Derek Johnson Muses

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Category Archives: Dating/Relationships

Girl Across the Ocean

(Note: While the Coffee House is a real place in Lincoln, the people in this article are fictional.)

A slight movement in the corner of my eye caused me to look up from the Twitter feed I was thumbing through on my Kindle Fire. It was roughly three in the afternoon, and the Coffee House was buzzing with those who took life slow. I loved to come here and loose myself, but now my eyes darted to the girl who had just sat down at a table by the door, right across the room from me.

This was a girl who I would talk to. Her hair was dirty blonde, her figure slim. She carried a ratty denim shoulder sack as purse, out of which she removed a book I had read two years ago. She sipped warm milk off the top of her drink, and put her eyes to the book as if she were concentrating, but after two minutes she glanced up. She wore black horned-rim glasses, a purple-and-yellow knitted hat, and a faded green jacket over a white button-down shirt and faded jeans. An outfit that would have stuck out on the street, it blended her in here in the dark Coffee House.

I could have easily approached her to talk about the book, as I remembered it well. But my body flinched at the thought of saying to her,  “Hey, you know I read that when I was on this flight to Denver two years ago, and I thought it was really good.” Those thudding words would not give her any place to go with the conversation. I’d have to add, “Why did you choose to read it? What page are you? What do you think of such-and-such a character?” So many questions that could be answered so quickly, and I might overwhelm her. She may not even want to talk.

I tapped on an article in my feed and glanced back up. Not at the girl, of course, because that would be considered staring, but at the top corner of the doorway. This was a technique that I had perfected when looking at girls, glancing at a spot diagonally above her, so I could kind of look at the girl but not really be looking at her.

Okay now, I thought to myself. I have to get refocused if I’m going to talk to her. What are my answers to the questions I would ask her? I liked the book because it was so sad without being sentimental and used simple language while still being profound. I choose the book because of its bright cover and because it was on sale at the thrift store that I go to every week. My favorite character was Melvin the bumbling sidekick.

Returning my eyes to my Kindle screen, I tried to concentrate on the article. After all, reading is what people come here to do. Or did they just come here to look smart when they are reading because nobody reads any more? I had actually found that it was easier to read at home than here, which is why only read articles here anymore and not books. Should I talk to the girl about that? No, it would be presumptuous of her, that she only came here to read to look smart. Maybe she had roommates at home, and here was the only place she could go for something that resembled quite.

I glanced back the top corner of the door. She had turned another page. I should wait. Yes, wait, and let her get engrossed in the book, and then she will want to talk about it more. But if she got engrossed in the book, then she might be less amenable to taking a break from it to talk to a man she didn’t know from Adam. What should I do? Was I better off just waiting here, or should I go ahead and just try to talk to her? She seemed settled into her chair, and she had only taken two sips of her drink, so she’d likely be here a while.

But what if waiting to talk to her makes me seem like a creepy stalker? I glanced out the window, bristling at the thought. That was the last thing I wanted, to walk up to this girl in my awkward manner and have her think that I am some sort of coward, sitting over here watching her, waiting until I could work up enough courage to talk to her. How embarrassing.

What did it matter if I talked to this girl or not? I was here to get caught up on my own reading. Yes, I was interested in meeting people , but that was secondary. What did it matter if I passed on a conversation with this average girl? She looked nice, sure, but what is the guarantee that she really is just here to read her book and wouldn’t welcome conversation from a stranger?

I glanced up at the girl again and saw her to be perfect just as she was sitting there. How could I talk to her and mess that up?

Brewtopia in Bay City

The Spot…

Why Jim and Pam’s Struggles Didn’t Bother Me

When I read the criticism of Jim and Pam’s relationship, I shake my head. The Office‘s perpetual sweethearts, who moved seamlessly from crush to couple to married couple over the shows nine seasons, spent the better part of the show’s farewell season fighting over Jim’s absence, in direct contraction to their relationship over the previous 180-some episodes, where they moved on from fights in a heartbeat.

This is, America what you expect have in your relationships. Don’t be surprised when you see this generation’s Harry and Sally come close to calling it quits. It speaks to how the concept of marriage being a stable and permanent institution in our culture is long over. But I digress.

Jim and Pam Halpert just go to show how much even secularists want to believe in marriage, even when they find the institution “unrealistic.” Yes, Jim and Pam’s behavior this year has not as consistent with what they have been, but Jim undermined Pam’s engagement with Roy, and Pam proclaimed her feelings for Jim while he was in a relationship. The show has never dealt with their emotional infidelity.

And to be fair, it wasn’t just Jim and Pam fighting. One of the best episodes this season was “Junior Salesman”, that took place after the Halperts had a huge fight on the phone. Instead of just throwing Jim and Pam back into bliss after that fight, the show did something more realistic: they showed Jim trying to do the right thing for Pam on that day. When two people are having fights as big as they were, you can’t just go back to happy bliss without some work. It goes one day at time.

I’m actually glad that The Office went the way it did with Jim and Pam, and I’m not a fan off TV relationship drama for the sake of drama. Unlike the storyline with Jim being tempted with Cathy last season (oh please), this storyline was believable. And honestly, what could the show have done that would have been better?

Almost happily ever after...

Happily ever after…

A Modern Civil Divorce

Divorce Court 15 Years Ago:

Judge to divorcing couple, “What’s your reason for divorcing?”

Couple, “Irreconcilable differences. All we do is yell at each other.”

Divorce Court Today.

Judge to divorcing couple, “What’s your reason for divorcing?”

Couple, “Irreconcilable differences.”

Judge, “What, you fight all the time?”

Couple, “No, we don’t fight. We just recently had a disagreement, and it’s going to lead to a bigger fight, so we’re just getting a preemptive divorce.”

Judge, “A preemptive divorce?”

Couple, “Yes.”

Judge, “You mean, you’re not really fighting..”

Couple, “No, but we will be. You see, your honor, Joe is taking a job that is eight hours away from where we live now.”

Judge, “So, Jane, why don’t you move with your husband?”

Jane, “I have a job I love here, and our children are just starting school. I don’t want to move them and leave my job.”

Judge, “So, Joe, your wife is happy here. Why don’t you want to stay here?”

Joe, “I do want to stay here.”

Judge, “You do? So why are you taking the job if you are willing to stay here with your wife?”

Jane, “Oh judge, I can’t ask Joe to stay here.”

Judge, “Ma’am, why are you speaking for your husband?”

Jane, “Please let me finish, your honor. He would resent me because he’d be staying in the same job he has now. It’s a mid-level management job, and he can do so much better. I don’t want to stand in the way of his happiness.”

Judge, “Joe, do you currently resent your wife for standing in the way of this job?”

Joe, (Pause) “No, but I will.”

Judge, “Jane, if you acknowledge that this job is what’s best for your husband, why is the right thing to get a divorce instead of moving? Can’t you find a job in the city he’s moving too?”

Jane, “It wouldn’t be the job I have now. I’ve worked so hard for my position, and I couldn’t possibly leave it.”

Judge, “And the two of you haven’t found much over this…”

Couple, “Oh, we’ve fought, but not as much as we are going to fight. We both know what’s best in the long-term is to split up now and spare each other the emotional damage.”

Judge, “It appears that you don’t have any serious emotional damage right now. And if you have no serious emotional damage, what business do you have in my courtroom?”

A Single Stand


The Loup River, just off Highway 81

The quote from Luther is from the daily devotional Through Faith Alone, a book my uncle gave me when I was in college. The reading was for April 6, the verse 1 Thessalonians 4:4-5: “Each of you should know that finding a husband or wife for yourself is to be done in a holy and honorable way, not in the passionate, lustful way of people who don’t know God.” (God’s Word Translation. That book used it-for the record, I still recommend the ESV)

“I have known many people who, because of their crude and shameful fantasies, indulged their passion with unrestrained lust. Because of their insatiable desires, they abandoned self control, and lapsed into terrible immorality. In the end, they had to endure dreadful punishment. Blinded to the realities of married life, some of them took unsuitable mates and ended up in incompatible relationships. They got what they deserved.

“You must pray diligently and strive to resist the desires of your corrupt nature. Ask God to give you a Rebekah or Isaac instead of a Delilah or Samson-or someone even worse. Finding a devoted, loyal wife or husband isn’t a matter of good luck. It’s not the result of good judgment, as unbelievers think. Rather, a devout spouse is a gift from God.”

This passage has stuck with me for eight or nine years. “A devout spouse is a gift from God.” I have prayed for a wife since I was a teenager, and yet I’m still single. Every day I’m without someone, I feel like a little part of me dies all over again. But I still know that God has a plan for me, and I know that he will bring it to fulfillment in his time. Thanks be to Him.


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