Yes, we are that dorktastic. Not only are we the ones hanging out there on weekend afternoons, reading People and US Weekly -- um, we mean, New Republic and The Economist -- but we absolutely love books. Especially an endless supply of free ones. So when we heard that an exciting new group, Young Friends of the Kansas City Public Library, was having its kickoff event -- a martini happy hour -- at the Plaza branch on April 29, we just had to call Research Assistant Laura and check it out. The idea of tippling in a library just seemed deliciously naughty, and, as many of you know, we're all about the naughty. (Also, because we like themes, this gave the Night Ranger the chance to revert to her former career as a book editor and use footnotes again.)
Shockingly enough, this was our first visit to the newly opened Plaza branch. We're happy to report that it's just as spectacular as rumored. The interior is sparse and modern, with its concrete floors and IKEA-esque furniture, and its crowning touches are the huge windows that overlook the Plaza.¹ The Young Friends set up a band (a guitar-and-bongos duo) by the windows and offered free food (we loved how two retrorific Jell-O molds with marshmallows sat by chips and dip and smoked salmon) and martinis, all of which lent a festive air to this unlikely shindig venue.
As we sipped our Cosmos, we wandered around and had a lovely time. Considering that only a frequently forwarded e-mail went out to publicize this event, there was a rather good turnout of about 50. A guy in flip-flops quietly sat at a table, watching the band, while a few others danced. A quartet of hipsters sat in the teen section, reading comic books and drinking. The crowd ran the gamut from a couple of Barbie types to a preponderance of guys rocking the gay/not-gay look and people usually spotted at indie-rock shows. All, however, were united by their love of books -- or civic causes or martinis. Or all of the above.
One of the first people we accosted was Adam, 27, who was snazzily dressed in a fluorescent yellow-green sweater. Turns out he's on the board of directors for Young Friends, so gave us one of those stock quotes about his group. "It's a good opportunity for young people to be involved with the library," he told us.
"So what's your favorite branch?" we asked.
"That's tough," he answered. "I'd have to say Westport. It has a great feel -- it's a small library -- and it has a good collection."²
Next, we met Ravi ("I'm 22 ... and three-quarters") and Trevor, 24, who were perusing the DVD section. Both live nearby at one of those grand old apartments on Brush Creek. They were psyched about the new addition to their neighborhood.
"It's exciting we have access to this," Trevor said. "Now there's more to the Plaza than 'Fooleries and the Falloon." (Thank God for that.)
"So do you have any library stories you can share, such as any incidents of having sex in the stacks?" we inquired.
"Well, once in college [the University of Nebraska in Omaha], I had an incident right in the back corner," Trevor said. "It was in the 900s, which I believe is anthropology -- which is fitting and just." (How postmodern! That certainly gives new meaning to the term field work.)
"There's nothing so scandalous on this side," Ravi answered. "At Mizzou, the library was notorious for being old and segmented. I was probably the only one on campus who didn't have sex there. I could have lost my library card," he added.
"God forbid!" Trevor said.
"Hey, it's running a real risk there," Ravi continued. "So what about you?"
"Um, I never had sex in a library," the NR admitted.³
"We didn't ask for a sex story," Trevor said. "How about a time in high school when you got really drunk and camped out on the porch? Uh, not that I'm speaking from personal experience ... damn it!"
"Or read a good book?" Ravi added. Well, we'll just have to go with the Young Friends happy hour as our great library experience. Especially since we continued our sex-in-the-stacks discussion with Mischa, 23, a reporter for Dos Mundos. We had spotted him dancing earlier, so we caught him in a quiet moment as he was looking at one of the special display shelves in the middle of the room. He confessed to hooking up in the stacks in college, too (at Columbia University), then assessed the sex possibilities of the Plaza Library by trying to rock the shelves with his hand.
"Well, you can fuck up against them and they won't turn over," he said. "But they're a little low, and you can see over them. Plus it's very well-lit in here." A little too well-lit for any antics, we regretfully noted.
According to Gretchen Dombrock, who helped coordinate the happy hour, the Young Friends are planning other social events to be held every couple of months until the group is up and running.4 Future events won't be free, but they'll probably include cool activities, such as a literary-pub crawl of libraries and bookstores and another party in the Plaza branch while the Plaza lights are on. Speaking of turned on, all we ask is for more opportunities to imbibe in any of the libraries. After a few martinis, you'll probably find us in the back, checking out the 400s: linguistics. Or learning other tongues.
(2) Actually, we do like this branch as well. We shouldnt give away this secret, but were fans because weve had some pretty good luck in finding the newest books on its shelves. However, its cozy proportions just intensify the BO smell that sometimes lurks there, so we really wouldnt recommend it as a hangout library.
(3) Though making out in one is one of our fantasies. Nothing says sexxy (yes, that warranted two xs) like running into a hot guy between the shelves, who proceeds to seductively read out loud, say, the poems of Jewel. Or the prose of Ethan Hawke. Mmm ... The Hottest State indeed.
(4) E-mail email@example.com for more information on Young Friends of the Kansas City Public Library.