I don't like cowboy movies. I don't like Westerns. I don't like Country & Western music.
I never have. I doubt I ever will.
I don't much care for cowboys beyond the aesthetics and the images of masculinity they portray.
I liked Brokeback Mountain because of the story, but I hated that they were cowboys.
I sort of liked Hee-Haw for about 23 seconds back when I was a kid.
I don't know why this is.
I grew up in Texas and Texas is a very cowboy-friendly state. And I don't have anything against cowboys or cowgirls. Just not on film.
So with this is mind, it is surprising that I just got home from watching 'True Grit', the Coen brothers film.
It was a combination of things which made me go see it.
The original catalyst was a friend from French class calling me up.
Would I like to join them around 8:20 PM?
I asked what they were going to see. When he told me, my first reaction was, no. Not in this lifetime. No way no how.
But then, and this all happened very quickly, my mind plucked a long forgotten memory from the past, and I changed my mind very quickly. Split second type thing.
You see, when I was a kid, my younger sister read 'True Grit', the novel by Charles Portis.
I remember that she loved it. She would go on and on about it. And I loved the fact that my sister liked to read novels.
That she liked cowboy novels was very much in keeping with the kind of kids we both were.
I never read it because, well, because it was a cowboy novel and I didn't like that type of thing. And I still don't.
And so tonight, a couple of decades and a continent later, I thought that, just to see what it was that she liked so much, I would go and see the cowboy film. A sort of small tribute to her.
No, I was not captivated from the start. In fact, I thought the start was a bit slow. But then, it happened.
It began to take a life of its own. The characters, the storyline, the, well, the everything about it.
I have to say that I really liked this movie. But I also discovered something else. I discovered why it would appeal to my sister.
She too had, has, true grit. She is a fighter. She always has been.
I have always been the conciliator in my family, the diplomat.
I signed the treaties, made the peace; and she fought the wars with guns a'blazin'.
Yes, that is she. A real firecracker. Just like Madame Mère.
And I could see how a preteen girl growing up in Texas would find comfort in that book. She must have seen herself reflected, if only a little bit, in the novel.
You see, our childhood, was a very trying time for us. Moving all the time, changing countries, friends, schools, subjects, different cultures etc etc.
We somehow survived it.
As we all do. I envy those people who say they had an idyllic childhood.
Ours was not idyllic. It was adventurous and challenging.
It was also interesting, exotic, cultured, and wild.
Curious, moving, sad, happy, well, I think it was a lot of things, but for better or worse, it is now over.
I never gave how we got through it much thought. But today, I got a small clue as to how my sister made it through, and why she did. It helped, in perhaps the smallest of ways, to give her character. Like literature tends to do.
I think this book must have given her strength somehow. It probably gave her a role model, a behavior pattern when faced with adversity.
It is so important to have a role model in life, even if it is only in fiction. It allows you to choose a certain behavior when facing a problem, or a situation. It acts as a sort of protocol, or at least, as a pre-rehearsal to what is about to unfold.
In many, (most?), cases, challenges happen upon us and we deal with them as best we can.
But a role model can help you in these situations, don't you think?
I remember years ago when I was going through a rough patch, like we all do, and I was telling her about it.
And to this day I remember her words:"Stick to your guns!"
I'm not sure where she got them from, but it was the first time I heard them coming from her.
And at the time, I did. And I think, ever since then, whenever things go topsy turvy, I remember her words.
I suppose she must have gotten it from Madame Mère, this fighting spirit. The two are so alike. And before you say it, no, I'm not adopted. I look just like my mother.
And I have no clue where the diplomatic streak comes from since I don't think anyone in my family is particularly diplomatic.
But there you go, authorship unknown, but still a fact.
So I'm really glad I went to see this movie, and I will recommend it to friends to go and see it.
It has everything a good movie should have: a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Believable characters, and a plot.
Weak point? I'm nitpicking here, but the hoopskirts the actresses wear are not believable.
From watching hundreds of photographs from the era, I can attest to the fact that crinoline skirts had a different shape and the fabric hung and draped over them differently in real life -or at least, in real photographs.
I know, it is only a movie, but, like I said, it is the only thing that made me go "humm".
Will I go back to see another cowboy flick in the future? No, I don't think so.
I may do, but listen, I hated back to the Future part III because of all the XIX century cowboy crap.
Like I said, I don't like cowboy stuff .