Enthusiasm overrides judgement


This seems to be the time of the year when we spend time reviewing (and maybe even evaluating) our actions and decisions over the past year. It is a good thing to do this, especially if you’re like me, and set goals for each new year. Sometimes our choices are painful, while others have us shaking our heads, laughing, and thinking to ourselves, “Now why did I do that?”

Every once in while my enthusiasm gets the better of my judgement. In 2016, Miss Kelly and I decided we HAD to have a fog machine. It would really perk up our Halloween programs and delight the children. Miss Susan’s reaction, “Is this an essential purchase?” “Oh, yes,” we zealously replied. “Susan,” I said, “Really, this will be great. Just wait and see.”

Kelly and I found a REALLY GOOD DEAL on Amazon so we bought the machine and a gallon of the “juice” that makes the fog. We were so excited when it arrived and promptly unpacked it, read the directions and gave it a test run. Fog started to fill the community room and Kelly and I were just delighted with the result.

WHOOP! WHOOP! WHOOP! The fire alarms went off in a calliope of sound. We could hear sirens in the distance. Staff were guiding customers out of the building. Our fog machine had set off the smoke detectors. Oh, boy! Did we have egg on our face. But, really and truly, it was a great idea. If you know of anyone who needs/wants/has to have a fog machine, do we have a deal for you!

I really do have to give Susan credit. She never once said, “I told you so.” However, in 2017, each time my passion threatened to overrule my decision making, Susan would shake her finger at me and utter just two words, “Fog machine.” Yep, that would put a wet blanket in my fervor.

Enter 2018. There is the announcement that the Bon-Ton is closing. This was THE PERFECT opportunity for the library to acquire a mannequin.

When I worked at the university/public library in Florida, the college had a design school. The dean of the school approached me to ask if the library would be willing to display the fashion design students’ creations. At any given time we’d have 20 to 30 outfitted mannequins throughout the building. The customers loved to look at the student work and, believe me, some of it was quite unique. The library would often put directional signs with the mannequins to guide folks to certain areas of the collection.

MCL was going to have a mannequin, come &*%$ or high water, I was not to be deterred! I had to have a mannequin or I could not die a happy woman. While the board supported me (or perhaps they just indulged me because it was easier than arguing with me), Susan kept saying, “Don’t encourage her. We don’t need this.”

I would not be dissuaded even when my favorite county maintenance supervisor adamantly stated, “No, I will not go pick up a nekked mannequin and drive around the streets of Lewistown with that thing in the back of a county vehicle.”

So, like the Little Red Hen, I did it myself. Well, not actually. Kathy Knarr went with me. Entering the Market Street entrance of the store, we spied 8-10 mannequins. I just knew the perfect one was among the offerings. Kathy and I were like two children trying to pick out the perfect Christmas tree. All of a sudden Kathy looked at me and said, “Molly, these things don’t have heads.” “I know,” I said, “isn’t it great? They are gender neutral so we won’t be limited with always having to have all girls or boys.” Poor Kathy, I just bowled her over with my quest for THE mannequin.

That nice display manager at the Bon-Ton gave us such a deal. We exited the store, Kathy carrying the torso and me with the arms and legs. Walking across Market, motorists waved and honked their horns, laughingly acknowledging two grown women carrying body parts in the streets of Lewistown.

I was so happy and for several weeks the mannequin sat in my office while I contemplated all the possibilities. There was just one teeny, tiny, small problem.

Shem (yes, I named the mannequin) didn’t have a head but that was no great obstacle, I determined. I called my hair stylist and she ordered a styrofoam wig stand. See, problem easily solved. Well, not quite. We tried a glue gun; then clear packing tape. We tried to bind body to head with a scarf. Hmmm……we tried a plastic pumpkin head, followed by a milk jug. The darn head kept falling off whenever a child hugged the costumed mannequin.

We had this really great witch at Halloween that lasted until a child crawled under Shem’s skirt. The head rolled onto the floor. The arms fell off. The legs collapsed. So, we put Shem in Susan’s office until we had time to put she/him back together. Susan was not happy!

Cathy Keiser and I decided we needed a Library elf for Christmas. Cathy created the BEST elf. Shem got elf ears and pointy shoes, a big smile and we glued, taped and tied a tight scarf about his neck to hold the head on. Yep, perfect!

One day a little boy came into the building and saw the elf. Before going downstairs he told his mother that he would like to “Say hi to the elf.” He walked up to it, all giddy, and said, “Nice to meet you, elf!” About 10 minutes later Shem’s head fell off. I’m so glad it didn’t happen when the little one could see it.

Should I rethink the mannequin idea? Did my enthusiasm override my judgement? Nope! Well, maybe just a little. Will 2019 include another great idea? Will Miss Susan have to remind me of “THE mannequin?” Stay tuned…..you just never know.

Happy New Year from the Board, Staff, and Friends of the Mifflin County Library.

Molly S. Kinney is the Director at the Mifflin County Library. She and Shem are currently reading One Last Breath by Lisa Jackson.