les reniflements

by jemma margaret

On the list of loud noises in quiet spaces, sniffling in a library ranks way up there.

I had a mortifying experience a few months back at the Bibliothèque de l’Histoire de la Ville de Paris where a man across the desk angrily offered me a tissue. Ever since then I have carefully stuffed all my pockets with toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, receipts, really anything remotely absorbent. However, since these assorted paper products are almost always half-used there was nothing I could do to help or shame the woman across from me at the Bibliothèque nationale de France today who was not only in need of a nose blow, but was also sneezing (it’s like a very mild version of The Name of the Rose, where instead of dying you will just come down with a head cold).

Then the woman next to me began flipping pages rapidly. And this loud swat swat swat was nothing compared to a man a few tables away who fell off his chair.

People rushed over and helped him up. He seemed to be okay, and I wonder if perhaps he had fallen asleep. A nearly impossible feat with all that ruckus!