Eureka, California, U.S.A.
May 08
Born 1944 in Alligator, Mississippi. Son of a Southern Baptist preacher. Eight books, last two with Knopf. Novelist, poet, painter, mathematician. No humorous self-deprecating comments because if you knew me you could supply them yourself.


Hontonoshijin's Links

JUNE 16, 2009 1:21PM

Cowboy Rules

Rate: 4 Flag

You may become angry reading what follows, as I did.  I'm attaching my letter of response.  I'm not giving the name of the friend who copied it to me (from something a friend sent that person), because I am quite certain no insult was intended.

Cowboy rules for:  Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Idaho, Nevada and the rest of the Wild West are as follows:

          1. Pull your pants up. You look like an idiot.

          2. Turn your cap right, your head ain't crooked.

          3. Let's get this straight:  it's called a 'gravel road.' I drive a pickup truck because I want to. No matter how slow you drive, you're gonna get dust on your Lexus. Drive it or get out of the way.

          4. They are cattle. That's why they smell like cattle. They smell like money to us. Get over it. Don't like it? I-10,  I-40, I-70 and I-80 go east and west, I-17, I-15, I-25 and I-35 goes north and south. Pick one and go.

          5. So you have a $60,000 car. We're impressed. We have $250,000 Combines that are driven only 3 weeks a year.

          6. Every person in the Wild West waves. It's called being friendly. Try to understand the concept...

          7. If that cell phone rings while a bunch of
          geese/pheasants/ducks/doves are comin' in during the hunts, we WILL shoot it outa your hand. You better hope you don't have it up to your ear at the tim e.

          8. Yeah. We eat trout, salmon, deer and elk. You really want sushi and caviar? It's available at the corner bait shop.

          9. The 'Opener' refers to the first day of deer season. It's a religious holiday held the closest Saturday to the first of November.

          10. We open doors for women. That's applied to all women, regardless of age.

          11. No, there's no 'vegetarian special' on the menu. Order steak, or you can order the Chef's Salad and pick off the 2 pounds of ham and turkey.

          12. When we fill out a table, there are three main dishes: meats, vegetables, and breads. We use three spices: salt, pepper, and ketchup! Oh, yeah . . We don't care what you folks in Cincinnati call that stuff you eat   IT AIN'T REAL CHILI!!

          13. You bring 'Coke' into my house, it better be brown, wet and served over ice. You bring 'Mary Jane' into my house, she better be cute, know how to shoot, drive a truck, and have long hair.

          14. College and High School Football is as important here as the Giants, the Yankees, the Mets, the Lakers and the Knicks, and a dang site more fun to watch.

          15. Yeah, we have golf courses. But don't hit the water hazards - it spooks the fish.

          16. Turn down that blasted car stereo! That thumpity-thump crap ain't music, anyway. We don't want to hear it anymore than we want to see your boxers! Refer back to #1!

           A true Westerner will send this to at least 10 others and a few new friends that probably won't get it, but we're friendly so we share in hopes you can begin to understand what a real life is all about!!!


Dear (Friend)--

Sounds like an inferiority complex to me.  I have lived in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma (as well as Mississippi and Louisiana).  I love sushi and caviar, but I also like elk, deer, and fish.  I don't hunt but I know how to.

I smoke grass sometimes.  I don't knock back Bud or Coors and I don't smoke tobacco.  Actually probably about half the people in the above states smoke grass, especially the ones under 40.

I don't drive a $60,000 car, never have, and have never sneered at somebody who owns a combine.  We used mechanical cottonpickers on the cotton farm when I was a kid.

Yeah, they open doors for women.  And some of em beat women black and blue and utter slurs about niggers (and used to lynch blacks) and greasers, and their cops try to choke paramedics they think insulted them.  Why all the belligerence?  Why the veiled threats, the threat to shoot cellphones out of peoples' ears, shoot their heads off?  Is this really a sort of behavior I am supposed to admire?

What do I care if they wave at me if they threaten to beat me up when they meet me in person because I aint like them and don't share political opinions?  What kind of courtesy is that?  It's show courtesy, that's what it is, not the real thing.  For that matter, if a cowboy tries to beat me up he might have an awakening coming (he said, in a K. Troutlyish fashion).  I've seen a lot of self-styled cowboys, and even at 65 I can hold my own with most of em.  I can swim over a mile and a half in an hour, for example.  If there's anyone out there who thinks being in favor of peace and reason makes me weak, let him bring it on.

And do such people really think they have the corner on courtesy?  I've been treated with deep courtesy by doormen in New York (City), who were bemused by my Southern accent (and complimented me on my cowboy hat).  The key is to treat other people, even those who don't share my tastes and upbringing, with respect.

I don't play golf as it happens, think it's silly, but I love to watch Tiger Woods play.  And I'm sure there aint no cowboys nowhere that play golf.  Right.

I played football in junior high and high school, ran track and cross country in high school and college.  Lettered in track and football and cross country in both high school and college.  And sorry, no, but high school football is NOT more fun than the pros.  The coaches were, with a few exceptions, stupid and cruel.  It's a lie that it was about developing character.  Unless by character you mean violence and blind obedience.

Ever smelled Amarillo?  If that's what money smells like to you, you're welcome to your life.  There's other ways to make money that don't stink.

Go ahead, good buddy, restrict your diet to meat and starch (and a few boiled veggies).  Good luck with your heart and your weight as you get older.  Have a Camel to help your digestion, why don't you?

The whole thing is bullshit stereotyping.  Every intellectual isn't a snob, every cowboy isn't a tobacco-chewing liberal-killin' hero.  There's assholes everywhere and in every walk of life, and good people everywhere in every walk of life.

I'm more like a cowboy than a northeastern city boy.  I've fed cattle, picked cotton by hand, worked the dirt, built my own cabin with handtools.  I also happen to be an intellectual, I read books, I protested the undeclared wars in Viet Nam and Iraq.

It's true I don't clump around in high heels all day and think it makes me manly.  Though I do have a damn good pair of Luccheses.  Actually, she paints a highly idealized portrait of "cowboys."  There aint many like the ones she describes.  In Oklahoma and now in Arizona I don't see many Marlboro men, but I do see a lot of blankfaced mean old geezers hobbling around in hats and boots and driving giant pickups (quite a few of which cost more than a good car) because everybody else does.

You know what I admire?  People who think for themselves.  People who have the guts to follow what they love without spluttering hostility at other people who don't love the same things.  Real courtesy, not the kind that waves and then threatens to kill you.

I know--honest--that you don't mean to insult me, and I am not blaming you.

But (nameless) should be ashamed of herself for promoting idiotic stereotypes that foster anger and aggression and not understanding.  I'm sure she thinks it's funny, but maybe she should grow up and realize that the "cowboys" she thinks she is celebrating are really an extremely tiny part of the population of the Earth, and that the bellicose assumption of superiority such people make is what is really laughable.

And you can tell her I said so.

This is exactly the kind of shit that convinces people everyone in Oklahoma is sociopathic.  You and I know for a fact that is not true, so she is doing a disservice to the very people she thinks she is boosting.  Sorry to be so vehement but I have heard this kind of crap all my life and I do not intend ever to tolerate it quietly again.

Yours, Jack

Author tags:


Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Stereotypes are offensive. I have never smelled Amarillo. I have smelled Fort Worth near those meat processing plants and the pig farms in North Arkansas at that airport near the Walmart headquarters. Both smelled rather nasty. Only part of Oklahoma worth seeing is that section that borders Arkansas ;0)
"The whole thing is bullshit stereotyping. Every intellectual isn't a snob, every cowboy isn't a tobacco-chewing liberal-killin' hero. There's assholes everywhere and in every walk of life, and good people everywhere in every walk of life."

Your response to this is way more stereotypical than this stupid email. And in reading through it again, highly offensive to actual cowboys, my husband included.
I'm just happy that she is from Oklahoma. Amarillo ain't really that bad. Everyone has to be from somewhere...we are all victims of our environments, like it or not. Ignorance is bliss for everyone.
Rated & Cheers!
I kinda liked the e-mail. Nodded in agreement at parts. Not sure where the e-mail fosters aggression or anger, but I can see where your response might.

I don't really have time to do a point-by-point breakdown, but you really didn't respond to the e-mail. You responded to your own bitterness, for example in your complaint about bullying from high school football coaches. You moved the subject from high school and college football being more fun to watch than pro basketball and baseball to how high school football coaches are bullies, which has precisely what to do with watching the game?
Feel better now that you have insulted a large part of the population in the western half of the United States? And being from New Mexico and your inference that we beat women and call Black people "niggers'' all I have to say is:

Julie: No, my response is not "more stereotypical." My response points out that people are people, on the whole, but that some people need to learn common courtesy. My response points out the difference between show courtesy and the real thing. My response says that real cowboys do not fit the stereotypes any more than the stereotypes in the supposed "humor" fit actual people. Nowhere in my response do I talk about shooting people in the head if I don't like what they are doing.

It is true that I counter most of the assertions of the email with examples that blow the stereotypes apart. It is true that I did so with mockery and derision, not with the limp-spined acquiescence you might have expected. I did not talk about your husband because I don't know your husband. If he wishes to identify with stereotypes, it's his choice.

A common strategy in this sort of thing is claiming that it is only humor, only a joke, and that it is free speech, and acting as if the person committing the offense is the one being offended. In other words, reversing the reality.

You don't get to decide whether something offends me. I get to decide. If not common human decency, then self-preservation should tell anyone not to tell "nigger" jokes to blacks or "Chink" jokes to Chinese. How is this different? How hard is it to understand that insult and threat is not likely to produce admiration and understanding?

Mrs. Michaels: You are not sure what is offensive about the email. You thought it was funny. I suppose that makes it funny to everyone else on Earth? I hardly know what to say to you. Yes, I am bitter. Where do you think the bitterness came from? Did you miss the part where I said I grew up around this stuff? I have heard it all my life, and I am sick of it. Did you miss the part where I said I'm a country boy, that I have actually played high school football, and that maybe, just maybe I know what I am talking about? I am bitter because of the repetition of slanderous and mindless stereotypes. I have defended rednecks passionately against the slanders of self-appointed cultural elitists. Shall I be less passionate about equally mindless and ugly stereotypes in another direction?

And you are wrong: I DID respond to the email, almost point by point. I didn't bring up waving, or opening the doors for women, or sushi, or caviar, or combines, or high school football. I responded to repulsive stereotypes someone else brought up. Some points seemed so obviously preposterous I didn't bother, such as the implication that men can tell women what they ought to drive and how long they can wear their hair.

This is the kind of stuff that is funny only to a hermetic group of individuals, and the people who write it and the people who promote it may as well realize that fact. The age of tolerance for insult disguised as humor is over. The possession of wit and intelligence does not mean that you are a patsy who has to accept any description someone else wishes to paste onto you. I suspect that the propagators of this sort of nonsense are going to find themselves in an increasingly hostile world, whose hostility they will of course blame on anyone but themselves.

If you find that uncomfortable, I am sure you will be able to put the discomfort out of your mind shortly.
Oc nerve, you need to learn the difference between insulting somebody and responding angrily to an insult. But I suppose if you had been able to do that, your post might have been more eloquent and less of an unsuccessful attempt at intimidation. It might also help to develop enough reading comprehension to see that I did not say New Mexicans beat women. Since I lived there for quite a while, that would mean that I beat women, which I assuredly do not. For that matter I do not beat men, children, or animals either. What I did was counter a preposterous stereotype with an actuality. I said SOME cowboys (NOT New Mexicans) beat women and traded racial slurs. To most people this would indicate that I am well aware not ALL of them do. Do you deny that any self-described cowboy anywhere has ever behaved that way? If so, you lie. If not, you have no point.

And I suppose, since I do not have intercourse with horses, that you would be the one performing that act?

Texas Bubba, my mother and sister live in Amarillo. It's true we are all to some degree victims of where we live, though some of us, as your comment indicates, develop a degree of self-awareness. My point wasn't that Amarillo is bad, my point is that the supposed defense of Amarillo is unnecessary, defensive, and insulting.
You are sputtering nonsense. You don't even know what a true cowboy is. None of these things equates to one. You are the perpetrator hiding behind incomprehension.
That's right, Julie. I'm the bad guy. Feel better now?
Different strokes for different folks i guess takes all kinda for the world to go around but this here...............just sux (redneck version) ive smelled amerillo and ok city only difference is one has a thicker barbuque sause and a $200,000 dollar truck yea just means you got a "chicken truck" and not a"frightshaker" or a "shit spreader" still all can drag that cowtrailer down the road dont matter if its gravle ,dirt,concret or black top (lol) times have changed yes but the way of life is still there i may not wear a big "cowboy" hat or dress like john wayne or even mr trump
but dust blowing across the feild a slow burning sunset and siting in a fold up chair with my feet proped up on the kicker board of my tractor siping from a mason jar it's heaven i wouldnt trade it for all the money in new york city
Dear BA--

I quote from a response to an earlier letter:

"This is the kind of stuff that is funny only to a hermetic group of individuals, and the people who write it and the people who promote it may as well realize that fact. The age of tolerance for insult disguised as humor is over. The possession of wit and intelligence does not mean that you are a patsy who has to accept any description someone else wishes to paste onto you. I suspect that the propagators of this sort of nonsense are going to find themselves in an increasingly hostile world, whose hostility they will of course blame on anyone but themselves.

If you find that uncomfortable, I am sure you will be able to put the discomfort out of your mind shortly."
Once more, BA--

You have discovered the beauty in where you are, which is a fine thing, and which I admire. That's the only sane way to proceed. I would happily join you on your tractor sipping from a mason jar, if you would let me.

What pisses me off is not that people love the cowboy life, or that they live in OK, TX, LA, MS, NM or suchlike places. Like you say, takes all kinds. Where would my world be without Amarillo, without the cowboys? No, what pisses me off is people who cannot talk about how much they love a place, as you do, but who instead must mock others in order to convince themselves.

You know and I know that is the sound of untruth. And it is deeply insulting to those who differ, for whatever reason.