Halberstam and David McCullough,
the smell of World War II and Abraham Lincoln,
and it was cold outside.
It was a dream job—
everyone was quiet,
the building was quiet,
the earth around the building was still
and even the stray dogs that ran through the lobby
did not bark.  
So, it freaks me out when I walk into my branch on Homer Ave.
and try to be nice to the women at Circulation.
No one smiles and the halls of literature weep.
It’s a damned shame.
These ladies act like Secret Service Agents
but the only president here
is the president of silence.
Their pencil tips are finely sharpened and even the young ones have chapped lips.
It makes me mad
because in twenty years
I’m afraid there won’t be any more books.  
Maybe these ladies are so morose
because in the secret society of librarians,
they already know this—
that their extinction is imminent.
If so, they should drink more beer before work
and no one should wear a bra.
That way when The Man comes to say their services are no longer required
they will already be drunk and half way to naked
while the rest of us watch
as they burn books into their chests
then run wild into the woods out back
while the book police take aim
and fire at will.

I have a confession to make, and it’s a hell of a thing to admit to in my first post to a classy writing website like this. I mean, I feel like the guy in an Obama shirt at the Klan rally, but I really want to start off on an honest footing here at TNB.

I’m not a reader.