I've been slowly working my way through the archive and have spent much of today in August 2004 on 5M's trip to Calgary. She had quite the fascination with Cowboys. After seeking them everywhere she finally came to this conclusion:

I am the Cowboy. I have to cultivate Cowboy qualities myself - independence, strength, focus, balance, etc. The Cowboy is my animus. He is everything I'm looking for, but all I have to develop in order to feel whole. I think of him as representing, in large part, the part of myself that has been driven out by academia and urban living.

This makes me think of the story Stephen Wright tells:
One day I got on the usual bus, and when I stepped in, I saw the most gorgeous blond Chinese girl... I sat beside her. I said, "Hi," and she said, "Hi," and then I said, "Nice day, isn't it?," and she said, "I saw my analyst today and he says I have a problem." So I asked, "What's the problem?" She replied, "I can't tell you. I don't even know you..." I said, "Well sometimes it's good to tell your problems to a perfect stranger on a bus." So she said, "Well, my analyst said I'm a nymphomaniac and I only like Jewish cowboys... By the way, my name is Denise." I said, "Hello, Denise. My name is Bucky Goldstein...".


coyote said...

Morning, 4th Dwarf. Your archival findings and the Stephen Wright story, seem to hit the proverbial nail...

I have a certain acquaintance with cowboys. I admit it to have been a resentfully slanted one at times. Some cowboys have tended to regard me as a pest, worthy of poison bait, or a couple of quick pops from a long gun with a lever action.

5M, and a lot of other, people see cowboys as iconic ideals, and she's attracted to 'em on that level. Hell, I like a good cowboy movie myself. Too bad there are so few drive-ins on the prairies anymore. There's a powerful amount of cool mythology surrounding cowboys, and some of it may actually be based in fact. But much is based on old Marlboro ads, what used to be called 'yaller back novels', and Hollywood's considerable ability to bend a story. And (hey!) most of the H'wood guys who wrote cowboy roles probably never even saw a real one. Roy Rogers or Tom Mix may have had cowboy backgrounds at one point, but they weren't exactly the real article anymore after a bunch of years of pretending. All that white fringe, turquoise, and silver concha horse jewellery was the stuff they saved for movies & parades. And the name that Roy was born with was Leonard Sly.

The cowboy reality is somewhat different, and a lot rarer than it used to be. You can take my word for this because I'm a very, very old coyote. Prehistoric, in fact.

At the turn of the century, cowboys dressed in everything from bowler hats and cheap suits to overalls, went unwashed for great periods of time, had bad teeth, and tended in the main not to be deeply philosophical. A lot of 'em were casually racist, and few thought much about their philosophical connection with the great outdoors. A goodly lot were illiterate, or close to.

Unlike the John Wayne/Clint Eastwood ideal of a taciturn guy-of-action with a mid-western drawl and unplumbed depths of emotion, quite a few of 'em in the Calgary area had posh Brit accents. That's because they were what we useta call 'remittance men'. This translates to being a son not first in line to inheriting the family estate in Blighty, often with embarrassing social proclivities that caused the head of the family to ship 'em off to the colonies and blackmail 'em out of sight with a monthly allowance that would be permanently revoked if they ever attempted to blacken the shores of Albion again. Often, said cheque was drunk dry as soon as it arrived. You may surmise from the foregoing, that the remittance man was a royal screw-up with a liver on the verge of giving up the ghost...

Now, there were many hardworking cowboys out there. Some may have been in tune with nature. But for most it was a hard, dull job that didn't pay too well. Kinda like farming, but with more bruising horsey rides and fewer hot meals.

The M*se is attracted to myths. Okay, fine. But, being a minor new-world mythical character myself, I can safely say that anyone meeting me in person would find me most unlike my advance billing. I say that despite the fact that I (obviously) like myths. They're wonderful things, yet there are cautions.

I agree with what I think 4th Dwarf is implying. By all means, if a myth works for you, go with it. But be aware that myths have only slight grounding in reality. It's not a good thing on which to base a relationship. If one tries to superimpose one's pre-conceived mythic ideals on real people, they probably won't match them. And watch out for Bucky Goldstein. He's a lot more ubiquitous than the real thing. It doesn't take a mythic trickster to smell a fraud artist coming, but your eyes need to be open.

4th Dwarf said...

Another underlying subtext in the Bucky Goldstein story is that many men will use any information they have to tell a woman what she wants to hear so they can get into her pants.

A woman who writes all her thoughts into a public blog makes herself a target for this practice.

On another note, perhaps the ESIs could start a new category "Overheard in Ottawa". Here is my first submission:

On the #14 Bus, Sat. May 14 ~6pm
Youngish Computer Guy to another: "I'm going to take what I learned at Rogers to Roadrunner and rule that call centre."

Agatha said...

Thanks for moving us into the realm of cowboys, 4th Dwarf. I think we needed that. One of our independent observers has commented that we have become self-referential of late, which I think was a polite way of calling us a bunch of wankers.
Your new picture is quite fetching. What's next? A name change? I like the "Overheard in Ottawa" idea. I'm going to start taking the bus.

4th Dwarf said...
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4th Dwarf said...

Who be this anonymous observer? I'll keelhaul the backstabbin' dog!

As fer bein' self-referential, I nay be clear what th' accusation be about.

T'ain't part o' th' point o' our readin' th' 5M t' be seein' how her words apply t' our own lives?

Should we not ask can th' lass' quest fer love carry a lesson fer our own quests?