Royalty Mania

Here’s a little story in dialogue I wrote three or four years ago. At the time, it was done as an exercise and I considered it over-the-top satire. However, check the link I provide after.

An Arresting Conversation

Did you hear Dee was arrested last night?

“What for”

Violating intellectual property rights. It was only a matter of time before she was caught, of course. I don’t know how she thought she’d get away with it. Wasn’t it just obvious, walking into a bookstore with four children and buying only one copy of a book?

“I don’t know how anyone with a large family does it any more. It must be difficult to pay for four of everything.”

That’s why I stopped after one child. I don’t believe it’s responsible to keep having so many kids if you can’t afford to raise them within the law.

“She might not be guilty, though. Just because she only had one copy of the book doesn’t mean she was reading it to all the kids at the same time. Maybe she bought it for only one of them. Or else she was taking turns reading it to each child individually. I’m pretty sure that’s legal, reading the same copy of a book to different children in the family. So long as no more than one child is being read to at a time. The evidence seems pretty circumstantial to me.”

There were witnesses. Hell, she wasn’t even trying to hide it. She sat right out on her front porch with three of her children and read to them all at once from one copy of the same book. In plain view of everyone. At least she didn’t have the 11-year-old out there. I’ve heard rumors she still reads to him, even though he’s clearly past the 10-year-old legal cutoff age for any sort of literacy sharing.”

“I never understood how the government decided on 10 as the age at which you have to stop reading to kids. It seems so young in some ways.”

“If the schools are doing any job at all, a child should be well able to read anything they need to on their own by that age. Of course if a child has a learning disability, their parents can get an exemption with a signed form from an educational professional.

I still don’t know how Dee could be so stupid. Doesn’t she remember all the trouble Lisa got into last year when she was caught singing copyrighted lullabies to her toddler?And another thing. Don’t these mothers even care what values they’re instilling in their kids? They’re raising them to be thieves.

“Sometimes I wonder, though…I have fond memories of my parents singing to me, and of us reading together as a family. We didn’t have a lot of money, so that was our entertainment. It was free back then. In a way, it seems like things were simpler in those days.”

It was free to you, maybe, but at the expense of someone else. Food is free, too, for the person who shoplifts it.

“I know there has to be some regulation. But do you ever think the laws have gone a little too far?”

Oh, come on! Do you really want to go back to the days of hand-me-down clothes and libraries?

“I’m not an extremist. I was only thinking it wouldn’t hurt anyone for there to be a little more leeway for someone like Dee, who’s struggling with all those children. Maybe as long as she wasn’t reading to children outside her own family, she should be allowed probation. It does seem like the compassionate thing to do.

Then again, can we say she was reading only to her kids, when she was sitting right outside where anybody walking by could hear? You’re way too naïve sometimes. Dee’s not the innocent you take her for. I’ve never mentioned this to anyone, but she’s stolen from me before.

“You’re kidding! What did she take?”

She was with me one day when I told my son…Never mind exactly what I said to him. But I was using one of my own original childrearing techniques with a script I had written myself. When Dee saw how well my discipline method worked, she laughed and told me she was going to remember it. Not a week later she used my exact words to one of her own children right in front of me. Didn’t offer me a cent of reimbursement…I can see you’re surprised. I was too. I couldn’t have felt more shocked if she had grabbed the purse from my arm and walked off with it.

“Speaking of kids, I have to feed mine. I’d better go and get some dinner started.”

What are you cooking tonight? I could sell you some of my recipes if you ever run out of ideas.

“Thanks but I inherited plenty from my parents. See you later – trademark.”


Apparently there’s a group in Belgium who would see this as a utopian scenario, as they want libraries to pay royalties for story time.

Adventures in Communication

My day job (and often evening job and weekend job) takes place in a public library. For a middle-sized Midwestern city, my town is home to a fair number of non-native English speakers, probably because we also have a fair number of colleges and universities. Many of these folks find their way to the library.

I have a lot of respect for someone who is willing to move to a new land, learn a new language and actually go out in public to communicate with strangers. I’m not sure I’d have the courage, myself. It’s a good exercise for me to speak with someone who is still learning English. I have to practice true listening and I relearn the lesson that sometimes communication takes effort.  But if I keep trying and the patron keeps trying, we almost always end up arriving at an understanding.

I’ve had enough experience with this by now, some things are easy. Somebody looking for ESL materials? I get that one right the first try almost every time. Somebody looking for something more particular? Well….

This morning, it was a gray-haired gentleman asking for books by, um – Chaser? Much known English writer. Okay, I understood that part of the explanation. From age ago. Alright – not contemporary, then. My mind was working – much known, wrote in English, ages ago – Chaser? Chaucer! Chaucer! Did he want books by Chaucer? No, not Chaucer – Chaser.  Okay, let’s keep working.  Does the gentlemen know any titles by this writer? Yes – Juries Seize Her. We’re not quite to charades yet, but almost. Author sounds like Chaser. Title sounds like Juries Seize Her. Aha!  Julius Caesar by Shakespeare!  He wanted to read Shakespeare!

See: patience, listening, persistence, successful communication! We did it!