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reading tiger

T-Shirt Tales

Lori is wearing her Melville House t-shirt with "I Would Prefer Not To" emblazoned upon it. She enters the schoolyard.

C's Mom: I like your t-shirt.

Lori: Thanks!

C's Mom: Bartleby the Scrivener. Nice.

Lori: Extra points for knowing the source.

C's Mom: Of course I know it! It's my favorite story ever. Like, ever. It's so good. I love it. I love Melville.

Lori: [suddenly has a parent-crush on C's Mom][insert heart-eyed emoticon here]


Lori has taken the children to the Tea Shop on the Mills College campus.

Random Older Guy: I like your t-shirt.

Lori: Thanks!

ROG: Bartleby the Scrivener. Great story.

Lori: It's one of my favorites.

ROG: Some people say it's the greatest American short story ever written.

Lori: [sincerely] Really? I didn't know that.

ROG: Yes. I had an instructor once who said that choosing the Great American Novel is contentious, but choosing the Great American Short Story, no contest.


Seriously, folks, I didn't know there was quite such a Bartleby fan club out there. Huh.


Oh man, I use that line at work a lot. Your t-shirt gets two thumbs up from me.
In 1978, when I was in Phoenix working on the worldcon, there was a waiter in the overnight shift at Denny's who we all called Bartleby the waiter because there was once a cockroach on the wall, and when we asked him if he would remove it, he said, "I would prefer not to."

Rather horribly, we went back to that Denny's, because it had fewer visible cockroaches than our own kitchen.