Every so often in our travels over the island, my husband and I drive past a fine dining establishment, “The Romance Bar and Restaurant.” You can see it for yourself here, courtesy of google street view:
I always excitedly point out the bar to him, and advise this would be a perfect– romantic– venue for date night. “Date night?” he says. ”We don’t need a date night, we need a fight night!” And he describes renting a boxing ring so that we can beat each other up. ”We’ll start a new trend!”
In truth we don’t need a date night, because for most of our marriage we’ve enjoyed a date afternoon. Each weekend, like clockwork, we start trawling the local public library branches. We’ve been to every public library on Staten Island (there are twelve), and we often visit several of them per weekend. Connoisseurs by this point, we have favorite branches and less favorite branches, and favorite and not so favorite spots within those libraries. All the librarians recognize us, ask about the kids, and grant my husband special favors, like the ability to use one of our kids’ library cards instead of his own in the event he forgot his at home. Between the nine of us in the house, there are seven library cards, and with each card maxing out at 50 books, that’s a lot of books to potentially bring home. Indeed, we bring duffel bags with us to accommodate the load, and often look like we’re hauling a corpse through the parking lot.
My husband truly loves libraries, and he still owns his thin, paper library card from when he was a child (it’s no longer valid). Our library adventures always put him in a good mood, and he cracks jokes relentlessly as we drive, commenting on the pedestrians. Near the projects: Ah, out for a stroll with our parasols. About the homeless guy, who opens the post office door: My man Roderick! And on the scruffy looking locals: Another fine specimen of humanity.
Before you’re impressed with our reading endeavors, don’t be. At least not with my book preferences I usually borrow cookbooks, craft books, and the odd history or art book. My husband tends to check out headier tomes, and our son read through the entire history section at the West Brighton branch, which forced us to start going to other branches, and my oldest daughter has read through the entire youth fiction sections at the West Brighton and Todt Hill branches. So we are book hounds, all nine of us. Even the serious toddler has been carefully turning pages, since she was just a few months old.