Tuesday, September 26, 2006

COLUMN: Cowboys

It's times like this -- the creative, laid-back moments when I sit down to write each week's column -- that my thoughts naturally turn toward one thing: world domination.

I've made no secrets of my eventual goal to conquer and rule you all with my cold, iron heart and rapier wit, so it shouldn't come as a shock to you. The only real shock is in how stinkin' long it seems to be taking. Frankly, I was kind of hoping that you readers would have all become my Horde of Evil Minions by now. I don't get what the hold-up is.

Regardless, it WILL someday happen. So in my position as the future ruler of all mankind, mankind often asks me, "Gee, Shane, if you could change ONE thing in the world, what would it be?"

Hmmm. Would I fix the political climate of the Middle East? Well, I suppose. (I actually have a plan for this. It's a work in progress, but it starts by kicking EVERYONE out of Israel and turning the whole area into a global state park. No one owns it, no one lays claim to it, but everybody can visit as long as you play nice. Park closes at dusk. Camping with permit only.)

Maybe I'd fix global warming. (Again, a solid plan exists, involving the 7-11 Corp. and a Slushee machine the size of Greenland. Soon, Al Gore will have his icebergs back, and this time they'll be a delightful cherry flavor!)

But these issues, critical as they may be, are on the backburner. Because, first and foremost, if I ran the world, I'd need to change one thing straight away -- an issue that has plagued our fragile world for far too long.

I'm speaking, of course, about guys who dress like cowboys.

This month I've been to a fair share of weddings, birthdays and formal dinners. (One of my female co-workers tells me this is because "autumn is the new spring!" I am extraordinarily happy to NOT know what that means.) At every one of these functions, without fail, there's some dude dressed up like a cowboy.

You know the look. Big ol' cowboy hat, a bolo tie (usually in torquoise,) shiny leather boots, and a button-up shirt that has at least a 60 percent chance of incorporating some element of the American flag. This fancy get-up is supposed to blend right into the normal, sane world of suits and dresses. It is supposed to be formal wear. It is in no way, shape, or form supposed to be what it truly is: a poorly timed Halloween costume.

Why is this "cowboyism" socially acceptable? Are there any other occupations that I can play dress-up and go out in public as? Could I show up at a wedding dressed as a pirate? Wander into the Outing Club in a crisp set of medical scrubs? Yet, bizarrely, I can show up in a 10-gallon hat and expect to not get laughed onto the first stagecoach outta Dodge.

Do these people not own mirrors?

The way I see it, there are TWO acceptable scenarios for showing up at a formal party dressed up like Roy Rogers:

1. You are paid to entertain children with lasso tricks and balloon animals.

2. There is an emergency situation at the party involving cattle that need to, in some form or another, be wrangled. Nothing ruins a good wedding reception quite like a stampede. If, as a seasoned and professional cowboy, you sense at least a 75 percent chance of bovine interruption in what otherwise would be a pleasant soiree, then -- and ONLY then -- should you be allowed to step into crisis mode and don the appropriate cattle-handling wardrobe.

Look, I'm no expert in the ways of the cowboy. However, I have seen my fair share of Westerns, so let me tell you one universal truth I've picked up about the cowboy way: Cowboys are, as a general rule, quite dirty people.

The cowboys I'm familiar with have no time to freshly iron their shirts. They don't have the means to glue shiny stuff onto their belt buckles in the shape of Texas. The cowboys I remember don't do brunch. They're a tad bit too busy having gunfights, hitching horses, and taking care of an assortment of "no-good varmints." They are covered in dust and mud, and they most likely smell of horses. What's scary is that there must be a surplus of guys out there who think this is COOL.

This, friends, is the crisis I would handle if I ruled the world.

Hmmm. But honestly, do I want to rule a world that deems it socially acceptable to emulate Brooks and/or Dunn in public settings? Do I want evil minions capable of performing the Boot-Scootin' Boogie?

As much as it hurts my achy-breaky heart, perhaps I need a rethink. Or at least a dress code next time I throw a shindig.


Anonymous said...

1. What you saw was not a real cowboy. He's a farmboy, wanna be. Something we unfortunately have an abundance of in the midwest. What you saw, yes, is totally unacceptable, but please do not lump them into the world of real cowboys.

2. Real cowboys are not always dirty and do not always smell of horses. Real cowboys know how to clean up well and typically show up at weddings starched and pressed. And at the end of the evening, they will still look just as starched and pressed and clean cut as the minute they walked in the door. Much unlike the bridal party who will have paid thousands of dollars for outfits only to be half undressed, untucked and shoeless a minute after the first dance is over.

3. Your reference to "Boot scooting" and "Achey breaky" are disturbing. Real cowboys wouldn't be caught dead line dancing. But they know how to two step, waltz and twirl a girl on the floor.

4. I have known real cowboys to wear just as much Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfilger as the next guy. They would not be caught dead with a flag on their shirt because they know it's disrespectful.

5. The real cowboys I have dated in the past and the one I currently date say please, thank you, yes ma'am, no ma'am and take their hats off in church, at the dinner table and when they meet your mother. They are the most respectful, wonderful men I have ever dated and would gladly choose a real cowboy over any city boy who apparently have forgotten how to open doors. Real cowboys know how to treat a lady with respect and manners.

6. Real cowboys of today know how to dress well just as much as the next guy. They know bolo ties are passe. They will wear a proper tie and suit jacket to a wedding, along with their dress hat and dress boots.

7. You're an idiot if you think Westerns are a good example of what a real cowboy is these days. If that's what you base your cowboy outline on...let me tell you - you are WAY off. And completely WRONG.

8. I'm all for banning the dress style you described, but please - do not lump those doofuses into the world of real cowboys or assume that real cowboys are dirty, stinky men who are clueless about proper dress attire. Besides...I've seen plenty of city boys who dress pretty crappy and are no fashion plates themselves.

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Anonymous said...

Do you happen to be a fan of the Dallas Cowboys?