So let’s just say that you were thinking of coming to the Book Fair Preview Night on Wednesday, July 24, so you can get first crack at the Dennis Rodman paper dolls, and you’ve never been to one of our little opening shindigs before. What do you need to know?
Well, you should know, for starters, that not just anybody is allowed in at 4 o’clock Wednesday night. This privilege is limited to Associates of the Library, a noble group of intellectuals who give us money. Even then, you must be an Associate at the Author Level or above. These are people who gave a minimum of $100. The lady who offered to send me her C.V., so that I could judge her published writings and gauge whether or not she qualified was taking things a bit too literally.
Yes, you can actually make your donation on Wednesday, but there is no particular virtue in doing so. In fact, it slows down the line. (And there is nothing to gain by it, if you were figuring that a year’s membership, what with the way the calendar works, would get you in two years running, since next year’s opening Wednesday will be just 364 days from this year’s. Nay, my friend, that’s in the small print on your card: one Book Fair preview night per customer.)
That’s right: you get a card, a membership card to show the world that the Newberry puts you at the level of Authors or Above. (This and fifty-five cents will get you a cardboard cup of hot chocolate from the vending machine.) There are other nifty freebies that come with your generosity, but the other one that is pertinent to our lecture today is a postcard inviting you to attend the Preview Night. (Another reason to send the money good and early—try the Website—is so the Postal Service has time to get you that postcard.)
On Wednesday, you need to show your membership card or your postcard to get in. The card entitles you to bring ONE significant other: not your extended family and their dogs. Dogs sit in front of the Nature section all night and sneer at the cat books, so we can’t have them clogging the aisles.
Now, if you plan to be part of the four o’clock rush, the smart way to do it is to come earlier. That morning, someone will be in the lobby checking cards and issuing tickets. These tickets are numbered. This is so that you can now Go Away and Let Us Be while we finish preparations. At three o’clock, a line starts to form, and you are entitled to take your numbered place in line. We do not go out of our way to enforce these numbers because we find the people in line take care of that for us. If you are number 42, number 35 and number 17 will make sure you do not slip in ahead of them, or, indeed, of 40 and 41. (Why would you want to sneak in ahead of good old 41, who just comes to look for John F. Kennedy postcards? What kind of meanie are you?)
By the way, please stop at your own bathroom before you leave home. We have had a few cases of people sneaking in at 3:15 or so to use the facilities, browse in the bookstore, admire our wall hangings, and just generally look as if they aren’t trying to get a look at the books forty seconds ahead of the people waiting politely in line. This is why people are patrolling in the bookstore and the restrooms are mysteriously out of order from about three on.
I think that’s all you need to know, beyond my annual suggestion that it’s a lot easier to come in if you wait until about 4:15. Yeah, I know, I know. Easier to socre touchdowns when the other team’s gone home.