Alis seemed to have enjoyed our reading the night before, and I certainly enjoyed the story, for though I have never heard of such a creature as a hobbit, I find the notion of a culture so wholly devoted to the wholesome pleasures of home and hearth appealing. Besides, Alis always prefers having pictures to peruse while she listens to her Da’s voice.
Of course, my ulterior motive for this outing is to question the librarian on duty about the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of The Wizard of Oz from social consciousness. But when I ask, the young woman at the desk protests that she’d never heard of the book, nor the author, nor of the film or stage play, though I was certain there had been both. There are photographs of Pip dressed as the Wicked Witch of the West in the albums on our bookshelf—I know this for a fact; my questions about her green face paint had been the whole reason she had produced her battered, well-loved copy of The Wizard of Oz storybook in the first place.
Alis has begun to pick up on my distress, and starts fussing in her carrier, arching and wriggling so that the crown of her head bashes against my chin, frustrating us both. The clerk gives me the sort of pitying look that men with young children often receive in this realm— the expression that says, “Oh, your wife is too busy?” Which infuriates me even more. I heartily do not understand this mentality that men are incapable of being supportive co-parents. Why, by the Writer, would I ever want to foist my daughter solely onto my wife and have no involvement in her upbringing? She is my daughter.
“The Wizard of Oz,” I repeat, pulling the library clerk’s attention back to my inquiry, instead of my parenting abilities. “I am certain that is the correct name.”
“And yet the system says no,” the clerk replies. She gives me an insolent little smirk. If she’d been my apprentice, I would never have allowed her such cheek.
I long for a good searching spell, and perhaps the Lost Library, or, failing that, Words of Revelation so I can at least comprehend the full scope of this weirdness’s weavings. I sigh, rubbing first my brows, and then my abused chin, and then finally the top of my daughter’s head.
“Very well,” I say. “Forget about that book. I would like a copy of The Hobbit, if you have one that is illustrated.”
“No,” the clerk says. “We don’t have one.”
“No illustrated copies at all. . . .” I muse.
The clerk thumps her hand on the desk to emphasize her reply: “No. There’s no such thing as The Hobbit.”