It was during high school. Having recently acquired my driver’s license, I was learning how to navigate the streets of Baltimore, when I passed the Christian Science Reading Room, near Hopkins. It looked like a comfortable place, with plenty of big leather armchairs. How generous of Christian Scientists to give people such nice places to read. I filed it in the back of my mind: The next time I happen to be in the neighborhood with a book, I thought, I’ll certainly come here and read it.
The opportunity presented itself a few weeks later, when it suddenly became necessary for me to get out of the house (ah, adolescence!). The image of a leather armchair appeared in my mind as a place of refuge. I took up my copy of Moby Dick, got into my ’75 Buick Apollo, and made my way from the suburbs all the way to Homewood. I parallel parked on the narrow Charles Street service drive, strode into the Room, smiled at the desk assistant, climbed into one of the soft leather seats, and opened my book.
Just as I settled in, I noticed the desk assistant looking at me quizzically, and he walked over.
“I’m sorry. You can’t be here.”
“I can’t, like, read here?”
“The Reading Room is for people who want to do research.”
“But no one else is using it. Can’t I hang out with Moby Dick, until someone comes in to do research?”
“I’m sorry, no.”
And so I was evicted, after less than a minute, and stood blinking on the sidewalk.
I got kicked out of the Christian Science Reading Room for reading.