I like to think that good men still come in a variety of packages. Policemen, super-heroes and cowboys all epitomize characteristics that we females seek out above others. The exteriors may be different, but the heart, the grit and the true nature of the man are what draw us like moths to flame. I recently had the distinctive pleasure of meeting an honest-to-goodness, true-to-life, born-a-hundred-years-too-late cowboy. One thing about Texas is that you realize that the cowboys haven't all disappeared. They may be fewer in numbers, older, a little worse for wear and you may have to look a little harder to find them, but they are still around.
My first breakfast here in Man-World consisted of going to 'the cafe'. Bill & Rosa's is a typical small-town restraunt with a wood plank porch, screen door and assorted stuffed heads hanging on the wall. The interior is decorated with old Americana signs, license plates and farm equipment and there isn't a matching table in the room. Rosa,(god bless her) watches over the entire establishment from a bowling ball on the counter where her ashes are forever immortalized in her favorite past-time. A big screen hanging on the wall bridges the generational gap between post-war small town and technology that isn't going away any time soon.
Entering the cafe is like entering any other cafe in any other small town. Smells of coffee and food cooking assault the nostrils while the eye and brain rush to process all of the visual overload hanging on the walls. At the center of this whirling mass of color and Americana is 'the table'. It's the center, the sun, around which the small town universe revolves. It is the beating heart of any small town eatery; I refer to it as the 'old guys club'. Here are the over 50's who sit and bitch about the government, the weather and the aches and pains life has recently dealt them. They are good men who have served their country, worked hard, go to church and love their mommas. They are fathers, grand-fathers, brothers and uncles. They are the guys to go to when when you need your truck fixed or your roof patched. They are every man in every small American town.
As my husband introduces me around the table, it's a bit intimidating as each one stands in turn, offering a hand and a "nice to meet'cha". (And yes, they really do stand. Just like in the movies!) :)
The last man sits at the head of the table. Worn chambray shirt and dark cowboy hat, his skin is weathered and his eyes are bright and a little flirty. My female radar goes on high alert. Here's one of those my mother warned me about. He is a picture worth far more than a thousand words. That cowboy hat at an angle tells me he's ready to show a girl a good time. His smile is confident and genuine, meaning a girl is safe from bank robbers, rattlesnakes and rogue bronco's with him. He takes my hand and his is warm, firm and rough from honest work. But it isn't his hand that gets me, it's his eyes that catch and hold my attention. Narrowed from the sun, but clear and intense, he removes his hat and reverently says, "How do you do ma'am. It's a pleasure to meet you."
I think I melted into a puddle right there.
It was the heady mixture of flirtiness combined with just the right amount of reverance that made me want to sit down next to him, listen to his stories and laugh at his jokes.
My romantic 'write'-brain was already trying to break down his parts to define the summation that was the man. Which characteristic intrigued me more? The mischieveous challenge daring me to join the fun? Or the alpha male who would take charge, club the female over the head and drag her back to the cave? (Which would be completely unnecessary since apparently more than one female had gone quite willingly from what I would later understand.) Here was my quintessential cowboy! Suddenly, in less than eleven words I had a character bigger than Texas! Flirty? Yes. Handsome? Check. Respectful? Yep. Polite? Absolutely. I had a character that I could write thousands of words about and still never begin to define him!
I think that's the draw for me as a writer. It's like finding the Rosetta stone or Tut's tomb. Discovering one multi-layered individual that is the muse from which all others spring. A diverse palette comprised of the colors of life, where each layer, each color reveals a new depth, a new perspective of the soul. It's that depth that I seek to create, it's those layers I strive to show.
My friend 'Larry' says that 'all men are simple', and to a point, he's right. But all men are also complex in their simplicity (or maybe we females just make it that way?) but how can any one male epitomize so much of what we love about cowboy culture? Dedication, bravery, integrity, grit, determination, tenderness, protectiveness: These are not random qualities tossed about higgeldy-piggeldy, they are precisely measured elements that give us things we love and long for. Some of us females just happen to prefer them packaged in a cowboy hat.
Posted by Autumn Shelley