Thoroughly greased from our Perkins indulgences, Takeshi and I stand up at the same time as the nosy woman across from us. She butts in, "My granddaughter and I were playing a game guessing who people were and what they do," She paused and looked Takeshi over. "You must be college students," she grinned, anticipating a small victory.
Trying to be friendly with her underestimation, I corrected, "Actually, he's a professor."
Embarrassed, but not deterred, she stammered, "Well, you look so young, I mean, I thought you were probably a student, but please forgive me. You must be very smart. You know, I'm married to a recently-retired professor…" She continued rambling about Takeshi and her husband as we clogged the pressurized artery of Sunday morning Perkins. Much to my chagrin, the next phrase I remember was, "And he'll make such a nice husband for you," she said with an unnecessary wink. I thought of my Women's Studies classes, my liberal views on gender roles, and my general disdain for people who can think of nothing better for me to do. "Professors make great husbands." She had no interest in what my life plans were, what I was studying, or even in my relationship with Takeshi. Once we finally made it to the cashier, Takeshi had to explain his whole career and life goals to this obnoxious woman as I stood there, happy wife. "Keep a hold of this one, he's a good catch," she advised me with another wink as we parted ways.
This conversation was archetypal of the rural Nebraskan patriarchy which I have been fighting since arriving at UNK. The traditional gender role assignments to which I have unfairly pinned all Nebraskans, are often pushed onto me as though I'm in school for no reason other than meeting a nice husband. I'd rather die. It's as if by saying (or not saying) those things to me, that woman was exposing a dark secret.