Once-ler Upon A Library

MJ and I went to Eagle Rock library this morning. Our mission: to return a few items (including both insect books — thank God!), pick out some new ones,  and, finally, to attend the little toddler program they offer on Wednesday mornings. It’s always a nice, low-key affair, like the branch itself, so we like to go when we’re free.

We had barely walked in the door when Myra-Jean yelled “Look! The Lorax!” I swung my head around, expecting to see a copy of the Seuss book sitting on a shelf. Instead I came face to face with a large vitrine filled with swag for “The Lorax” — the movie. From tee-shirts, tote bags, and “Truffula” pencils the furry, yellow, now-ubiquitous face mooned up at us.

Weird, I thought. Inappropriate, even.

Shaking my head, I dragged MJ away from the enticing display and into the community room. There, for a half an hour, we acted like dogs, jumped up and down, clapped our hands, and played with Melissa and Doug toys. It was all very wholesome. Innocent, even. If only we had left then!

But we didn’t. We were deep into a wooden puzzle when the librarian — a lovely young woman — rose and said “I’d like to tell you all about our exciting March raffle!” We looked up. In her arms: the same swag we’d seen earlier: a Lorax bag, a truffula pencil, and a painfully yellow Lorax tee-shirt.

Myra-Jean screeched like a pre-teen at a Justin Beiber show. “Easy there, girl,” I muttered, as she lunged against my arms in an effort to sack the librarian. “Those are not ours.”

“They can be!” sang the librarian. She explained that all we needed to do was read three Dr. Seuss books to our kids. “And I don’t mean you have to finish them. A couple of pages. Just make sure they know who the characters are.” Then we were to write those three titles down on a raffle ticket (provided at the information desk — apparently now renamed “Universal Studios East”) and wait for the end of March, when the actual drawing would take place. If we won? Furry, yellow, capitalistic bliss!

The librarian’s voice took on a shrill insistence as I lapsed into a reverie.

“Just make sure they know who the characters are…”

An image swam before my mind. It was Myra-Jean, sitting at a small table in a  dimly lit room. A lightbulb (fluorescent, of course) hung from the celling above her. She was in a metal chair. Her feet didn’t touch the ground. Across from her, a Universal executive with a Starbucks cup, Obama tee-shirt, and bluetooth earbud leaned towards her. Her raffle ticket was clutched in his boney hand.

“This says you read ‘Horton Hears A Who.’ Describe Horton.”

Myra-Jean kicked the leg of the table, picked her nose, looked around.”Where’s my pig?”

“No, no, Horton! HORTON! Color. Gender. Demographic.”

MJ squirmed in her chair. “I want a glass of milk.”

“NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!” screamed the exec. “Go back and read it again! Read them ALL again!”

I shook my head, clearing my head of the terrifying spectacle. Gathering MJ, I waved goodbye to the librarian, quickly checked out our new books ( among them: “Ladybug Girl.” Not a franchise. Yet.) and headed for the door.

Needless to say, we had neglected to fill out our raffle ticket.

As soon as we were outside a bus sped past. The Lorax stared leeringly from his spot on the side. Agh! We spun in a different direction. A person rose from a bench. The Lorax grinned from where their rump had been. Yikes! I hurried MJ to the car. On the way home, more busses. More benches. A billboard.

“Lorax, Mama! Another Lorax!” screamed MJ. “LORAAAAAAAAX!!!”

I headed for the hills of Mt Washington, where, thankfully, the yellow creature has yet to appear.

Arriving home, I brought MJ into the bedroom. It was time for nap.

“What do you want to read?” I asked.

Her eyes scanned the bookshelves. I watched as they paused on the spine of “The Lorax.” I almost hoped she would choose it. The book, after all, is the best antidote to “The Lorax” that there is.

But she didn’t. “Ladybug Girl,” my daughter responded.

Score one for the unbranded.

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