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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 10, 2000)
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And two smoking barrels
Experiences with guns make more difference than actual gun laws
Guns and I have a long, storied his
tory. We aren’t friends per se, but we’re
not enemies. Mostly, our encounters
have been a series of disappointments
for each side.
I have shot a gun three times in my
life. It didn’t work out
The moment came in Grand Island,
a world of infinite possibilities, where
we had neighbors that my ma best
• described as “neighborhood snoops.”
“They spend all day over there just
lookin’ at us out their window,” she
said, “just peekin’ through the curtain.”
Of course, my parents do the same
thing in our Omaha house now. In fact,
they did back then, too — especially
when the retired Green Beret across
the street would sit on his front porch
with his son under a pink blanket.
(Another story, another time.)
Anyway, these snoops, whose
names I don’t remember (I’m not sure
I ever knew), took my dad and me out
to the shooting range one day.
My dad is a hunter. Apparently he’s
a good shot, but all the times I went
hunting with him, he never hit any
The same applies to my oldest
brother, who is also apparently a good
shot. He prefers to stake out barren
hunting lands in northern Nebraska
and slo&through thick weeds for three
hours before giving up and settling
down to the main attraction of the trip:
breakfast at a truck stop.
At the range, I took three'tries at
shooting a gun, aiming with a rifle at a
target far, far away.
“Nope,” said Old Man Snoop.
“Huh-uh,” Snoop said again.
And my dad had to step in.
“What are you doing here? Lemme
show you,” he said.
My dad is one of those people who
cannot watch anyone do anything for
very long, even if he or she is doing it
correctly. He perches like a hawk over
me when I’m mowing the lawn, lest I
screw up his fairway-quality grass.
It goes the same for just about
everything else, except maybe egg fry
ing, where his “Louisiana-style” tech
nique of scrambled eggs (this is where
the eggs cackle and bum in old bacon
grease) goes over well with no one.
So he shows me the right way. But
I still screw it up completely.
“Do you even know how to hold
the goddamn thing?” my dad asked.
Call me crazy, but I enjoyed play
ing football, not sneaking my father’s
gun out of the locker and practicing for
- the big turkey shoot. How the hell
would I know how to hold it?
So I’ve never shot again.
My first telemarketing job required
me to sell memberships to the National
Trust me: Not that many people
were keen on buying a membership. It
cost $25 at the time, and for that you
didn’t get a whole lot unless you got
shot or your gun got stolen. Outside of
that, your only prize was a magazine
full of guns.
The first couple of days did not go
well for anyone in our training group.
“Don’t wooorrry,” our 18-year-old
supervisor told us. “This is the hardest
thing to sell in the company.”
So it makes complete sense that the
least-skilled people were selling it.
I don’t take to pointless failure
well, so after awhile, I decided I would
sell NRA memberships as if my life
depended on it.
Those 20 or so people who signed
up under my watch must have thought
they were getting a deal of a lifetime.
First of all, I lowered the price by
10 bucks. Then I made my own tai
lored list of phony benefits: a thousand
acres of free hunting land, free hotels,
free moving expenses, free food, a
truckload of coupons and a whole set
of Charlton Heston pictures, including
the classic “Soylent Green.”
But one poor soul must have
believed he received the call of a life
“I’d love to sign up, but I’m going
through a divorce right now, buddy,”
the old man said. “My ex is takin’ a
chunk outta me.”
No worries, I told him. The NRA
will provide you with a lawyer, free of
charge, I said. I scored again.
Eventually, the gig was up, and I
“Your presentation was really, real
ty goooood, your rebuttal toooo,” my
supervisor told me with smoke breath.
“But youuuu can’t make stuff up in this
There are kids in high school who
try and play hard. For this, I will never
forget A. J.
A.J. was a kid in my health class,
who sorta fashioned himself a hunk. A
tough guy, to boot, plus a Casanova.
Once, in junior high, he bought sOme
girl a flashy gold necklace, which she
proceeded to toss down the hall in a
fervent rage screaming, “I don’t want
this shit! Leave me alone!”
Silly girl, throwin’ away the jewels
On this high school day, A. J. was
wearing a No Fear T-shirt, which was
pretty popular in those days. And
another kid in the class, Nick, decided
to sneer at this shirt.
Nick was a talented sneer artist. I
think it has something to do with hav
ing a really small head.
“So you really have ‘No Fear,’
huh?” Nick said in full sneer effect, his
little face all scrunched up in a
“Yeah.” A.J. had a large head
and therefore could not provide a
sneer in response.
“Even if a gun was pointed at
your head right now,” Nick said,
making a gun with his hands.
“I have had a gun pointed
right at my head,” A.J. __
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes you are, asshole.”
“No, it really did happen.”
“So what’d you do to get a
gun pointed at you?”
“Some people were messing
with my mends.
“And you all
have guns, huh?”
“What kind of
gun is it?”
I went to a gun
show not too far
back for a story. I
had never been to a
gun show. I will
never go again.
I have nothing
against guns. 1 wish
they didn’t exist, but
it’s a foolish wish, I know, and point
less* too, because our society would
never agree to something like that.
We are a nation founded by, for and
of guns. The Old West was defined by
them. Our movies are inundated with
them. And sometimes, it amazes me
that Republicans battle away at vio
lence in the movies when movies only
mirror today’s society. If there were no
guns, there would be no movie gun
But the situation cannot be true in
Believing that, the gun show did
surprise me. I didn’t find the lunatics I
expected to, which was just my own
prejudice at work to begin with. There
were a lot of husbands and wives buy
ing together—another thing that sur
And there were childre, plenty of
them, too. One boy, directly outside the
gun show, fingered his father’s leg hol
ster, which carried a black handgun
whose caliber was unknown to me.
The boy looked up.
“Can I see it?” he asked.
His father unholstered the gun and
gave it to him.
The boy wasn’t much older than I
was when I missed those three shots
and disappointed my father. My dad
tried not to show it, but he couldn’t
hide it well enough for his son not to
And if I had been a good shot on
that day, maybe I’d be in the NRA, and
maybe I’d have bragged like A.J. to
someone else, too. Lord knows, I’ve
lied about things in my life.
But sons don’t often do what their
fathers can’t be proud of.
And guns didn’t want me.
So, in turn, I never wanted them.
And there’s more truth in that for
me than any gun law that ever existed.
oamuei mcKeivon ts a junior political science major and tbe Daily Nebraskan sports editor.
It’s not just true love
The Vagina Monologues ’give new meaning to Valentine s Day
There are times when we get lucky,
and we stumble across an idea, an idea
that seems obvious and long overdue,
an idea sparking other ideas, lighting a
fire for new thought. Eve Ensler had an
idea about vaginas.
So she talked to women about their
“I was worried about vaginas. I was
worried about what we think about
vaginas and even more worried that we
don’t think about than. So I decided to
talk to women about their vaginas, to
do vagina interviews, which becakne
vagina monologues,’’wrote Eve Ensler,
author and activist, in the book version
of her play.
The critically acclaimed play “The
Vagina Monologues” transpired out of
these talks. It’s a series of individual
monologues, all dealing with the vagi
“The Vagina Monologues” uses
the female organ as a front to voice a
concern. It says what many women
have been afraid to say, forcing the
public to hear what it doesn’t want to
hear. The monologues are nothing if
“It sounds like an infection, at best
maybe a medical instrument, ‘Hurry
up bring me the vagina.’ It never
sounds like a word you want to say. Say
you use it during sex trying to be politi
cally correct. ‘Darling, would you
stroke my vagina?’ No, you’ve killed it
right there,’’one woman’s story reads in
“The Vagina Monologues.”
By forcing the word vagina to the
forefront, the play uses its lack of tact
to bring up any and every issue that
deals with female sexuality. As the title
list shows, the monologues cover geni
tal mutilation, self-discovery and even
vagina smell. Titles include:
“Vagina fact: genital mutilation.”
“What does your vagina smell
“I asked a six-year-old girl.”
“The women who loved to make
All that comes together to create a
show described by New York Times
reviewer Anita Gates as “alternately
hilarious and deeply disturbing.”
Beyond forcing the public to deal with
the word “vagina,” die show has
become a hallmark for women’s
activists. Since its first run in 1997, it
has sparked V-Day and the college ini
tiative, which is a national movement
that started in 1998.
V-Day, which initially stood for
Valentine’s Day is celebrated by the
college initiative, a nationwide, pro
women collegiate movements that cel
ebrates in February. It promotes
women’s awareness of women’s sexu
ality and consequently has a reading of
“The Vagina Monologues.”
In 1999,65 colleges participated in
this. Sadly, the University of Nebraska
was not one of those.
This year, Nebraska has joined
with more than 120 other campuses,
which include Creighton, Kansas
State, Harvard, Yale and Colorado
The Women’s Studies Association
is presenting the play at the Seventh
Street Loft this Sunday at 2 p.m. and
Monday at 7:30 p.m.
“The Vagina Monologue’s” cast
will include faculty, students and also
members of various businesses and
Keri Wayne, who is in charge of the
Nebraska branch of the college initia
tive, called the work “a masterpiece.”
She said the piece “is about society
' \' • ■ I ■?. f'- i- k . ;
coming to accept women’s sexuality
and the woman’s vagina as part of the
She also said, “Surprisingly, the
show has been pretty well supported.”
However, the show has done little
advertising so far. At Colorado State
and Brown universities, banners sup
porting the show have been tom down,
because many detractors of this show
think it is too vulgar.
But calling the show vulgar is
arguing with real life because all of the
dialogue comes from real women.
Eve Ensler had an idea to spread
the word about women’s sexuality, and
consequently, about women’s vaginas.
While her message is brutally harsh, it
is also endearingly funny and unques
If your looking for a new way to
express love this Valentine^ Day, then
give love to all women, and maybe
yourself as well. Go see “The Vagina
1 revor Johnson is a Junior secondary education and English major and a Daily Nebraskan columnist /
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