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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Sept. 8, 1999)
Sex, lies & eggplant
Dinner conversation interprets placement of desire
I say this is anyone’s story. But for
the sake of characters, it’s about Beth,
who is someone, I, who am everyone,
and it took place here, at Crane River,
rested in the Heartland of a nation.
As we drink red wine to clear our
thoughts, Beth tells me the problems
she has with her relationships.
She tells me she was neglected by
one for whom she cared. She said she
was left alone. She said her feelings
weren’t cared for. '
Her partner said Beth didn’t clean
the sink. Beth said clean bathrooms
shouldn’t matter. I am sure it went
deeper than that. I wonder who is right.
But I nod to comfort Beth. I know she
4 She excuses herself to go to the
bathroom and as she leaves, my eyes
follow her. I think I want to be a part of
her relationships. I tell myself I can
have her. I let myself believe this.
Beth comes back from the bath
room, and I ask her how her trip was
and she asks me, “Trip to where?” I tell
her the bathroom and, as she looks at
me confused, she says it was a good
I tell her I am glad she had a good
bathroom experience and that since we
spend two years of our lives in bath
rooms, we should really make the most
of every trip.
She agrees. People really should
talk about bathrooms more often ... It
makes them human. Beth is human. I
am human. We are human, I swear.
She is now sitting down. I am
resuming the hearing of the truth of her
life according to her. A now-neglected
soul... but her ex-lover was so good
looking. Things had been going along
. Some bumps that look like only
foothills really are mountains. She ran
into one of those.
I tell her I feel her pain. I do.
Women have treated me the same jyay
they have treated Beth.
I want to comfort Beth as I would
any other friend who was going
through her experiences. But I feel
other things as well. I cannot separate
Beth from other women in my mind ...
at least from women I have desired.
She is beautiful. Other men in the
restaurant stare at us. They want her for
lust, she wants me for a friend. I want
her for both.
The waitress brings us our meal.
Crane River may be the only place in
Lincoln that has decent vegetarian
food, and we have a meal of eggplant.
Beth is a vegetarian, though I am not.
I will kill the cow and eat it the next
day. I once owned a black leather
trench coat with gloves to match. *
When around vegetarians, I am
compelled to eat vegetarian food. I will
take tofu with asparagus if it will get
me some place else. I am not going any
place tonight, I know.
Beth’s food is mashed up within
moments. Beans and eggplant com
bine, and the once colorful food that
came, orange swirl and strawberry gar
nishes with flecks of parsley, is now a
brown mess. a
We pay $ 10 a plate for food based
on its presentation. But what once was
beautiful now is chaos. I try to convey
the point to Beth. Her food is a
metaphor for her
life. Why not? We
laugh out loud.
We eat our food,
and Beth asks me
where all the good
women have gone.
She tells me the
women she has met
are all self-centered,
and they can’t make
up their minds on
anything. She wants
to know why she
can’t find a nice, hot
The wine I have
had has allowed me
to let my guard
down, and I become,
careless with my
words. I tell Beth she needs to face it,
that she is hot and intimidating.
I tell her I understand her concerns,
but let’s face it: all the other hot girls in
Lincoln are screwing frat boys. She
tells me hot women should screw hot
women. I tell her most men in this
world would agree with her.
“That’s what all my male friends
say... ‘Hey, I don’t need to join in, but
can’t I just watch?’ Hell no, you can’t
watch! God why don’t they get it? We
don’t want men there at all... It’s not
that I don’t like guys, I even look at
some and say ‘yeah, he’s all right,’ It’s
just that... I couldn’t fall in love with a
I could not fall in love with a guy
either, but I am glad there are those
who can. I fell in love with one woman.
I know why people fall in love with
So what if Beth wants the same?
Who says she can’t? Why does she
have to love someone with a penis? She
doesn’t like penises.
I tell her my thoughts. I tell her
things that I think will comfort her. I
don’t know why I am giving advice to a
lesbiap. I don’t know what it is that I
In the novel “The Passion,”
Jannette Winterson wrote: “trust me I
am telling you stories.” As I talk with
Beth, I wonder if I am telling lies. But I
think she is comfortable with me, per
haps comfort is what she needs.
I cannot help thinking she is beauti
ful. I cannot help having a side of me
that wants her. These are the things I
hide, the things I lie about. Is truth nec
essary if it kills friendships?
The waitress walks by and hands us
our bill. Both of our eyes follow the
waitress as she leaves. We discuss our
opinions. Beth is a sucker for her
' auburn hair. I am in for the legs. We are
in competition. Beth pays. She says she
owes me this one. For listening.
We get up from our table and head
on to see the rest of the night. We will
meet more people and talk about where
we are from, whom we know and the
shows we have seen. We will talk of
- remember when,
that was great
and thus the story will go on.
As we walk out, I take one more
notice of her, but with the knowledge
that though my desires may be, for the
time, real, her desires for me never will
be ... they can’t. .
TREVOR JOHNSON is a junior secondary education and English major and a Daily Nebraskan columnist
A little respect
Runaway father leaves family with emotional scars /■
You can see all 44 long years of her
life in her old, brown eyes. Her hair is
thin and frizzy from too many cheap
perms and the stress of being a single
Raising two children alone has
taken its toll on her body and her life.
She’s sitting in her old chair, grading
her third-grade students’ math assign
“Why can’t they understand simple
multiplication?” she yells.
“Another batch of geniuses, huh
Mom?” I say as I walk in the room.
v She sighs as her red pen empties its
ink in systematic checkmarks. Every
time I see her grading papers, I think of
when I was a child. And when I see
how she looks now, I can only think of
what I didn’t have growing up.
I had been thinking about talking to
her about it for a long time. I knew it
was time to fmd out about my past.
“Mom, tell me about what hap
pened,” I say.
“What -do you mean?”
“I’m talking about my dad.”
Her face turns a bit pale, and she
stares off blankly. She pauses for a
moment and kind of regains her com
“What do you want to know?”
* * * * * *
I never really wanted a dad. Not
when my friends would go to Royals
games and talk baseball with then
fathers. Not when I missed the
father/son prayer breakfast every single
year. Not even when my face was a
bloody mess because I had to learn
how to shave by myself.
I came to terms with the fact that I
wasn’t blessed with a “normal” family.
And I was independent, so I4idn’t need
to cry about my misfortune.
“He left when you were 10 days
old,” she says, “and I haven’t seen him
Her tone is bitter, not because she
wanted him to stay for her, but because
she wanted him to stay for me.
“Do you wish anything would have
happened differently?” I ask, knowing
exactly the first thing she would say.
“Well, the money comes to mind,”
Her eyes fill with that look you get
when you think about winning the lot
tery. And that’s about what 20 years
worth of child support would equal.
Coupled with the huge college loans he
left in her name, she was forced to deal
with quite a financial burden.
Working two jobs for 10 years did
n’t faze her at all, but knowing that I
grew up with less than I should have
just killed her.
She wished I could have had a bet
ter haircut than the one she gave me
every month courtesy of the electric
clippers. She wished I could have worn
clothes that weren’t from neighborhood
garage sales. She wished I could have
been called something other than “dirty
kid” by my rich friends. She just want
ed better for me.
“Why don’t you call him?” she asks
me, “You could probably even go visit
Ever since she discovered his
whereabouts, she’s been nagging me to
go see him. She’s hoping that he’ll buy
me a brand new car or something.
But I was never really interested in
finding out about him. And I’m a ciffi
ous person; it’s just that I’ve never even
thought about finding out what hap
pened until now.
“Mom, you know I have no desire
to go to see him whatsoever,” I reply.
“It’s you that wants to see him, not me.”
She knows I’m right, but I always
thought she wanted to see him just to
get a big check or make him talk to her
“What do you want from him, any
way?” I ask sarcastically, “What in the
world can he give you now that he
never did before?”
And suddenly I know she’s going to
let me see some emotion she’s never
shown anyone before. Her water-filled
eyes tell me it isn’t going to be the stan
dard money-hungry, I-got-stuck-with
“Respect would be nice,” she says
solemnly, “Just some respect.”
£~ Not wanting to reveal any more,
she gets up and quickly leaves the
At this moment, and for the first
time in my life, I want a dad. I want my
mom to have a husband. Someone to
support her and encourage her in every
way, as God intended it.
Seeing the look on my mom’s face
just broke me.
I think about the thousands of dads
who leave their families each year.
And the kids who grow up without
fathers. They complain that they could
n’t be in Boy Scouts or never lpamed to
throw a spiral. They become dependent
on drugs and say it’s because they had
notiiing to depend on growing up. They
commit heinous crimes and blame it on
not having a dad.
But what about the moms who
watch their children grow up without
dads by their sides? They rush kids
around to practices^between jobs. They
go without new clothes so the kids can
wear the latest brands. They have to try
to raise moral, responsible children in
this crazy world by themselves. It’s an
Sometimes I try to get angry at my
own dad, to get turning mad like the
talk show guests who grew up without
fathers. But I can’t. Sure I’m upset with
him for leaving, but I’m frustrated
because every day, men across the
countiy leave their wives and families
for selfish reasons.
They have affairs and run off with
' They can’t pay the bills and move
to other states. Most of them don’t even
bother to marry their lovers, they just
leave pregnant, unwed mothers to fend
These “deadbeat dads” make me
ashamed to be a man. And they make
me respect single mothers all the more.
I can’t remember the last time I told
my mom I love her, but I know how to
tell her now. I can call my dad and ask
him for one favor. Something that all
dads need to give their wives and
something that could ease a little of my
A little respect.
J.J. HARDER is a Senior political science and broadcasting major and a Daily Nebraskan columnist
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