Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Myth vs. Fact: Nebraska

Many people are ill-informed about Nebraska. And since it’s my home state, I feel that the duty falls squarely upon my shoulders to dispel the myths about The Good Life.

Myth 1: Nebraska is flat, like your girlfriend in junior high

While it is true that many areas of Nebraska are flat (notably any part of it near Kansas, which is as flat as Kate Moss) it is largely composed of rolling hills, so it could more accurately be described as lumpy, like your great aunt Matilda. Also, as anyone who has seen our new state quarter knows, or indeed anyone who has played The Oregon Trail also knows, Chimney Rock is located in Nebraska. So it’s actually more like that transvestite with whom you had an ill-advised intoxicated fling.

Myth 2: Nebraska is full of a bunch of rednecks

This myth is actually true. I went to high school with many of those people, and in fact got called out by one of them to fight on a gravel road before I found out that his dad was the boxing coach. But there are many other people in Nebraska as well. Lincoln, for instance, has the highest per-capita gay population of any city in the nation, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha has the highest per-capita gay population of any college in the nation. In the 1970’s, Pierce County (of which I’m a native) had the highest per-capita alcohol intake of any county in the nation, so there’s also a lot of alcoholics in Nebraska. So . . . rednecks, homos, and alcoholics . . . and then there’s a couple other people, too. My criminal law professor from last year is an old hippy. I’m sure I’ve met other people from Nebraska too. And hey, even if we are a bunch of rednecks, at least we’re not Wyoming.

Myth 3: Nebraska = corn and cows, not much else

This myth is absolutely not true. We also grow soybeans. And . . . there’s a Kawasaki plant here in Lincoln; ATV’s are pretty cool. We also have at least one very fine brewery (Empyrean Ales), if not others, and several wineries, and some of the best trout fishing in North America, if you know where to go. But seriously, even if it is true, who cares? City people have to eat something. Plus, I get better steak than you people do, and I get it cheaper. So it would seem that you’re the loser.

Myth 4: Nebraska is mostly just like old Western movies

No, we don’t have to fight off Chief Pooping Bison, people don’t ride horses and wear revolvers on their belts, and we do, in fact, have indoor plumbing. We also have Internet access, in case you were wondering. But if we want, we don’t have to go too far to find a place to shoot blue rock (or clay pigeons, if you prefer) or ride horses if we want too. And we’re not stupid enough to pay other people to let us do the ranching work for them.

Myth 5: Nebraskans don’t talk smart

There’s some truth to this. I was trying to think of some strange speech patterns among people I know. Whether they’re a dialect thing or individual quirkiness, I don’t know, but here are a few:
- the word “bagel” pronounced as “beg-əl”
- the word “creek” pronounced as “crick”
- words with a double-o like “root” rhyme with “put”
- we borrow things to people, we don’t loan them to people
- and a few of us “warsh” our clothes and cars rather than washing them

Fact: Kool-Aid was invented in Nebraska

In Hastings, actually. Nothing cooler than that was invented in your state.


Hey, I like Nebraska. You can stay away if you like, because that’s just more space for me. I know it’s The Good Life like it says on the signs at the borders. You can keep whatever you have and breathe your smog or sit in traffic all day if you want to. You’ll know me because I’ll be the guy that gets to work or school in 15 minutes and breathes natural air while watching the stars at night.


  1. 1. Nebraska is pretty flat, but not nearly as flat as North Dakota.

    2. I remember that fight. Good times.

    3. Actually, more or less true. ATVs are pretty cool, though. Good thing we have lots of "lumpy" land to ride them on.

    4. Good ol' Chief Pooping Bison... what's he up to these days?

    5. It should be mentioned that Omaha is the telemarketer/technical support/basically anyone who talks on the phone for a living capital of the country. The Nebraska accent is quite neutral. If I can borrow a joke from the Colbert Report: "...it sounds like they are from nowhere... which, when you think about it, is pretty much true."

    And yes, Kool-Aid rocks. You'd think that cheap, off-brand sugar water could at least come close, but somehow they haven't.

    Also from Nebraska: Marlon Brando, Malcolm X, Fred Astaire, Johnny Carson, Henry Fonda, Warren Buffett, Nick Nolte, and errr... Dick Cheney.

    I'd like to point out for all of you Cheney-haters that he came from Lincoln. Lincoln is the bastard child of Nebraska. Don't blame the rest of the state. The rest of them are pretty cool, except maybe Nick Nolte.

  2. This is what I know about Nebraska. Nebraskans are a healthy bunch by and large. The theory is that it is due to the extreme weather (very cold winters, very hot summers) in Nebraska which at one time drove away the less than robust folks who could not hack it as farmers there. Darwin's natural selection at work?

  3. I've never heard that theory SusieQ, but it makes sense. I can't think of a state with more extreme weather, in terms of hot vs. cold. Sure, Minnesota and Colorado get colder and a lot more snow, but their summers are just a whimper compared to ours. Louisiana is of course the opposite extreme.

    But the good thing about toughing out the weather is that parts of Nebraska have the most fertile soil in the nation, if not the world.

  4. I have never heard a native Nebraskan, within the borders of this state or anywhere else, utter the words, "borrow(ing) something to" someone. No way. It cannot be.

  5. Maybe it's just my mom that says it, and then of course I have inherited it from her. It might be a very small regional thing.

  6. Okay, I just moved here from the DC area. I'm a fly fisherman and the corporate recruiter told me about the huge brown trout in the Missouri River. So what if the fish are a 1000 miles upstream from Omaha. By the way, ya'll got 10 miles of bitty trout water.... Hmmm, "great trout fishing?" I think not.

  7. I wasn't referring to the Missouri River. I was referring to Grove Lake and the streams near it, where there is a trout hatchery.

  8. Also another thing that marks you as a "true" Nebraskan: Lunch is Dinner and Dinner is Supper (at least in the rural areas).

    I can't tell you how many times I have spoken to one of the "foreigners" i.e. anyone who lives east of the Missouri River, and told them "I'll call you after dinner". They think I'm going to call in the evening when I really mean in afternoon.

  9. I found this post by Googling "Nebraska redneck." I'm moving there soon and am worried about that. Nice to know there is also a huge gay population in the city I'm moving too. Just great. Just wonderful.

  10. I also think the rocking chair and strobelight were invented in nebraska.

  11. The strobe light was made much more common by a Nebraskan, Harold Eugene "Doc" Edgerton (born in Fremont and raised in Aurora, graduated from UNL). He is more well-known for his photography, including the famous shot of a bullet going through an apple.

    As for the rocking chair, no it wasn't invented in Nebraska. It was purportedly invented by Benjamin Franklin, but who knows?

  12. Low crime, huge gay population, overall good people, and beautiful sunsets. Lincoln rocks!!!

  13. "Lincoln, for instance, has the highest per-capita gay population of any city in the nation, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha has the highest per-capita gay population of any college in the nation."

    Could you please help me find the source of this statistic? I've heard it too, but not sure where it's coming from.

  14. Actually, I think it is a myth. Who knows?