I have spent the last nine days in a car touring the Wild West with two of my girl friends and my sister. We decided on a road trip in order to fully immerse ourselves in the West experience.
While the West was fun in more ways than I can count—need I say: cowboys, horses, mountains, wind turbines, bison, all that vast vastness—there was one state that made me feel good as far as the men-folk were concerned, Nebraska.
We started our trip in the great Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where my bestie and sister live, and had made our way down through Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa— with a pit stop at the Bridges of Madison County, of course— before hitting Nebraska. I had just gotten through wondering aloud to my sister, what exactly Nebraska was known for when we decided on a coffee stop. We hadn’t reached any consensus on what Nebraska’s redeeming quality was, yet, as we walked into a Kum & Go (no lie, this is an actual very popular gas station out West). As I got my coffee, I couldn’t help but notice the men. Or more appropriately the men noticing me.
Now as a girl who relies heavily on winning over men with her personality, wit and charm, I am comfortable with the fact that I don’t get a lot of double takes from men based purely on looks alone. It’s OK. I am not a double take kind of girl. This doesn’t mean I think I am unpretty. I don’t think I am anything to sneer at, but based upon empirical evidence, I rarely encounter the double take. Unless I am with my sister Kirstie. That girl gets double takes from every male she encounters, ever. Probably even from squirrels. But she deserves it and I harbor no resentment.
But back to Nebraska.
It’s not that I was receiving double takes or even surmising that I was being appreciated, no. It was a general sense of being noticed or maybe even wondered about. The first man who did it looked to be about 40 and had a real salt of the earth look about him. He seemed like he built tractors or something. When I passed through the door of the Kum & Go he paused to graciously let me through and when I attempted to hold the door that was shutting behind me, he nodded his head in that cowboy sort of way, acknowledging my effort.
All right. Nothing too jazzy. But then the manager asked me how I was doing as I filled up my coffee. Well, he’s a manager, so that’s his job. But then the cashier made long lingering eye contact and asked me pointed questions like he actually cared. Interesting. Another salt of the earth mans man (there were lots of these out West) held open the door for me as I walked out with my coffee. This may all sound very generic and like I have concocted something in my head, but as someone who notices when I am being noticed, let me tell you, I was being noticed. And I wasn’t even looking my best. I had on leggings and a three-quarter length tee, and my hair was pulled back into a messy ponytail. Granted, I felt supremely adorable (my confidence has been ratcheting as of late and I have not minded the benefits one bit) that day for some reason, so that could’ve radiated, but still, I was no Heidi Klum.
When my sister got back in the car I excitedly proclaimed that I had figured out what Nebraska had to be known for: their men! I rattled off all the men in the store who hadn’t merely overlooked me, but instead paused, made eye contact, held doors, nodded, asked questions. It was sensational and I felt this must be what Kirstie felt like all the time. Dare I say, it might’ve been more delicious than my coffee. Which was pretty good considering I bought it at a Kum & Go.
If this was just the beginning of the West, then clearly the West is where I belong.