I was sifting through my unheard audio books this morning and decided I would listen to Sackett's Land, by Louis L'Amour. When times are tough and the going is difficult, I feel drawn to cowboys. If you have a cowboy handy, you can get almost anything done.
At least that's what I grew up believing, thanks to 1950s/1960s television. Back in those days, westerns ruled the air waves. My favorites were Wagon Train, Rawhide, Sky King, Fury, Roy Rogers, Bonanza, Maverick and some whose names I don't recall. In the late 60s and early 70s came along Wild, Wild West, High Chaparral, Lancer and Cimarron Strip. Their stories were simple. Bad guy wears black hat. Good guy wears white hat, stops bad guy and gets girl. Moral conflicts were clear. Do good. Stand for what is right. Go to church. Treat your womenfolk with respect. Damn, I wish life were that simple.
Living in Texas gives you opportunities to know real cowboys. Not the drugstore cowboys, but the ones who really get up close and personal with the cattle and know how to sit a horse. And how to dig a post hole and run barbed wire. You run into an old cowboy and you still get treated like a lady and something worth respect. You hear "ma'am" a lot.
I spent many an hour following the exploits of my cowboy heroes. I would lose myself to daydreams where I was travelling west on a wagon train and being rescued by Flint McCullough. Or maybe Joe Cartwright or Rowdy Yates. They were some fine cowboys who could be counted on to always do the right thing, with unyielding bravery. They weren't afraid to get their hands dirty when there was work to be done. And they sure cleaned up nice for the Saturday night social.
I enjoy my current status as an emancipated woman, but there are times when I wouldn't mind being transported back to the 1880s and the company of cowboys. I would make a great schoolmarm. Of course, I know the romance of the period is mostly in my imagination and in the stories I watched unfold on television. I'm sure the real picture was hardship and danger, and that the cowboys were dirty and ill-educated. But the concept of cowboy will always bring to mind the guy you want around when there's trouble or there's work to be done. Or a Virginia Reel to be danced.
I guess I still look for a little bit of cowboy in the men I'm drawn to. Education and refinement are fine and desirable qualities, but I still want a touch of Flint McCullough, Rowdy Yates, Johnny Lancer, Sheriff Jim Crown, or James T. West. I want an intelligent conversation and good table manners, sure. But I really want a man who can stand tough and fight the bad guys. A man who will provide for his family and help his neighbors, instead of focusing on the size of his bank account.
Maybe it's time we turned our government over to cowboys. (And being from Texas and owning a ranch doesn't make you one.) Then we could get things done, done quickly, done honestly, and done with an eye towards making the world a better place to be for everybody. In short, a cowboy does the right thing, without the regard for personal gain.