WHY YOU WOULD GO THERE: Because the town's nickname is "The Star City," and you want to see for yourself what all the hoopla is about. Because you are obsessed with Tara Lipinski memorabilia. Because your favorite sports team is playing the Cornhuskers and you want to show support. Because you are paying a visit to your old friend Jenn.
WHO YOU MIGHT MEET: Karen, who wears funky t-shirts and thinks her hair looks better dyed black. Tim, an Amish teenager who (shh!) really likes driving cars. Mark, who feels lost, now that the Christian coffee house in town was closed because they didn't pay their taxes. Friends and/or family of Brandon Teena, who lived here; "his" life story was the subject of "Boys Don't Cry."
WHERE TO STAY: If there's a reason to come to Lincoln, The Cornhusker Hotel is it. Odd name, but it's a gorgeous place. Who knew, in Nebraska?...fancy rooms, big soft beds, worthy-of-stealing-from-housekeeping toiletries, the whole thing. Rather than take the elevator from my room directly to the ground floor, I would get off on Floor 2, just to descend the giant winding staircase to the lobby and pretend I was Scarlett O’Hara. I was tempted to rip the curtains off my window and make a dress, but I got in trouble the last time I did that.
WHERE TO GO, PART I: The new hot-spot in town is a bar called Starlite Lounge, a really cute 50’s-retro-style bar that serves fabulous martinis. There is also a gay club called Q that’s hoppin on the weekends. I don't know that for a fact; I just heard that. Whatever. We didn't go to these places; instead, we stopped by a friend’s party, where I proceeded to drink too much tequila, and ended up spending the evening lounging in the lap of a really cute curly-haired med student named Matt. Matt? Or was it Mike? Greg? I don’t know, it was one syllable. But when he finishes med school next year, we’re going to get married. He told me so, right before we started to make out. Should I believe him? Great kisser, at least. More on him later.
WHERE TO GO, PART II : Everybody who is anybody in Lincoln spends quality time at the National Museum Of Roller Skating. The "museum" occupies the back room of the USA Roller Sports association offices, which is also headquartered in Lincoln--so many important things happen in Nebraska--and has neat photos of old roller rinks and roller skaters from the '50's and stuff. Just make sure you head into the back corner of the museum; walk behind the “history of the skate wheel” display, turn right at the picture of the lesbians in the roller derby, and there it is…
...the tribute to Tara Lipinski.
Apparently Miss Lipinski got her start in roller figure skating, before she pulled a Benedict Arnold and switched to the ice. The Roller Skating Museum is proud of her roots. Good job, Tara Lipinski. The display even includes a former costume she wore in competition, which is purple. Because purple is her favorite color. I know this now. I also know she lives in Sugar Land (swear to God!) Texas, and her favorite thing to read is USA Today. She's a worldly girl, that Tara Lipinski. I’m going to try to visit every June 10, as that’s her birthday, just to pay homage.
As we exited the museum, we passed a poster with the picture of a little kid shrugging his shoulders, with the caption above him reading,
It stopped us dead in our tracks. That's just deep, man, that's deep.
We stood there for a moment, pondering these words of wisdom, and we committed ourselves to studying more existentialist theories by Nietzsche. Then Jenn tried to create a distraction by asking questions about Tara Lipinski while I attempted to peel the poster off the wall and steal it. I never considered the fact that, rolled up, it would still be a 2-feet-long tube sticking out of my pants. But I almost had it when an errant secretary wandered by and I chickened out. So we bought Roller Skating Museum t-shirts instead. Cool shirts, actually. It cost $15, but I'm going to beat it up a little bit and sell it as "vintage" on Melrose. I can get $50 for it at least.
WHERE TO EAT: Thank God the citizens of India know no cultural boundaries, and will open a restaurant absolutely anywhere. Finding a restaurant suitable for my vegetarian friend Jenn--in Lincoln, Nebraska, where steak is considered breakfast—was rough, until we found The Oven (201 N. 8th St.), an Indian restaurant in the funky-meets-historic "Haymarket District." Bring on the soybean curd! Although I have no problem killing animals for my own benefit, so I ate some chicken dish. It was simmered in a sauce that tasted like expensive cream-of-tomato soup. Deeeeeeelicious.
After-dinner drinks included the best f*^%ing coffee I have ever swallowed in my LIFE, at The Coffee House, (1324 P St.) Try the "Mexican Mocha," which seems cinnamon-ish, but also so much more. I am now obsessed with finding other places that serve this drink, besides coffeehouses in the middle of Nebraska.
And FYI: apparently the cool thing to do in Lincoln is to open a business, say what is inside, stick a "The" on the front, and you're done. Note "The Oven," and "The Coffe House." Minimalist monikers are big in Lincoln. Huge. I wonder if Tara Lipinski likes Mexican Mocha?
WHEN TO GET GOOD PHONE MESSAGES: I returned to my hotel room to see my message light blinking. “Hey Dan, it’s your future husband,” said the male voice on my voice mail, the voice of the man with the curly hair and the good lips. It made my chest feel very warm. “Just calling to see how you are. I was hoping if, you’re still in town, we could talk about our wedding…or I’d prefer maybe just going to get dinner, or, I don’t know, something. Call me back.” He left his number. He didn’t leave his name. I wondered if he likes to do the hokey pokey. I hope he does. There's so much to think about now. In times like this, I like to take to heart the advice of Miss Tara Lipinski, and her favorite quote: “Always Dream.”