Over the past couple of decades the term “the cowboy way” has come into popular use in humor. I have used it, my friends have used it. We smile and laugh about it. Like The Riders in the Sky, Too Slim, says, “It’s not the easy way,” then, Woody Paul and Ranger Doug chime in with “but it’s the cowboy way!”
I’ll be the first to admit that often the cowboy way is to be impulsive, daredevil, and without regard for convention. The result of which is that cowboys are cast in a court jester, or reckless light, both in word and action. However there is another side to the cowboy way. It’s kind of like the song by Ed Bruce sums it up in “Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.” There’s this oxymoron-like, unlikely connection between the buffoon and a person who loves nature, respects women, children, animals and senior citizens. The cowboy certainly has humor, but at times he is also a deep and innovative thinker. And without being boastful (most of the time) pursues a complex, difficult, and often dangerous skill-set, in order to care for livestock. This often requires a mental and physical toughness which can come across as surliness or taciturnity. The truth is that cowboys are people. They are mostly agricultural workers who are good hearted easy-going folk who believe in God, country, apple pie, and respect for women, children, and older folks – and their horse!