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Reel to real

Cowboys can be divided into three basic types: 1) Rodeo cowboys, 2) movie and TV cowboys and 3) real cowboys. (Thank goodness we don’t have to worry about urban cowboys and disco cowboys anymore.) Actually, rodeo cowboys are real cowboys too and often either come from a ranch background or are just trying to win enough money to buy a ranch someday and settle down. So we are left with REAL cowboys and REEL cowboys.

• Real cowboys are named Ty, Trevor, Tuff or Stetson while John Wayne’s real name was Marion and Roy Roger’s moniker was actually Leonard Slye. Real cowboys don’t have to change their name.

• Movie cowboys are almost always seen wearing gloves with silver-covered gauntlets whereas genuine cowboys only wear gloves when they are stringing barb wire, their hands are freezing or they are handling a branding iron.



• A real cowboy’s spurs are made of silver while his wife goes barefooted.

• A movie or TV cowboy is handed his coffee by an assistant, “iced, venti, with five pumps of vanilla, seven pumps of caramel, four Splenda and poured, not shaken.” A real cowboy gets his own coffee that’s so thick it will float a horseshoe. He’s never tasted escargot or caviar.



• Hollywood cowboys are careless with their guns (Alec Baldwin) and wear double buscadero gun rigs. Regular cowboys might have a rifle in a scabbard to shoot varmints or a pistol in their pommel bags to shoot rattlers.

• True cowboys aren’t members of the Screen Actors Guild and the only thing they have in common with Will Smith is that they aren’t members of the Academy of Motion Pictures either.

• An honest to goodness cowboy is bow-legged, sleeps in his long handled underwear, smells like a horse and lives on beans and beef. He has no need for a makeup artist and has never had a pedicure.

• Reel cowboys go to work when the lighting is right whereas real cowboys work from dawn to dusk. Real cowboys never go to their room during the day and they don’t wear pajamas or lounging jackets.

• Authentic cowboys wear belt buckles they won at a rodeo or a roping. Fake cowboys get their buckles from the prop department.

• TV cowboys like Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger and The Rifleman all had their own lunch pails that are now sold in antique stores. Bona fide cowboys don’t eat lunch.

• Cowboy stars live in Hollywood or on the beach in Malibu. John Wayne, for instance, lived on the beach in Newport. Honest-to-goodness cowboys live on ranches 30 miles outside of nowhere. They don’t own a chalet near Vail or a 20,000 square foot log home in Montana.

• When they’re not on the movie set film cowboys wear Rolex, Cartier, or Patek Philippe wristwatches. Real cowboys don’t wear wristwatches and can tell you the time without one.

• Old movie cowboys never remove their hat so we won’t see their hair plugs. A regular cowboy removes his hat in church, when he sees the American flag or at a funeral.

• When an authentic cowboy empties his pockets you’ll see a pocketknife, a can of chew and enough hay to feed his horse for a week. The pockets of movie cowboys are stuffed with cash.

• A non-fictional cowboy can can throw a Houlihan and rope a cow in brush so dense the Hollywood version couldn’t crawl through. A real cowboy knows you never grab the bridle on another man’s horse. The real version never shot a man, rode his horse into a bar, never chased a rustler across the Rio Grande or saved a damsel in distress who was tied to the railroad tracks. He’s never used valet parking or received a standing ovation and the only honor he wants is the respect of his fellow cowpunchers. Wherever he goes he is followed by at least one dog, a banker and perhaps an ex-wife. A movie cowboy is followed by a financial adviser, an agent and an entourage, who wear designer jeans and are scared of horses. A real cowboy faces real danger on a daily basis and never needs a stunt double.

• The only way a regular cowboy will get into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City is to buy a ticket.

Lee Pitts

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