Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 9-9-13

Gwen Petersen
Big Timber, Mont.

End of summer. Almost end of Tourist Season. Children in the tourist mix are back in school leaving the first month of fall to the not-getting-any-younger group. If you live in or near a small Out West town, part of the entertainment for us local yokels is watching the strolling tourists. Part of the entertainment for the strolling tourists is scrutinizing the locals especially if said local is wearing a cowboy hat. Kindly refrain from a wrong impression. We love tourists. They drop lovely batches of moola in town and state coffers.

Tourists like to walk up and down the two blocks of main street shopping in stores that sell quaint doo-dads; they look for souvenir cowboy hats and tee shirts in the one and only department store; they browse in the high-end clothing and jewelry store. And the guns/gas/and gew-gaws emporium does a thriving business.

Tourists are first-rate gawkers at cowboys, cowgirls, horses, dogs, eagles, coyotes, wolves, bears, antelope, cattle, sheep and the Yellowstone River. No doubt about it, tourists are superb eyeballers. They gawk at the dead heads mounted on the walls of the local hotel and bar. They take photos of same. They “Skype” them back to whoever’s on the other end of the Skype.

The local drug store and museum stock postcards depicting many of the above mentioned critters photographed against a background of mountain vistas. Plus “humorous” cards such as the one showing a moustached cowboy on a horse. On the left side of said card is a list:

Top 10 Signs You’re From Montana

10. You wonder why anyone would pay to see a bear.

9. Your car is a 4×4 pickup.

8. You not only know what greenies are … your cowboy boots ’ve got ’em.

7. You think $100 is a heck of a lot of money.

6. You think your pickup will hold one more piece of firewood.

5. Your favorite steak is elk, and your favorite wine comes in a can.

4. You think 75 above is way too hot and 30 below is only a little bit on the cool side.

3. You think Charlie Russell is the best artist there ever was.

2. Your closet holds 15 guns and one sport coat. And you need a couple more guns.

1. And the number one sign you’re from Montana: Your fishing buddy runs off with your wife … you wonder how the heck you’re going to get along without his boat.

Top Ten Signs You’re a Tourist

(Not From Montana)

10. You will actually PAY to see a bear, ride a horse or float a river.

9. Your vehicle is an automatic two-wheel drive automobile and you don’t know how to drive a stick-shift.

8. You think “greenies” has something to do with being environmentally correct.

7. You think $100 to stay overnight in a motel is a reasonable price.

6. Your vehicle has never hauled firewood, a saddle, a post pounder, wads of bale string, haybales, rolls of fence wire or empty beer cans.

5. You have never eaten deer, elk, buffalo or antelope steak. (None of these taste like chicken).

4. You wear a sweater in 75 above weather.

3. You have never seen a Charlie Russell painting, post card or calendar … till now.

2. You don’t own any artillery nor do you carry a Swiss Army knife in your pocket or a Leatherman on your belt.

1. And the number one sign that you’re a tourist visiting Montana … you are driving a motor home with an automobile (often with bicycles clamped to the bumper) trailering behind like a calf following its mama. ❖