Judging the halter
Los Osos, Calif.
There always has been, and always will be, three types of people in this world: upper, middle and lower class. Another fact of life is that the middle and lower class folks will do almost anything to prove they are from a higher class, while the higher class folks do their darndest to keep the lower class folks down where they belong.
Social status is a simple fact of nature. I don’t know how they performed such tests but scientists found that multiple dogs will pee on the same post and each one will attempt to urinate higher up the post than the other dogs to show their superiority. This explains the odd, contortionist positions Dachshunds will often assume in trying to pee higher up a light pole than a German Shepherd or Great Dane.
Today there are dog snobs everywhere you look, and wristwatch snobs, and even bottled water snobs. if you drink from one of those square bottles that holds Fijian water you must be filthy rich. In an attempt to show their friends and neighbors how high up the post they are, people will pay fifty bucks for t-shirts with tiny alligators and polo players on them. They’ll splurge on Orvis fishing rods and never go fishing and buy expensive watches with all their inner guts showing so you can’t even read the time.
Snobbery is running rampant in this country as people try to separate themselves from their own kind by the cigars they smoke and the motorcycles they ride. People who are terrible cooks have $4,000 sub zero refrigerators, they burn their organic bacon on Wolf Ranges and store their collectible vino in wine refrigerators bigger than our kitchen. In Home Depot class warfare breaks out over which shows more class, granite or marble.
I find all these status seekers mildly annoying but especially jazz, art, wine and now days … the “unbeerable” beer snobs. It’s just beer folks, calm down. Even the town drunk wears a Polo shirt and drives a BMW, it seems. Sometimes all this snobbery and aloofness makes me hope their wine turns to vinegar, they discover their expensive art is a forgery and their granite cracks.
On the other hand, I shouldn’t be so mean because we all do it; judging people by what they consume, the car they drive and the clothes they wear. Back when I judged a few county fairs we called it “judging the halter.” The theory was whoever showed the animal with the most expensive halter also had the most expensive, and therefore the best, cattle or horse. I’m proud to say I never judged by the halter, no, the first thing I looked at was the belt buckle of the exhibitor. Successful exhibitors often wore a Grand Champion buckle, while the never-ran’s pants were falling down. Judging by the buckle doesn’t work any more because usually when you get close enough to read a diamond encrusted dinner-plate buckle, instead of denoting a winning calf roper or Grand Champion Steer, it is more apt to say, “Chairman, Long Range Planning Committee.”
One reason I was drawn to the cowboy lifestyle to begin with is that cowboys don’t put on airs. Whereas city folks are striving to be perceived as belonging to a higher class, cowboys usually take it down a notch. They don’t judge a person by how many x’es are in their hat, but by the size of the sweat stain around their hatband. Cowboys are not Polo-wearing, wine-sipping computer geeks and are far more impressed by the ability of a person’s dog to work a cow, if they can throw a houlihan and if said person knows how to shove a prolapse back where it belongs.
My idol as a kid was a millionaire rancher named Ralph who owned land in five area codes and yet he didn’t look like he had two nickels to rub together. When everyone else in town was trying to keep up with the Joneses, Ralph was shopping at Sears and picking up pennies. There were no lizards or polo ponies on Ralph’s faded flannel shirts either. Whenever a blueblood in our town would look down on Ralph because of his appearance, or his ways, Ralph would laugh and respond, “Heck, I’ve got bulls better bred than him.” ❖