When I look at any particular item for the store I always have to ask myself, "Is this western? Will a cowboy or cowgirl want to wear or use this?" It should never surprise me then, when folks ask me, "Do you think this is 'cowboy'?"
It could be the shape of a hat, or the jeans you wear, or even the color of your rope that is called into question. And it is most often people who are still a little fuzzy about this thing we call a western lifestyle that proudly judge what is, and is not -- Cowboy.
Fact is, "cowboy" is a hotly contested label some things are proud to have, some things are begging to get, and some things can't seem to shake no matter how much they protest.
Let's take wild rags for example. For those of you who don't know, a wild rag is a cowboy bandanna. And not just any bandanna, but typically a fine silk scarf, probably in a loud print or a brilliant color. It is one of the most fundamental pieces of attire a working cowboy can wear. Temperature control aside, when worn, a wild rag is a badge of belonging to the west. I can't tell you how many times a spectator at a show wanders through the booth, gently fingers the beautiful, bright fabric and asks, "What are these for?" After explaining the purpose and function more than one person scoffs, "Not any cowboy I know!"
Here's a more recent application. In the movie Cowboys And Aliens former 007 star Daniel Craig plays a tough outlaw who shoots UFO's from horseback. Is that cowboy?
Rock and Roll has a long-time love affair with cowboys too. I always think of Cody Ohl riding in to Kid Rock's "Cowboy" at the Thomas and Mack during the NFR in Las Vegas. Is Kid Rock cowboy too?
What I try to get across to new employees when they join the crew here is this; cowboy isn't a just a word, or a label. It's an image, a lifestyle, or even an attitude. When the gals here told me we needed ladies headbands in the store, I admit I crinkled me nose and thought, "That's not very cowboy." But when I saw how they were being worn by some of the toughest cowgirls around, I realized I needed to take my own advice to heart.
So the next time you see something new, be it square toed boots, a black roping saddle, or even blinged-out belt with peace signs on it, consider the spirit, the pride, and the heart that went into making the object before you decide just how 'cowboy' it is. And when you're feeling froggy, 'cowboy' up, put it on, and prove to the rest of the world just how right you are!