To The Duke

To The Duke

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I Wanna Be a Cowgirl

  • Girl Riding A Horse Clipart
    Okay. So maybe I wasn’t born in a western state. I wasn’t born on horseback. And I wasn’t born with a branding iron or lasso in my hand. But why can’t a country gal who grew up on the lapping shores of the Illinois River in a little town called Havana, call herself a cowgirl?
          Recently I attended a book signing for Brett Cogburn in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. Wanting to enjoy the occasion and do my part, I purchased a pair of cowboy boots. Ankle height, flat heel, very pretty with contrasting stitching. Now mind you, I already own three pair of cowboy boots. Two that kill my aged feet, and one red pair that has a long history, including being admired by the widow of John Wayne, but I wanted to celebrate with a pair of new boots.  
         The night before the signing is where the trouble began. That’s when one of my “real” cowboy friends, who shall remain nameless, told me my new boots weren't  cowboy boots at all, but city slicker boots.
          I laughed, but later what Dusty, I mean the cowboy who shall remain nameless said, really bugged me. I grew up country.  But because of the state listed on my birth certificate, I can be called a “flatlander” a “hoosier” a “river rat” and a “country gal” but I can’t be called a cowgirl? How does that work?
         I spent my youth in the Havana Theater on Saturdays watching cowboy movies from ten in the morning until 5 at night. Getting me out of the house for that long probably saved my grandmother from an early death. She’d already raised fifteen kids of her own, but I was thrown on her doorstep and she had to start all over with a wild young girl who wanted nothing more than to be John Wayne. I rode the fence out back, traipsed around in a pair of my uncle’s old rodeo boots, and spit and scratched like a prospector. I called my grandma ma’m. And on occasion threw out a curse word to make myself appear more fearsome. I wore Roy Rogers six shooters around my waist and begged everyone in town to watch my quick draw. Durn it, I was a cowgirl.
        Then life interfered and I went to school, got married, had three boys, and took the path that appeared in front of me for decades. Now I find myself surrounded with all things cowboy and naturally I’m falling back into the dreams and desires of my youth. I want to be a cowgirl.
          I might have wrangled corn growing up instead of cattle. I might have eaten fried catfish and frog legs instead of beans cooked over an open fire. I hunted raccoon with my grandpa instead of bears and buffalo. But we moved to the country and bought horses when my kids were old enough to ride, and I walked around doing chores with a piece of straw between my lips. I took up scratching and spitting again, and let go of many disparaging words.  But for the life of me I can’t figure out why just being born in a certain place can make all the difference in receiving the coveted title of cowboy or cowgirl.
          While putting together the Cactus Country anthologies, our goal was to publish things besides traditional westerns. We published a wonderful poem that basically said being a cowboy is simply a state of mind. I guess I’ll do what I always do...buck convention and be a cowgirl whether those around me agree with it or not. And don’t tell anyone, but I happen to know that the cowboy who shall remain nameless was actually born in Chicago. 


  1. I say you are a cowgirl! Yeeee Hawww!

  2. Oh, I so loved today's blog page! My parents were anti-horse and my grandparents rode in a Shodeo Club with their horses. I was caught somewhere in-between. I rode my bike with a rope tied around the handle reins, thank you very much!

  3. Lou,
    With your imagination you can be whatever you be.

  4. If those fellers overseas in Britain, France and Germany can be cowboys, I say you can be a cowgirl!