One thing The Cowboy has taught me well is this: Wearing a cowboy hat doesn’t make you a cowboy. Cowboy is a way of life. Cowboy is a profession. Cowboy is an avocation. “Just because you wear a tutu don’t make you a goddamned ballerina,” he says, in his most Cowboy way.
Far as I can tell, there are three kinds of cowboys in the world — Old School Cowboys; Modern Cowboys; and Fake Cowboys. My Cowboy is old school.
How can you tell the difference?
DOGS. Old School Cowboys don’t let dogs in the house, and stick to cow-working breeds like Catahoulas. Modern Cowboys let dogs in the house, but only because their wives insist, and mix their cow-working breeds with other breeds as long as they’re not too frou-frou. Fake Cowboys let all dogs in the house, including Yorkies.
COFFEE. Old School Cowboys drink it black, period, and it comes from a can of Folgers they got at the nearest market (must be at least 20 miles away) on one of their twice-monthly trips to town. Modern Cowboys use cream or milk sometimes, but only because their wives made it that way. Fake Cowboys buy their coffee at Starbucks in the city.
MUSIC. Old School Cowboys do not listen to contemporary country music because they think country has been nothing but pop music since Garth Brooks destroyed it; they prefer Western, Outlaw Country and old country, with special fondness for Chris LeDoux. Modern Cowboys listen to WSIX out of Nashville on the satellite radio in their pickups, but only because their wives programmed it in. Fake Cowboys listen to Justin Timberlake when no one’s looking.
TOBACCO. Old School Cowboys carry tobacco with them at all times, usually between their cheek and gum, and cannot be convinced to quit by woman or doctor and will in fact laugh if you try. Modern Cowboys use tobacco when no one’s looking and chew gum to hide the smell from their wives. Fake Cowboys prefer Altoids.
ALCOHOL. Old School Cowboys drink whiskey straight or on ice. Modern Cowboys drink half-whiskey, half-water, but do it less and less because their wives think they should quit. Fake Cowboys drink Miller Light and mojitos and wonder why Old School Cowboys won’t play pool with them.
HATS. Old School Cowboys have inky brown tobacco stains around their summer hats because they know spitting in it is the trick to keeping the damn thing on in the summer wind. Modern Cowboys keep their hats on with a chin cord. Fake Cowboys wear baseball caps, sideways.
PICKUPS. Old School Cowboys drive Fords and get mad if you call them trucks because trucks are semis. Modern Cowboys drive Chevys. Fake Cowboys drive Toyotas.
JEANS. Old School Cowboys wear classic Wranglers, period. Modern Cowboys mix it up with Cinch, too. Modern Cowboys wear all kinds of jeans, but only on Fridays because they mistakenly think jeans are “casual” and wear slacks the rest of the week.
POETS. Old School Cowboys like Waddie Mitchel. Modern Cowboys like Waddie Mitchel, too. Fake Cowboys pretend to like Waddie Mitchel but in truth have no idea what he’s talking about when he says things like, “Shore ’nuff that cow lied in the crick there and died.”
DESSERT. Old School Cowboys add hard liquor to a can of peaches in syrup and eat it fireside. Modern Cowboys eat the pies their wives make. Fake Cowboys eat tiramisu in town.