He's "a cross between Don Rickles and the Library of Congress" and one of the hottest dinner guests in town.
Imagine you're sitting at the reference desk. It's been a slow Thursday evening. In the last few minutes you directed a couple of students to the World Almanac for the GNP of Greece. You're reading up on a couple of new CD-ROM products, and thinking about the staff meeting at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.
Suddenly a guy dressed in jeans, a Primo Beer T-shirt, and scuffed tennis shoes is standing in front of you. He wants to know if one billion Chinese got up on chairs and jumped off at the same time, would the earth be thrown out of orbit? You make him repeat his question to be sure that you heard him right. There is no hint of a smile on his face, and in his eyes, only a look of intense desperation. He's finally made it to the library. You are his last hope. You don't have the foggiest idea what he is talking about, much less where to get an answer. Who ya gonna call? Adams, of course!
Cecil Adams, self-proclaimed omniscient and "world's smartest human being," is also possibly the world's greatest reference librarian. When asked if he ever wanted to be a librarian or go to library school, Cecil answered "Good Lord, no!" Yet his mother was reputed to be a school librarian in Chicago, and ever since he was a little tyke his insatiable curiosity wrestled with some of the century's great questions; questions such as, "How can anyone really like opera?" and "Why is everybody so much dumber than me?" Obviously, similar questions propel most librarians to become who, and what, they are.
Cecil is the author of the column entitled "The Straight Dope," which currently graces the pages of two-dozen "alternative" newspapers in the U.S., reaching 1.5 million people weekly. "Is there something you need to get straight?" the final …