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These days, I'm the director of the American Library Association' s Office for Intellectual Freedom. I'm also executive director and secretary of the Freedom to Read Foundation.

ALA correspondence goes to jlarue [at] ala [dot] org. Phone: 3 1 2 . 2 8 0 . 4 2 2 2
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

The torment of Armenian women

I lit out of Chicago this morning hoping to catch an early flight back to Denver. No luck. So I had a four hour layover at Midway. And you know what? That sounded great.

First, it turns out that someone has sprinkled the airport with big white rocking chairs. I bought a cup of coffee, and happened upon such a chair. For about an hour, I rocked and beamed at the many, extraordinarily beautiful people on the slidewalks. Many people remarked to me about how utterly happy I looked, in my straw hat, sport coat, Hawaiian shirt, white chinos, bare feet in dun Crocs, and beatific smile. I most certainly was.

One woman I saw reminded me of a charming story I should tell. During my talk at the Illinois Library Association, I blurted out a tale of my childhood. Long ago, I fell in love with the Marsoobian twins, Nina and Lisa. They were beautiful, with their long, glossy black hair, their olive skin, their dark and flashing eyes, their fascinatingly accented voices. My relationship with these Armenian beauties was, I admitted, complicated, and I said no more.

After my talk, I was wandering through the exhibits and a small, dark woman approached me. She was Armenian, and had married a Frenchman, now deceased. She said nice things about my talk, but said that mostly she had been deeply touched to hear the unexpected story of a Frenchman whose heart had been captured by Armenian beauties.

I was in 6th grade at the time. Nina and Lisa were fraternal twins. Mostly, they kept asking me to choose between them. Finally, I did. And at that moment, both of them completely lost interest in me. My choice was about the contest between them, not about me at all. The cruelty of Armenian women!

I remarked to the Illinois librarian that Nina and Lisa's father had looked upon me, so long ago, with a cold and appraising eye. Yes, she said, this is the visage of the Armenian poppa.

And she gave me the heartbreaking smile of Armenian beauties. Oh bless and curse them!

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