The line could not have been longer. I held my items tucked tightly under my arm and got on my tiptoes to get a better view of the slow transaction at the checkout ahead. I glanced over at the other two lines and tried to estimate if a move to either one would prove to be advantageous. We inched a bit forward so I decided to stay committed to Aisle 4. 

What was taking so long?! 

Did someone just say my name?! 

Why am I sweating?! 

I looked down at my items and felt like abandoning ship. I could leave them in the candy bar rack and no one would know I had plucked them from the shelves myself. The guy in front of me plopped down his six pack of Busch Light and four boxes of Hungry-Man frozen dinners. I glanced again at my items and thought I might as well be buying Nair and a box of Tampons. It was too late to turn back; I was sandwiched in the checkout line. Out of desperation, I grabbed the manliest magazine I could find to offset my purchase. It was as if I was smuggling contraband. I laid it on top of the items I actually needed and watched it progress down the conveyor belt to the cashier and waited for his reaction. This is what I came home with…

grocery store items2


grocery store face cream

grocery store emery boards closeup

grocery store mag best

I have a confession to make. I use face cream and I use an emery board. That’s right, I’m a man and I care about my skin and I file my nails. I don’t use clippers because that sound is my version of nails on a chalkboard and my nervous energy has been channeled into outlets other than nail biting. I had a lot of “manscaping” rituals that I subscribed to in Los Angeles but I find them unnecessary in rural Nebraska. There’s no need to have my unibrow waxed every two weeks when my current form of entertainment is knocking down a pulled pork sandwich at a daylong auction at the Ag Center. An alpha hydroxy acid peel would be a waste of money when the only person I’m trying to impress is the girl working at Runza because I don’t want her to screw up my order…yet again. And since I’ve traded in my flip flops for cowboy boots, a pedicure is pointless.

They say that trends begin on the West Coast and travel east. I think the popularity of men investing time in their grooming seems to have skipped over our neck of the woods. I’m not saying that men here on the Great Plains aren’t attractive. On the contrary. Men here tend to be very handsome in a rugged sort of way. It’s the philosophy that less is more. Men are men and spray tans, highlights and facials are better left for the ladies.

Since I have been back in my rural hometown, I realize that I am more aware of what I say and what I do as opposed to when I am in Los Angeles. I find that in a city you try to stand out but in a small town you do your best to fit in. Perhaps that is just my perspective. Through trial and error, I have learned how to be a real “guy” again. I learned during my first downpour back here in Nebraska that men don’t use umbrellas. I don’t understand why but I assume you are just expected to get wet and deal with it. When you go to the bar in town you order a beer; not a Manhattan. I only made that mistake once. At a restaurant I order a salad with dressing on the side and the waitress looked at me as if she wanted to say, “Sure thing, Fancy Pants.” I’ve learned that it’s always important to know the final score of the last Husker game, the current price of corn and you need to know that the mud on your truck is a badge of honor not a reason to scurry to the carwash. 

That being said, I draw the line at saying things like, “GIT-R-DONE!”

I just can’t do it.

Scott Rager

Robert Scott Rager is a Nebraska native who returned home to start a boutique business called "County Seat Living". His personal goal for "County Seat" is to translate the lifestyle design he was creating in Los Angeles for the past twelve years and apply it to the sensibility of the Great Plains. Whether he's writing about decorating, homemade ice cream, floral creations, event planning or product design, he wants the personality and style of Nebraska to shine bright.