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Old 04-13-2009, 01:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Should public libraries ban "offensive odors?"

Public libraries: Poor hygiene might get you tossed -- chicagotribune.com

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Public libraries: 'offensive bodily odors' might get you tossed   click to show 
It would be easy for me to support this ban. After all, I don't like being around smelly people. They can certainly be distracting if I'm trying to read a book. On the other hand, I see the point of the homeless advocates. Especially in the current economic downturn, I'd imagine there are more and more people who may fall into the downward spiral of homelessness and who may benefit from being allowed to stay in the library and use its services, even if they smell. On top of that, I've spent some time working at a major book store and if they can accommodate smelly homeless people - and they did, much to my occasional dismay - then so can the public library.

What do you think? Do you support the ban? Have you had any experiences with "offensive odors" and libraries, or other public locations?
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Old 04-13-2009, 01:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I have no problem with this. Sometimes people can get pretty ridiculously bad smelling. I feel bad for them and all, but it can almost make you want to puke sometimes.
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Old 04-13-2009, 02:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
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It's not only the poor hygiene, most perfumes, if too strong, give me an immediate headache, and many make me nauseous. I don't want to smell you unless you're in my personal space.
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Old 04-13-2009, 02:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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agreed cj2112. I feel sick when I smell many perfumes, and there are a few women (and men) out there that put waay too much perfume on.

As far as smelly people go, I understand the homeless thing, but I would stop going somewhere if it was constantly full of smelly people.
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Old 04-13-2009, 02:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I didn't think public libraries could afford to ban anyone anymore....

I don't like this idea mainly because it sounds like it would lead to unfair judgement calls.

"Dude, you stink."
"It's just a bit of BO--get over it, you dandy."

Especially in the summer, some people just tend to smell a bit.

If you come in reeking because you just rolled in shit, that's another story.

(Perfumes and colognes notwithstanding.)
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Old 04-13-2009, 02:52 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Baraka_Guru View Post

If you come in reeking because you just rolled in shit, that's another story.
Oddly, I confine my shit-rolling escapades to the period directly prior to my weekly public library visit.

I recognize this as largely a problem of major metro areas with substantial homeless populations. The library is a good place to chill out for a few hours or all day, particularly in bad weather. I don't know of many libraries where you simply couldn't get away from the person who smelled rank. Considering that the homeless guy is likely camped on at one table off to the side, I doubt it is really too much of a problem for the average library patron. If you had 100 malodorous people all over the library, it might drive some people away completely.

Most of my visits to the library consist of a 2 minute walk to the stacks to get the book I want, then to check out, and out the door. If there was a homeless person there, I doubt I'd even notice it.

But then the libraries around here (Kentucky) are typically attractive looking, large buildings with very, very few books inside. Seriously! It is stunning. It feels like they spent 80% of the budget on building the library and 20% on the books. It was quite the shocker when I first moved here.
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Old 04-13-2009, 03:19 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I wish they'd implement this ban for every public place. Streets included.
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Old 04-13-2009, 03:21 PM   #8 (permalink)
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i have to ask...where is "cake town?"

chicago?
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Old 04-13-2009, 03:31 PM   #9 (permalink)
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can I punch dudes who bath in Axe in the face?
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Old 04-13-2009, 03:33 PM   #10 (permalink)
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---------- Post added at 06:33 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:33 PM ----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by FuglyStick View Post
can I punch dudes who bath in Axe in the face?
Ok by me.
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Old 04-13-2009, 03:43 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by FuglyStick View Post
can I punch dudes who bath in Axe in the face?
Please.

I wish they would ban strong smelling perfumes and colognes in the classroom. I find that the combined stench of college students in my lectures is sometimes overwhelming. One girl last term smelled like rotten fruit.

But I know that's not going to happen. I don't think this ban is a good idea, either. People should be allowed access to public resources regardless of how they smell.

Maybe we should install showers at the library, eh?
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Old 04-13-2009, 03:55 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Tully Mars View Post

Ok by me.
Bwahahahaha! Look out, collar poppers, I'm coming for you!!!

---------- Post added at 06:55 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:47 PM ----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by snowy View Post

Maybe we should install showers at the library, eh?
Public baths would be awesome, in that they would do much for the morale of the homeless, and maybe give them the initiative to better themselves.

(I know the reasoning against the idea are many and very valid. There's cost, security, the fact that public baths would quickly deteriorate into dens of all kinds of vice; but still, the first step for many homeless to join society might be a bar of soap.)
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Old 04-13-2009, 03:56 PM   #13 (permalink)
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So long as they're there to utilize library resources and services then how they smell shouldn't matter in the least. If you can't study because you're too distracted by how someone smells then perhaps you should study at home. Maybe even do some research on becoming less of a selfish overprivileged asshole once you get there.

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Originally Posted by Baraka_Guru View Post
I didn't think public libraries could afford to ban anyone anymore....
Righty-o. My local libraries are like ghost towns.
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Old 04-13-2009, 04:15 PM   #14 (permalink)
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"Phew! Smells like sex in here!" That's my favorite kinda stank.

...

Yeah, I'm with the Skafe. Since he's like the urban version of me. Ya know, better looking and well dressed.

The problem with "offensive" is that it is a value statement. Axe metros, alcoholics, Vietnam vets, homeless, little old ladies, somebody that just did the dog poop boogie and failed... they all smell bad. If you're racist you can say minorities smell bad, too.

(Sidebar: I think curry is a great way to determine if a white person is racist or not)

So... is there going to be an enforcement agent that is charge of smelling patrons or what? How does level of stank hold up in court?

And what's the next stop on this crazy train? Giving out citations for sweaty pits in public... or, god... VPL?

...

Humans are really detached from being animals, aren't they? How silly. I'm going to start passing out copies of Everybody Poops again.

...

CLUE: Scarlet Wikipedia killed Professor Library in the living room with the Internet.

...

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I wish they'd implement this ban for every public place. Streets included.
...something tells me you don't smell like Vatican sheets.
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Old 04-13-2009, 04:34 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Old 04-13-2009, 04:47 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by FuglyStick View Post
can I punch dudes who bath in Axe in the face?
Before axe started their "i'm wearing axe so i'm cooler than you' nad the "double pits to chesty" bullshizzle they think is cool...it was not too offensive smelling and you could just dash it before you go. no big deal and a few smelled close to some of the higher end colognes (watersomething smelled like aqua di gio)

now..it's "holy crap, i can smell you from the car in front of me or from the other side of the stadium" bc htey are showing people SPRAAAAYING it on...

gagalicious.

So yea, i'm all for banning it

that said..i think they would have to have guidelines for whom to ban in a public library...There are SO many smells that cna be labeled 'offensive'. smoke, cologne, perfume, axe, BO, "i just had explosive diarrhea," and "I'm a hippy who wears patchouli instead of bathing"..
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Old 04-13-2009, 06:11 PM   #17 (permalink)
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This is ridiculous. Now we need to be protected from body odor? How does it go? hmmm, what was it again?....oh yes, harden the fuck up.
Once again, I throw the weight of my opinion behind Manic Skafe.
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Old 04-13-2009, 06:17 PM   #18 (permalink)
 
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i was going to type something, but manic skafe said it better than i would have.
so what he said.
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Old 04-13-2009, 11:45 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Downtown here, the homeless stroll in from the streets and they can smell pretty bad sometimes. But, I hold my breath as much as I can and try not to mind them too much because it's a PUBLIC library and homeless people need information just like anybody else. Some people are just naturally stinky and need the information provided in the library.
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Old 04-14-2009, 01:21 AM   #20 (permalink)
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'Skafe must have been a library monitor back in his day.

I have to agree with his sentiment, though. Denying someone something so basic as being able to go somewhere and read just because they don't smell "normal" in your opinion doesn't sit well with me at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crompsin
And what's the next stop on this crazy train? Giving out citations for sweaty pits in public... or, god... VPL?
VPL...good grief.
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Old 04-14-2009, 02:01 AM   #21 (permalink)
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It's not unreasonable for library staff to approach a person and tell them that there have been complaints about their odor. Unfortunately not all smelly people respond well to something like this. The mentally unstable homeless can be highly inflamatory - start screaming at you and cause a scene, which would be far more distracting to the patrons than the body odor in many cases.

A public library is for the people. Including the worst of us.
If a person is constantly there and they smell so badly that patrons are no longer frequenting your library, then that's an instance where you just need to step up. Offer the guy/gal a bar of soap and let them have a few minutes to themselves in the restroom every morning. If they take offense to your offer, they'll either throw a fit and you can call the cops, or they'll stop showing up.


A bit of a threadjack:
Quote:
Originally Posted by braisler View Post
...

But then the libraries around here (Kentucky) are typically attractive looking, large buildings with very, very few books inside. Seriously! It is stunning. It feels like they spent 80% of the budget on building the library and 20% on the books. It was quite the shocker when I first moved here.
Do your libraries participate in the interlibrary loan program? It's easy to get your hands onto nearly any obscure book you can think of through interlibrary loan.
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Old 04-14-2009, 09:58 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I was thinking along the lines of Snowy - public showers. The library is PUBLIC, and should remain that way for all of us smelly or not.

I dont like the setting of dangerous precedents.
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Old 04-14-2009, 10:01 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Old 04-14-2009, 10:09 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Since most here seem to agree on the publickness of public libraries and the rights of the smelly public, Im going off subject to inquire

SKAFE: Why are your libraries are empty? What's going on there?
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Old 04-14-2009, 10:09 AM   #25 (permalink)
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A bit of a threadjack:


Do your libraries participate in the interlibrary loan program? It's easy to get your hands onto nearly any obscure book you can think of through interlibrary loan.
Yup. It is about the only way I can get a book that I'm interested in. It is kind of a long process though. Rather than checking the catalog online and just stopping in to grab the book and go. Added to that, the library that I use has a relatively short 2 week loan period on all books. I'm no dunce, but trying to read a 500 page non-fiction book (my last was Hot, Flat, and Crowded) in an hour or so of free time a night, doesn't mesh well with a 2 week loan period.
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Old 04-14-2009, 11:05 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by girldetective View Post
Since most here seem to agree on publickness of public libraries, Im going off subject to inquire of SKAFE: Why are your libraries are empty? What's going on there?
I think it lies mostly in what cromp alluded to above, Wikipedia killed the old library system. There's no reason to deal with dewey decimals and sift through shelves of books when a google search is a hell of a lot more convenient and can lead to sources that are exactly as credible. Hell, I've never even used my campus library for anything other than killing time on the internet and snoozing between classes.

The larger central branches are much more busy but I'm convinced it's only because they offer a large selection of films and current periodicals.

And after having spent a few years working for one of the larger book chains, I can say that a lot (not most but we're still talking about a significant number) of people are unlike Braisler and would rather order their books through a bookstore, do their research or reading and return it all once they're done.
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Old 04-14-2009, 12:22 PM   #27 (permalink)
 
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Old 04-14-2009, 12:26 PM   #28 (permalink)
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I worked in a college library for a few years. Homeless patrons were not an issue until we found evidence of them living inside the library in untraveled areas. Then they had to be dealt with. My problems were with some of the other students. Sure, some of them smelled strongly but you learn to deal with that. You don't have a choice. What I detested was the nasty filth that was left behind in the library and on equipment that had been checked out. Chlorox wipes were my best co-worker.
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Old 04-14-2009, 01:04 PM   #29 (permalink)
 
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if wikipedia can cut into public library usage it points to the thinness of information that's typically available in public libraries.

i've spent way too much time in university libraries and after a while you get used to what really is an astonishing luxury if you have regular access to a good research library. and you get spoiled by that to some extent. i have trouble going to public libraries in general to research much of anything because the collections simply aren't geared around research. archival holdings, special collections--they can be quite different---but the general collections?

public libraries are such a great idea. they really are. it's a shame that they're not treated better. you'd think that if the united states were in any meaningful way a democracy that the public's access to quality information would be important.

i work these days building internet databases, so i have a pretty good idea of what kind of information you can access for serious research on-line--and there is an enormous amount--but you have to pay for it--the dominant way in the states is that you pay, but not directly, but rather through some sort of institutional affiliation.
that way an illusion of equal access can be maintained.
but if you're a regular joe without particular access to these more specialized databases and you want to research stuff, you can access some information, but it's typically not that deep. if you're in that position, the illusion's not convincing.

behind that, though, there's a pretty fundamental reorganization of how information is produced and distributed that's happening, but the directions it will take are still kind of amorphous. so looking around now, it can seem like public libraries are taking a beating, people preferring wikipedia for superficial (but useful even in its superficiality) information to it; the relation of electronic to paper texts is still not obvious; so another dimension of what's happening to public libraries is a function of this being a strange time.


anyway..i think public libraries are a hugely neglected resource. maybe in some alternate universe, this place will figure out that it makes sense to place something like comparable access on making resources available that enable cultivation of interests and capabilities that go beyond buying shit, that it is as important to develop these resources as it is to develop technological systems designed to kill people in great number with maximum efficiency.

public libraries; open access platforms for delivering information across the net--these are fundamentally democratic institutions. private, for profit mechanisms are no more efficient and have the significant disadvantage of shutting people out.

this is one of those seemingly little things that bothers me. alot.
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Old 04-14-2009, 02:03 PM   #30 (permalink)
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My local public library has a lot of great programs--free tax preparation assistance, bicycling safety lectures, GED discounts, free computer classes. I'd hate to see these things become available to those that are less-than-April-fresh. In fact, it sort of disgusts me to think that someone who is trying to better themselves through learning may be ejected for smelling.
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Old 04-14-2009, 03:07 PM   #31 (permalink)
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" Josephine, dont wash,
I'm coming home."
I learned who said that in a library.
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Old 04-14-2009, 03:21 PM   #32 (permalink)
 
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roachboy, when you say,
this seems like a little thing,
I'm assuming you mean, it is viewed as a matter of little importance,
to others than yourself.

I rely almost exclusively on information that you and others have access to.
I have no extra any dollars for the 'good 'stuff',
or any academia codes, for access.

( I miss host.)

I should address the OP...

Public library access, and its restrictions, reek.

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Old 04-28-2009, 06:15 AM   #33 (permalink)
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Should public libraries ban old books?
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Old 04-28-2009, 06:32 AM   #34 (permalink)
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I wish we could ban perfumes from the office I work in (pediatrics). Mostly for the moms. We bring them with their kids into a small room, and I'm assaulted by their perfume's scent, which makes me have a sneezing fit. Allergies much? How healthy can that be for anyone? Then they go and ask me if I'm sick, and I WISH I could say, "Yes, I am, of your flippin' smelly perfume!!"
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Old 04-28-2009, 06:58 AM   #35 (permalink)
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One of my biggest fears is smelling bad. I won't leave the house without showering unless I showered immediately before going to bed, and even then I don't like to do it (although this is more about sweat and oil than smell, I have been assured that in day-to-day life I smell find at the end of the day, and even if I just wash up in the morning instead of showering.) It's just plain rude to smell bad around other people. The bigger problem is that people habituate their own smells and either don't think they need a shower, or decide to reapply their scent throughout the day. Our non-confrontational attitude makes us think we're being courteous if we don't inform people that their smell is offensive. Be tactful, but tell someone who you're around for a while if they smell, that may be how they find out about it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuglyStick View Post
can I punch dudes who bath in Axe in the face?
As the Ayatollah, I command you to do so.
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Should public libraries ban old books?
No. Old books smell good. BO does not.
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Old 04-28-2009, 12:06 PM   #36 (permalink)
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I learned who said that in a library.
didn't give you a complex, did it?
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Old 05-09-2009, 08:55 AM   #37 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manic_Skafe View Post
So long as they're there to utilize library resources and services then how they smell shouldn't matter in the least. If you can't study because you're too distracted by how someone smells then perhaps you should study at home. Maybe even do some research on becoming less of a selfish overprivileged asshole once you get there.
I had quite a little rant building as I read through this, but Skafe hit it dead on as usual.

Even a small library is a pretty big place. I work in a small academic library and when someone comes in that stinks--either "good" or "bad"--I can always find another corner or another aisle to walk down if I should want to avoid 'em.

Who the fuck am I to think that I have the right to not be offended--for whatever stupid, insignificant reason--when going out in public? Maybe some of us would do well to untighten our asses a bit and just get along.
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Old 05-11-2009, 08:18 AM   #38 (permalink)
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The main Houston Public Library downtown was (is?--I now avoid DT Houston) a haven for homeless people. Many of them stink, as in really reek. The library instituted a policy of not allowing large bags or bundles inside the library, which was somewhat effective since many homeless people carry everything they own with them.

The biggest problem I encountered was trying to find a clean restroom. The restrooms on the first two floors were usually filthy, with dirty water on the counters and floor, and no paper towels. My guess is the homeless were using the restrooms to bath. When I needed to go and didn't want to be disgusted, I would go to the restrooms on the fifth floor.

Even with the problems caused by the transients, public libraries should be open to the public, regardless of personal hygiene.
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Old 05-14-2009, 06:40 AM   #39 (permalink)
We work alone
 
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Location: Cake Town
Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle phil View Post
i have to ask...where is "cake town?"

chicago?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Crompsin View Post
...something tells me you don't smell like Vatican sheets.
But sweetie, you don't know me at all. I smell better than Vatican sheets any day of the week.
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Maturity is knowing you were an idiot in the past. Wisdom is knowing that you'll be an idiot in the future. Common sense is knowing that you should try not to be an idiot now. - J. Jacques

Last edited by LoganSnake; 05-14-2009 at 06:45 AM..
LoganSnake is offline  
Old 05-14-2009, 08:19 AM   #40 (permalink)
Junkie
 
My town is great. The public libraries smell of coffee, books, dust, and sweat, and the university libraries (especially the stacks on the upper levels) smell like sex and books.

Haha.

Just make the libraries put air freshners around, what else can they do? People smell, whoop dee doo. Really, the shit people whine about these days...
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