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Depressing Reasons Why "I" Failed as an American Cowboy

Updated on January 29, 2015
Doc Holliday -- dentist, gunslinger, and cowboy
Doc Holliday -- dentist, gunslinger, and cowboy

Warning to Single Girls:

Fans of the hit song, "Don't Fall In Love With a Dreamer," by Kim Carnes and Kenny Rogers will agree that the song hit home with people (like myself) who for a lot of years, spent a lot of time dreaming of "that" one moment that would propel them into "the" perfect life, wife, home, kids and fulfilling their one dream that had been a part of their hearts since birth.

Some realists argue long and hard that for someone, for lack of a better phrase, be in the right place at the right time, like some cosmic design, is nothing but pulp fantasy while others argue long and hard, with true evidence, that "this" event really happens.

Typical cowboy circa 1887
Typical cowboy circa 1887

A Cowboy Defined

  • A cowboy is an animal herder who tends cattle on ranches in North America, traditionally on horseback, and often performs a multitude of other ranch-related tasks. The historic American cowboy of the late 19th century arose from the vaquero traditions of northern Mexico and became a figure of special significance and legend. A subtype, called a wrangler, specifically tends the horses used to work cattle. In addition to ranch work, some cowboys work for or participate in rodeos. Cowgirls, first defined as such in the late 19th century, had a less-well documented historical role, but in the modern world have established the ability to work at virtually identical tasks and obtained considerable respect for their achievements. There are also cattle handlers in many other parts of the world, particularly South America and Australia, who perform work similar to the cowboy in their respective nations.
  • The cowboy has deep historic roots tracing back to Spain and the earliest European settlers of the Americas. Over the centuries, differences in terrain, climate and the influence of cattle-handling traditions from multiple cultures created several distinct styles of equipment, clothing and animal handling. As the ever-practical cowboy adapted to the modern world, the cowboy's equipment and techniques also adapted to some degree, though many classic traditions are still preserved today.

Source: WikiPedia Free Encyclopedia

I am not Ashamed to be a Dreamer

I may be a dreamer, even with the failures that accompany this title, I am not hiding in shame from this label: Dreamer.

Not that dreaming defines me, the person or any role that I have played in life. Dreaming fits into the schemes of life with an ease that does no harm to the dreamer or those around them. Dreaming in the right context, can be considered healthy, but if abused, can be dangerous. Many dreamers who didn't practice moderation lost jobs, homes, wives and that inner-drive that made them go forward, grasp and nurture their dreams.

I did this many times in a minimal sense. But "the" one most-embarrassing, degrading, and awful dream that went wrong was when I was 17, almost out of high school, and thinking foolishly that I was a real man--never fully-studying what the term "real" really meant in relation to being a man.

One Dream is All I Had

I had this secret dream of telling my parents that I was ready to leave home and well, do not laugh, pursue my dream of being a modern-day cowboy. Remember that this was in 1971 and cowboys were not a faded image in time. I really yearned to wear the denim, chaps, ten-gallon hat and have a horse named "Thor," and be a loner and when I needed money, work for successful ranchers and cattle producers "way out west."

I will not publish every foolish thing I tried and failed, but I will give you these painful things that make this piece and call it . . .

Depressing Reasons Why "I" Failed as an American Cowboy

Cowboy icons and other cowboy things

Rex Allen
Rex Allen
William Bonney a/k/a Billy the Kid
William Bonney a/k/a Billy the Kid
Bronc' bustin'
Bronc' bustin'
Artist, C.M. Russell's image of a typical cowboy
Artist, C.M. Russell's image of a typical cowboy
Chill Wills
Chill Wills
Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood
Gene Autry
Gene Autry
The "Duke," John Wayne
The "Duke," John Wayne

• I met this cowgirl named “Betsy.” We instantly liked each other, and began dating. One time she and I were riding together on my horse, “Buddy,” and we rode upon her pet dog, “Laze,” just sleeping on the ground. “Betsy,” teased him by yelling, “Giddy up!” And I mistook her command and dug my spurs into “Buddy’s” side and we did ‘giddy up.’ So much so that “Betsy” was thrown from “Buddy” and I knew if I stopped she would chew me out for sure, so I just kept “giddy upping.”

• Tried my hand at driving cattle one time. The trailboss gave me the night shift because I was a “green horn,” as he called me. Long about 10 p.m., the cattle were quiet and still. I thought it no harm to get down from “Buddy,” and pet one of the cows. It seemed the right thing to do. But before I could pet the bovine, I sneezed and before I could think a thought, the herd broke into a stampede. I was fired right away.

• I worked for this successful rancher, “Will Burlow,” and he told me to help his ranch hands with the spring branding of new calves. I did my best, but one time a ranch hand held down the calf for me to brand and I accidentally branded the ranch hand on the behind. I not only got my butt whipped, but fired almost immediately.

• I took a tour of a local saloon out of curiosity and this troublemaker said to me as I walked outside, “Hey, yellow belly! Want to have a gunfight?” I didn’t understand what me meant, so to look like I knew a few things about being a cowboy, I grabbed my Colt .45 and threw it at him to get in the first lick. He never drew his gun and fired at me for laughing at me so hard, he collapsed in the street.

• I was back in thissame saloon a few nights from then, and was feeling really lonely when this pretty saloon girl came over and asked me, “Hey, handsome. Want to go upstairs and talk?” And then she winked. I was no fool. I replied, “Good one, miss. But folks would laugh at me if I went upstairs and talked to myself.”

• The local sheriff was told to hang a bank robber that he had in his jail, so he and some other men built the gallows for the robber to be hanged. I happened to walk by the gallows when it was finished and noticed this perculiar-looking rope swing at the top. No one was looking, so I ran to the top of the gallows and tried my hand at swinging in this strange rope swing. Then “Clem Gypsum,” a local windbag saw me and yelled, “Hey, idiot! You are supposed to place your neck in the look to get it to work.” I woke up in two days. “Clem” succeeded in making me look like a fool.

• I was running out of faith in being a real cowboy, so to another rancher, “Bill Billistone,” hired me to do some bronc’ busting. It seemed easy enough, so I agreed. Upon my first day, I was cursed out by “Billistone,” and fired. I asked him why? He said, “You fool! You do not “bust” a bronco by throwing rocks at him.”

• One Saturday night, a drover who had drank too much asked me, “Hey, coward! Do you want some redeye?” “Sure thing,” I said to show him I was a man. Soon as the words left my mouth, he floored me with his right hand giing me a RED eye.

• I learned quickly that cacti are not meant for picking as floral arragements to give to girls.

• I also learned quickly that Diamond Back rattlesnakes are not humble reptiles that God created for holding in one’s hnd and rattling to keep a baby from crying.

• A sickening-lesson I learned was knowing that snuff is not chocolate to be placed in your lip.

• Another food-realted lesson I was taught was taught to me by “Danny Newcomb,” a cattle drover who, for some reason, did not like me. One day he came up to me and said, “Hey, try some of this new western candy I got from back east,” to to make peace, I took the green candy from his hand, put some in my mouth and turns out it was Mexican pepper. The last thiing I recall is hearing him and his horse laughing as I collapsed in the street.

• A few days from then, “Danny” came up to me and said, “To show you how sorry I am for making a mistake in giving you that Mexican pepper, I want you to be the first to be first on the new ride I just discovered.” I agreed for at least he was trying to be a good sport. The new “ride” was him tying a rope around my ankles and dragging me through the street.

I left for home the next morning.

"If" I had succeeded as an American cowboy, I would have had my own show with a sponsor such as . . .


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    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Genna,

      Thank you so much. I have never been told this and I appreciate you so much. I hope that in the future, I can produce hubs that will measure up to YOURS, Genna.

      Have a wonderful night.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Ken, a delightful read from beginning to end. :-)

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      I will. Thank you, my friend. I mean that to.

    • Gawth profile image

      Ron Gawthorp 

      3 years ago from Millboro, Virginia

      Write when inspired! Good luck! Write on!

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, vkwok,

      You are one of my best friends and supporters. Thank you and I ask God to bless you in a 1,000 ways, my friend.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      Thank YOU so much for your uplifting remarks. I am thinking about tapering-off of hubs when warm weather arrives. I have bought a nice portable building and I am excited about going into the birdhouse business.

      Or I could write at night.

      Please pray for me to have God's guidance.

      And visit me again.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 

      3 years ago from Hawaii

      Another great hub, Kenneth!

    • Gawth profile image

      Ron Gawthorp 

      3 years ago from Millboro, Virginia

      This is the funniest thing I have read in years. Made awesome I suspect by my own unrealized dreams.


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