I’ve been coming here at roughly the same time of day often enough to notice the same people are here most of the time. There’s a woman who is here with her daughter nearly every time I’m here; I’m pretty sure they home school, and this is as good a place as any to have access to books and a computer, where there’s no chance of sloughing off math to watch All My Children. There’s a group of older teens who occupy the same table towards the back of the library; they’re always very quiet and have stacks of books in front of them—some even open—so I’m pretty sure they’re studying. I haven’t figured out where they go to school; maybe the satellite campus to Solano Community College. Or maybe they all go to the main campus, but meet here to study because they all live in Vacaville (phfft, yes, these are the things that flit through my mind.)
And then there’s the old guy. Every place I frequent seems to have a resident old guy. At the Beavercreek YMCA it was Creepy Old Guy; he always seemed to be walking in the swimming pool lane next to me, and he always stared. Every time I’d come up for air, there he was, watching. At the Barnes & Noble cafe there was the Other Creepy Old Guy, who sat there with a cup of coffee—I’m not sure I ever actually saw him drink any—and watched the people coming and going. He wasn’t exactly creepy, but I’ve never come up with a better name for him. Observation Man? Quiet Old Dude? In the end, I kind of liked him, even though I never knew him.
And here...the old guy isn’t creepy. He sits in the same chair at the end of one of the book aisles, and reads. Logic says he could check those books out and take them home to read, but I get it. Why bother when there’s this fantastic place to sit and read, and to watch people in between chapters? I think he’s here for the same reason I am: home has distractions that prevent anything from really getting done. Here has distractions that seem atmospheric.
If I can write while sitting in the library, being entertained by the kids who dance up and down the aisle to tunes only they can hear, why can’t he be here, reading?
I like that he doesn’t stare. While I gradually came to realize that Creepy Old Guy at the pool was not staring out of perversion, but because he needed something to do to keep from dying of boredom while he walked his laps, and the Other Creepy Old Guy was just a people-watcher and I only noticed him because we were both there a lot, I don’t like being stared at.
Hell, I don’t much like being noticed, period. Yet I also wonder if any of them have clued into this regularness, if they realize we’re all here at the same times, but respecting each others’ need for privacy and space, or if I’m just the oddball who seems to notice these things.
Um, yeah, I fully realize it could be the latter. And I’m ok with that. There’s nothing wrong with being an oddball, as long as you don’t inflict your oddness on other people.
I need to come up with a name for the new Old Guy in my life. Not-So-Creepy Old Guy? Reader Man? Book Worm Guy?
I’d ask him what he wants to be known as in the empty hallways of my brain, but he’s got a very big book in his lap, and I’m afraid he might hit me with it.