Source: Shiftgig

“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.”

Maurice Switzer, Mrs. Goose, Her Book

All I want to do at the moment is shush people. From listening to public officials to overhearing conversations from complete strangers, I have this vast desire to hiss out colossal “Shhhhh!”

No, this is not a sly way to discuss my career as a librarian. Although I looked the part (frightfully so sometimes), I thankfully never acted it; in any stereotypical way, to my knowledge. For instance, I’m positive that I never once shushed anyone in reading rooms, at the reference desk, or in the stacks. Truth be told, aspiring raconteur in the making, I was probably the loudest one in all those rooms.

But all of that is behind me now anyway. I’m just looking for some peace and quiet at the moment. Besides, I’m told that keeping my mouth shut is sexy. I know this because Gorgeous reminds me of it at regular intervals.

So, please raise your hand if you also wish people would just shut up already.


My earliest memories of being shushed in public was at age nine, when my mother did so in a grocery store. My crime was singing Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” out loud in a shopping aisle. The song was infectiously popular at the time. Those glorious harmonies, and in particular Paul Simon’s exceedingly cool lyrics, made it a persistent earworm for me. Hey, hey, hey.

I knew next to nothing about the movie from which the song originated, “The Graduate,” starring Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman. That it was about a young man having an affair with an older married woman wasn’t even on my preadolescent radar. I just loved the song, and I sang it endlessly while riding my bike, standing behind second base while playing baseball, and I assume in my sleep too.

Back in that grocery aisle, however, my mother was having none of this. It may have been 1968, but no amount of Life Magazine covers displaying expressions of free love and the coming sexual revolution would permit her to look the other way when her youngest son is singing about Mrs. Robinson. Inside the neighborhood A&P no less.


Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson
Source: The Chicago Sun Times

Of course, I also remember that it was just a year later when a copy of Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint sat in our living room for anyone to pick up, thumb through, and digest at will. I didn’t fret about the contradictions at play here; one merely took advantage of what was offered at that age. I do recall, though, that it took years before I could eat liver and onions again,.

I’m thinking about all of this (the shushing, not Portnoy’s Complaint) because as she often has throughout my adult life, I am again keenly aware of my mother’s reproving presence. Forget the so-called monkey on the back, I instead have a Jewish mother sitting on my shoulder and whispering advice in my ear. In our current environment of hyper-partisanship and outwardly expressed rage, I hear her telling me to keep my mouth firmly shut.

I see people in stores not wearing masks, and I’m tempted to walk up and say something to them.

Shhhhh!,” whispers that familiar spirit voice in my head. “And clean your ears too!

She’s right. About staying silent.

A younger version of me, perhaps with questionable ear hygiene, I assume would be speaking out right now at those people who ignoring safe practices. I have no doubt that young man, striding with his own sense of purpose, would be making a nuisance of himself (along with anyone else who had the unfortunate circumstance of being in his company). And we can also guess what the end-result of such “missionary work” would be: a return fire of hostility, coupled with the very real possibility of some dude nearby firing up his phone and filming a video of it to post online. Look ma, I’m famous!


Oh, go on. Play the video. Namaste for humans and dog!

After the 2016 election, I created a Twitter account in an attempt to find solidarity with those who share my same outlook and outrage. Being on that platform gave me a glimmer of the former… and unfortunately boatloads of the latter. In hindsight, I should have known better. So no matter the outcome next month, I plan on deleting that account. It’s served its purpose.

I also bet I won’t be alone in creating some 2021 New Year’s resolutions that will have a lot to do with navigating to calmer waters. Our country itself may not, but this particular boy will definitely be searching for it. Woo, woo, woo.

And that young librarian? The one who never shushed? I told you he at least looked the part. Scary, isn’t it?

Circa early 1990’s. Dig the haircut.
Apologies to my old librarian pal Gwen for digging this “chestnut” up again.

Blogger’s Note: I will be taking some time off until late November. Buckle up and stay safe, my friends.

Until next time…

25 thoughts on “Shhhh!

  1. This was Hil.Lar.Rious!!!!!
    I can just imagine it all – from the belting out of Mrs. Robinson to picking up the Portnoy’s Complaint and added to that your valiant withholding of natural ‘librarian’ urges to Shush the public!
    Added to that, all things twitter – don’t forget to delete the account!
    Enjoy your time off in Nov – I hope you get to do something fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had no idea what that song was about either and it had lyrics that I couldn’t understand (“Heaven holds a place for those who bray”… was it about donkeys?).

    Enjoy your break… you will be missed. Hopefully when you return in November, our country will be in better, kinder, smarter (and larger) hands.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I like Twitter, but then I’m following so few people that I rarely get annoyed. Enjoy your blogging break. I’ve taken a few over the years and always come back more focused and inspired. May it be the same for you. Take care, be safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I watch a little news in the morning and try to find a couple of shows in the evening. My mute button has become my best friend. There really is no news, it’s just opinion, and a lot of times I just want quiet instead of pontificating. I definitely heard, shhhh, yesterday morning when I stopped at the grocery store with the 5′ sign saying you couldn’t enter without a mask and there she was, a 60+ year-old woman with no mask. Hope you have a good vacation, but your humor will be missed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Marty, sorry that I’ve returned to blogging just before your break – your humour will be missed. Hope to see you back again soon, even though I understand the need to get away from the noise.

    I did have a good chuckle over the image you painted of yourself & your mother in the shopping. My family are all loud – always have been, always will be. I was once sshh’d by my current boss’s wife at the company Christmas gathering. I was surprised, and not a little offended – for if a Christmas party isn’t the time for a bit of noise, I don’t know when is. What came as a greater surprise was when virtually every one of my colleagues insisted we went outside “for a smoke” and then proceeded to rant about my being sshh’d. I was touched.

    I don’t see you as a sshh-ing librarian, rather as a knowledgeable and enthusiastic one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh dear, Deb. Your boss’s wife clearly wasn’t happy that evening, and I suspect her frustration probably had nothing to do with you at all. Good for your colleagues at rallying around you like that.

      Yes, I thought as we inched closer to the election here, that my attempts at humor might appear more like Nero fiddling. So it’s a good time for a break. 😉 Stay safe!


  6. Ha, ha, ha…….Shhhh and librarian. Our parent’s voices never leave us, even when they have left us. Not a scary looking young librarian/aspiring raconteur. Enjoy your time off, Marty. You will be missed and I look forward to your return. All decibel levels welcome.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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