Like any three-year old, Little Guy seems to either outgrow or wear out shoes within a matter of weeks. It’s getting to Christmastime, one of those times where the kids get a little spiffier, so he needed some “dress” shoes. When we were at the mall shopping, we stopped at that essential store for parents with toddlers: Payless. Lovely Wife was looking around and pulled down a pair of shiny black cowboy boots. “What about these,” she asked, “they would work, wouldn’t they?” I got a big grin on my face and nodded my affirmation. She had Little Guy try them on, and of course he fell in love. They were right up there with his sneakers that have Spiderman on them and light up. It was here that I informed Lovely Wife that cowboy boots were one of the coolest things for a little boy to own.
I think she already knew this however, because there was already a little boy in the house who owned a pair of cowboy boots. One that is 35 years old.
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But it’s not just the boots. Somewhere deep inside of me, I yearn to be a cowboy. I know, it sounds silly, but hear me out.
Apparently this has been going on for a while. I was at my mom and dad’s house a while back, and mom had packed up a box of stuff from when I was a tot. Curious, I flipped open the flaps of the cardboard box, and there was a pair of shiny black cowboy boots. I didn’t remember those, but I did remember the ones that I owned when I was about 7 or 8. Gray at the feet with black shafts. Man, did I love those boots. I would put them on, along with my jeans and a flannel shirt and my black felt hat that had been misshapen and recreased about a thousand times. I didn’t have a horse (real or otherwise) but I didn’t need one. I remember owning two cap guns. One looked like a typical clip style that you might use if you were a G-man on the trail of John Dillinger. The other looked like a Colt Peacemaker. You can guess which one got more use from me. Back in the days of the early 80s, it looked real, too. It wasn’t cast in crazy colored plastic. It was metal. It did have a plastic grip, but it was meant to look like ivory. It certainly didn’t have a bright red tip at the end.
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Maybe it was in my blood (pretty sure now that’s not the case). Maybe it’s because I grew up in South Dakota. After all, at one time or another Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and the James brothers all passed through our great state. Whatever it was, I wanted to be out there.
Of course as an adult reality has sunk in. Not just the fact that the days of the Wild West were long over even before I was born. As far as I can remember I’ve only fired two real guns in my life: my father-in-law’s shotgun (at some clay pigeons–which I was pretty good at hitting) and my brother-in-law’s brother’s AR-15 (which I shot several times at an empty bottle of Crown Royal without a successful hit.) I have a Mustang, but she has wheels rather than hooves. I couldn’t even be a modern-day cowboy. Although I have ridden a horse before, just the thought of being in the saddle all day makes my ass sore. The closest I have gotten to the cowboy experience is repeated watchings of my favorite movie: Tombstone.
Lovely Wife has helped me indulge my little fantasy since we’ve been married, though. A few years ago for my birthday she bought me a baseball cap embroidered with “National Day of the American Cowboy July 26, 2008”. Of course July 26 happens to be my birthday. The real gift was still to come–later that week she escorted me to RCC Western Store where I got to pick out my own adult sized cowboy boots. I have several belt buckles. Never mind that some of them have things like the Batman logo on them. This summer I purchased a cowboy hat from Cabelas
. A real fur felt job. I’ll never be a cowboy, but I can put these items on, and strum my guitar while I sing Country music tunes.
I am sure not everyone understands. Toby Keith does, at least according to his song. I think Little Guy does too.