The nun, a petite, grey-haired woman, came up to the circulation desk and handed me a video. It was “Streisand: The Concert.”
“I have a little problem,” she said. “I purchased this video for our convent at your library last week.”
Our patrons often donate used videos to the library. We no longer include videos in our collection, so we put them out for sale.
“I paid a dollar for this,” she said.
“And it didn’t work?”
“It worked just fine,” she said dryly. “That’s the problem.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Once a week, my convent screens a movie for all the sisters. It’s my job to select the films. We’ve gotten some great movies from your sale table. Many of the sisters are Streisand fans. So when I saw this, I thought I’d picked a winner.”
“A lot of people like Streisand,” I said noncommittally. I still didn’t know where this was going.
“We all gathered in the convent library. I inserted the video and pressed play. And —-“ she leaned forward and lowered her voice, “the screen filled up with naked people!”
“We’re all sitting there, watching these naked men and women cavorting around on screen, doing…. well, doing some very surprising things. Sister Mary Kate finally asked, ’When’s the singing going to start?’ Which is when I grabbed that video right out of the player and took a good look at it. On the label it said ‘Swedish Erotica!’”
“I’m very sorry, Sister,“ I said.
I knew what must have happened. Somebody had taken their porn film out of its original box and hidden it in what they thought was a safe place. What could be more innocuous than a Streisand concert? Somehow that very special “Streisand concert” ended up being donated to our library, probably by a family member who was doing a little spring cleaning.
“I’d like my dollar back, please,” said the nun.
Although library policy is to sell videos “as is” and not issue refunds, I handed that dollar right over. Along with a sincere apology. “Please choose another video for your convent’s library, free of charge,” I told her. “In fact, please take several.”
“Thank you,” she said. “I believe I will.” She headed off to our sale table, an acquisitive gleam in her eye.
From time to time, the image of that room full of nuns watching Swedish erotica pops into my head. And, God help me, it always makes me smile.