Cowboy (Non-Fiction, Rough Draft)

My father was many things in his life, but for about twenty of those years, he was a cowboy. These years were years before I was ever born, and by the time I had come, the boots had been traded in for dress shoes, and the reigns for a keyboard.

Yet for a long time, my dad was a cowboy, and I think even after he couldn’t do it physically, he still was mentally.

A few days back, the place where I worked decided to have a fun activity involving a square dancing, circle dancing, and of course the ubiquitous cowboy theme. I could have just ignored it, plenty of people did, but I figured I might as well participate. There is, however, nothing cowboyish about me. My hair looks best in a mowhawk, all my leather has metal studs, and when i’ve wielded a whip it had nothing to do with animals.

Which, of course, meant it was time to look to my roots. I went to my mother and asked, and she was more than willing to loan me a couple of Gene’s old items. I accepted them, a hat and a pair of chaps, with the utmost of care. The hat was a simple straw number, one that my dad didn’t wear much as it fit his head poorly. It didn’t fit my head either, but I wore it anyways. The chaps though, well, the chaps were different.

These chaps were custom made for my father, who much shorter and considerably stockier than I. Sized wrong, I knew the look was going to be off, even if I could figure out how to put them on, but I was already commited at this point. So, I found a way. Wiggling and twisting and bending, I got them on, a feat that would be repeated the next day at work.

I wore them all day, and got plenty of smiles, a few laughes, and a handful of compliments. And each time someone inquired, I would explain that they belonged to my dad, and that they were quite authentic. I would point out the marks in the leather from the hooves of horses, and the blacked areas where the leather had been marked over the years. And as I told, I began to look myself.

They were older than me, these chaps. Marks cut into the leather, from where horse feat had been held against a leg during shoing. His name was sticked to each side, and despite it’s age, the leather wasn’t the slightest bit worse for the wear. I could imagine my dad doing those cowboy things, living in a way I had never lived, and never would.

And I realized then, that these were relics of sort. Relics to me anyways, and probably to my mother, yet she had intrusted them to me. Was it wrong of me to use them thus? As a costume? Or was this some sort of tribute.

I returned the chaps two days later, folded nicely, with the hat laid on top. I never did get the answer, but if I ever see my dad again, I plan to ask him. I imagine he’ll be easy to spot. I’ll just look for the cowboy.

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~ by brokenrazor on July 22, 2008.

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