Summer Reading Horror Stories: A religious experience

And the hits just keep on coming, kids. Every time I think I’m out of Summer Reading Horror stories, one of you fine readers pops up with a brand new story. My current story isn’t so interesting: It’s really hot in NY, and my workroom’s A/C has gone to the great appliance store in the sky. It smells like a hot misery-flavored foot farm in here.

Oh, and of course, it is very, very busy up in this joint. I am a sweaty, sticky, over-heated, and very tired librarian. But enough about how fabulous I am. Here’s a submission from Matt:

This GIF can see into your soul. It knows your secrets.

☢ You asked if anyone thought they could top your latest Summer Reading Tale of Woe.

Sadly, I think I can.

 Our story begins in the summer of 2007.  There was a woman I worked with who we’ll call Brenda. Brenda was the sort of person who tried to tie her name to other people’s successes while doing as little work as possible.  We were both employed at the same branch of a large library system, up until she was transferred to fill a Teen Librarian position at the city’s new Youth Media Lab.  
The lab was meant to give area teens a place to create their own digital art and movies.   As part of the push to promote the lab, Brenda got the library involved with the Script Frenzy writing challenge and created a separate screenplay writing contest.  The winning script would be produced and filmed by the library as the first video project for the new lab.
Brenda asked me to serve as one of the judges for the contest.  For all I know I may have been the only judge, as Brenda never answered me when I asked who the other judges were, if the judges would be conferring directly or through e-mail and what kind of point system we’d be using for grading the scripts.  It proved to be a moot point as – thanks to Brenda’s bungling of the promotions for the event – only one script was turned in.  At least, I only saw one script.  And it was less of a script and more of a plot summary for some teenage girl’s Twilight-inspired fan-fiction.
With only the one “script”, I declared it the winner and thought my role was done.  Indeed, it was just beginning.   Because Brenda had decided that I was the perfect person – having actual acting and directing experience she didn’t – to oversee the filming of the script.  I said I’d be happy to help (I wasn’t, but was afraid I’d look like I was being insubordinate by turning the offer down) but pointed out that, as it stood, we did not have a working script.
In point of fact, we DID have a script.  Because a teenage girl from Brenda’s church gave a script to her after the deadline for the contest.  A script Brenda had declared the official winner despite my never having read it.   A script that had many problems – chief among them being that the whole scene was a commercial for their particular brand of religion set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, with the main character being a new savior come to save the souls of the world. 
After trying and failing to convince my supervisor that this project violated every single rule about neutrality in the library, it was suggested that maybe I could use my position as director to make the whole thing more spiritual than religious and eliminate all the specific references to one religion.  I agreed to do my best.   I sent out casting notices to all the local children’s theaters and theater groups I knew of, advertising our all-day open auditions on a Saturday in late July.
The scene called for two actors – an older African American man, whose description pretty much screamed Morgan Freeman and a 13 year old Hispanic boy as The Savior.   In the whole of the nine hours I sat in the audition room, I only had two people come in to read for a part.  They were both Caucasian teenage girls.

On the bright side, the day wasn’t a complete waste.  It was the same day Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out.  So technically, I got to spend a good portion of that day being paid to sit and read the final Harry Potter book while waiting for actors who weren’t coming.

And so it was that I had to rewrite the script – both to remove all the heavy religious references and to change the characters to reflect the cast I had.  Thankfully, the author got wind of what I was doing and revoked permission for us to produce her script.  By that point, I had finally convinced my supervisor of Brenda’s intentions/ incompetence and they agreed that in the future, should Brenda request my help for anything  I would be “far too essential” to be let go.
I, for one, am sad that film never got made. It sounds like it was serving some real Kirk Cameron Left Behind-realness.
Do your Summer Reading experiences make this story look like no big deal? I want to know all about it. Your sadness makes me feel better about my dumb life.
~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

2 thoughts on “Summer Reading Horror Stories: A religious experience

  1. I had a summer performer a few years ago start out her storytelling program by producing a zither? and singing Jesus Loves Me. I just sort of froze and watched in bewildered shock as she encouraged parents and kids to sing along. Fortunately, we are a small library in a conservative town and nobody really cared, plus the performer was hired by the consortium and not by me directly. But now we have committees that hire the summer performers – and said summer performers do NOT include storytellers if I have anything to say about it (asides from this incident, nobody comes to storytellers in our town – which is probably why the lady lost her professionalism, b/c she was facing a sad, small group and couldn’t decide what to do with them. Or something.)

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