Margaret Prezioso-Frye is single mother of two children who moved to Columbia is 1987. She often writes poems and short stories and shares them with the Columbia Missourian.
I began undergraduate studies at MU when I was beginning my 40s. As a single mom I wanted my kids to relate to the fact I had homework, and because it was going to be a step that would change our financial world, I hoped it would unite us in what we shared, well, in what we were going to share anyway. All these thoughts and I began Winter semester 1996.
I'd decided to be a full time student, sink my teeth into my studies and graduate within the normal timeframe rather than take a class or two once in a while, keep working full time and drag graduation day out very possibly passed the year 2525 making me the world's oldest graduate. Needless to say being 20 to 25 years older than the average Freshman, my perspective was an alternative universe from what was going on around me. I watched students adjust to being away from home for the first time, become seasoned professionals at it with each passing year, and then there was the way I knew stuff as a 40-something-year-old who'd been a medical professional practiced in observation that your life as my patient depended on. Combining all that with my dual major in Philosophy and Classics/Latin, a sense of humor based in a delight of life and a 21 the perfect age youthful outlook, I came up with a modern-day mythological tale that hasn't changed since the inception of Adam and Eve.
20th Century Mythology - Woman Still The Root Of Evil
One beautiful, lightly breezy, 70˚ sunny day, a woman was sitting on a bench in a shady area of the quad on campus reading quietly to herself. She didn’t get the time to read as often as she liked and was so absorbed in her book, she didn’t notice a tall, handsome man walking by her. He did notice her and thought to himself, “I’d like her to be my special friend.” He kept on walking but his thoughts were now about how to win her over. In the meantime another handsome man happened by, noticed the woman and decided, on the spot, she would be his special friend. Instead of continuing on past her he lifted her off the bench and carried her over his shoulder.
The woman was startled from her reading and while clutching the book tightly so she wouldn’t drop it, asked the man why he was carrying her over his shoulder. He started explaining to her how good life would be and how happy she would be as his special friend while he kept walking. The first handsome man came back to begin the process of winning the woman over to be his special friend, he had come up with a really good plan, and noticed she was gone. Before these two men had happened by, earlier, another handsome man had noticed the woman, she was so into her book she didn’t see him at all, and went off to get some gifts he thought would help win the woman over, but on his way back noticed the second handsome man pick up the woman and carry her off. This made him angry because he really wanted the woman for his special friend. He dropped the gifts, ran after the second handsome man, knocked him down, caught the woman who was holding her book tight so she wouldn’t lose her place, put her over his shoulder and started walking very quickly down the street just outside of campus while telling the woman, who was trying to continue reading her book in spite of all that was going on, that she’d be much happier with him, although he didn’t know the man he’d just knocked down at all.
The first handsome man who came back to talk to the woman to convince her she should be his special friend, saw the third man who really was the first man knock the second man down and take the woman. He thought to himself, “I saw her first!” He ran after the third man who was really the first man to take the woman away from him. He caught up with them; grabbed hold of the woman and a tug-of-war ensued while the woman just held on to her book so she wouldn’t drop it. The second handsome man had gotten up, ran toward the first and third man who was really the first man, which means the first man was really the second man and he was the third man, having a tug-of-war over the woman still holding on to her book, because he wanted the woman back to be his special friend. He started pushing the other two men out of the way, which caused them to drop the woman on the ground, but she held on to her book, didn’t drop it, and managed to land on her backside which was endowed enough not to hurt that much if something ever happened causing her to land on it. The three handsome men were so caught up in their heated argument they never noticed the woman get up off her backside to begin walking home so she could continue reading her book, which she was going to do in the first place but then had decided to go outside to read because it was such a beautiful day.
The men argued and fought a long time, and as they wore each other out finally took the time to notice the woman wasn’t there anymore. That made them calm a little and gave them time to think, which helped them to recall that during the skirmish, she’d been dropped. In fact, they were so involved in arguing they realized no one noticed if she’d landed on her endowed backside or if she had gotten hurt when she hit the ground. They walked back to the bench but couldn’t find her there or any place else on campus. They stood on the edge of campus looking down the street but they knew there was just too much ground to cover and they had exhausted themselves from bickering and fighting. All three became angered and started saying unkind things about her. They decided unanimously everything was her fault, and if she hadn’t been sitting there none of this would have happened. Women should stay inside at home and not be allowed outside where they can be seen, and when this is put into practice, these kinds of things won’t happen again. Not even saying goodbye to each other, wearing frowns they went their separate ways home.
The woman had made it safely home, changed her jeans that had grass stains on them, put on a comfy pair of sweats, started a wash, made some espresso and sat quietly in the living room sipping coffee and reading her book.
This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.