Monday, October 11, 2010

The Cowgirl That Could

Inspired by a true story.
Written by Y.

As the sun highlighted the red on her hair, she walked towards me with the  distinct sound of the click-clacking of her cowboy boots. She had a burgundy- colored button up shirt, a medium-length white skirt with black embroidery at the edges and a pair of worn out black cowboy boots. I noticed the color coordination deficit in her choice of wardrobe, yes, but all of that will be non-sequitur with the moments to follow. 

As she walked towards me, I noted a mild slouch on her upper back, a constellation of  freckles on her forehead and her cheeks, and her hair which was coarse and long became even redder as she came closer. She had no make up on, not even a hint of “bare minerals” as they call it these days and with the click-clacking of her boots more audible than ever, my eyes fastened on to it and she noticed my paying of attention.
“I didn’t brang any other shoes so ah just had to wear it with my skhert.” She said to me about her boots. An authentic southern twang and sweetly uttered was what I heard. A bit embarrassed for my ocular intrusion, I rambled on to say
“Cool boots!” after having said the words, I wondered if I didn’t over 
compensate by sounding shrill.
“It’s worn out, but I forgot to brang a pair of shoes to go with this
here skhert.” She said again.
“Well, i think its awesome!” I said with a sincere smile because I really meant it.

The dynamic of what was happening here was simple. As I examined her, it became obvious that there was personality-envy on my part. Envy for this nameless cowgirl who did not care about the world where it stood. Her basic, earthy and happy self, devoid of the things and issues that beset, weigh down and sometimes betray the best of my kind. The sight of us standing face to face each other was contrast in motion for sure. Here I was Ms. Independent, network-conscious chick, who for example made it a point to use the French phrase “Je ne sais quoi”  in the proper context, in the presence of something genuine. "Genuine" here, was personified by a cowgirl who could guide a herd of cattle from one county line to the next, drive a tractor in a twenty-acre pasture with or without sunblock and tame a wild mustang if she had to. I felt defeated and vulnerable as I stood in front of her even if there was no competition taking place. Personally, I don’t respond to competitions or comparisons but today, for some reason, I weighed in on whether she had it better than I. Not in appearance or age but in life.

The cowgirl told me that she came from rural Morgan County which was a roughly 250 miles from where I live and meeting her in this Expo for state farmers, ranchers and other retailers was a breath of fresh air. She and her family were here to market their Angus Beef while I was a part of my employer’s entourage, who was the main sponsor for the Expo. Her handshake was not business-like, for what would it matter? But her coarse hand gave the impression that despite her youth, she could handle herself and her life’s situations just as easily as she walked with her boots. 

At this juncture, Chuck, the son of my employer and an unassuming gentleman who was about the same age as the cowgirl was giving a small speech to thank all the attendees for helping in the success of the Expo. After the speech, the cowgirl would pleasantly surprise me yet again when she walked forward to him with a shy and blushed face, politely said:
“Am not good at these thangs, but I think you spoke nice.” It was one of the sweetest introductions I’ve witnessed in a long time. In my world, this would be referred to as the pick-up line; and the game of bait and hook, predator and prey, would ensue, but in hers, it was good old fashioned meet and greet, no fuss, no muss, innocent and sweet. Would she be asked for a phone number? that’s not the point is it? the point is, today, Cowgirl came to the state auditorium, true to herself, not minding that she had mix-matched outfit, not caring that she did not have make up or new shoes to wear for the Expo. Today, Cowgirl came 250 miles from where she lives a real life to instruct me that there is meaning in her world, meaning in helping her daddy by the sweat of her brow; or perhaps being the second mother to her younger siblings when her mother is exhausted, that there is value in gathering a herd of cows or being a feeder of pigs, and still, there is sense in toughening up even more for when she grows up to face life by herself. And certainly, there is something endearing about approaching a boy with innocence and honesty. I was convinced that her University was better than mine.

I did not see that she would become jaded like I and my ilk have become – materialistic and dissatisfied. There is no explanation needed for who or what I am as a person next to this girl - I thought; at this moment it was just vital for me to understand that she is the antithesis of what I have become, especially in character. I did not see that Cowgirl would ever have the desire to peek at the runway shows in the metropolises and mind haute couture; no, I don’t think she would ever complain about the antenna problems of an iphone 4 or wonder whether she would look better driving an Infiniti G35 instead of a G37. On the contrary, I believe she will never be desensitized to the point that she wouldn’t allow drops of rain on her freckled face in the summer storm or be too prissy to run and tumble as she wrestles with a strong-willed mustang pony, or to laugh at herself when she falls on a puddle and muddy-up her Wranglers. Listening to her speak politely, bereft of pretenses, I realized something, with no more than 7 sentences uttered, the Cowgirl owned me - as they say these days. Just as I was immersed in these thoughts, I heard her speak with some boldness to the son of my employer.
“If you’re ever in Morgan County, just hang a left on county road 332, the second ranch is ours. Pa grills up a really good T-bone steak and I can make the meanest tater salad this side of the Mason-Dixon. This here is our callin’ card, I guess they call it, and there’s our telephone. It’d be an honor to have y’all.”
“Thank you.” Chuck said as he smiled. She too smiled and semi-bowed down politely as she took her leave. 

Perhaps, my employer’s son and I had different thought processes when we listened to the clicking of her boots as she walked away because both of us were fixed on her without saying anything. Mine was for the lessons learned and appreciation for what was basic, real and true and how I wanted to become best of friends with those words from this moment on. And Chuck’s?…quite frankly I didn't know why Chuck was staring.
“Ms. Sophie, do you think that girl just asked me out on a date?” My employer’s son asked me.
“It might have meant that Chuck.” I answered.
“She didn’t strike me as a girl that could do that.” Chuck said.
“Of course she can.” I said back, “She’s a cowgirl.”
We smiled again.

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