Great Day to You, Friday Fun Facters!
Congratulations!: Jim Thome, DH for the Minnesota Twins, for hitting his 600th home run earlier this week to become only the 8th Major Leaguer to do it in baseball history! Congrats to your hard work, effort, endurance, & character.
Belated Birthday Wishes: The Committee would like to notify casual observers ChrisU & JimL that they both respectively celebrated birthdays last Friday. Our apologies for the editing snafu. The Friday Fun Fact Quality Team is investigating this incident for future episodes. We trust & hope that you both had wonderful birthdays.
I was getting ready to take a walk one day with my Romanian fugitive friend. (Special Note I: OK, he really isn’t a fugitive, but this is one of those “poetic license” scenarios where a mild exaggeration can enhance the flavor of the story, as well as readership curiosity.) As I asked him if he was ready to go out & about, I added the word “cowboy” to the end of my question. My question went something like this:
Are you ready to hit it, cowboy?
His reaction & response were pretty much immediate:
Cowboy?! I’m not a cowboy.
Almost like, how could I accuse him of such a thing?! It’s preposterous!
I reckon it’s not the first time I’ve heard this response & coinciding reaction to my use of this word & terminology. I’ve used the expression from time to time. It sparked a question for me:
When did the term “cowboy” become derogatory?
Did it start with the Willie & Waylon classic “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys?”
“Let ‘em be doctors and lawyers and such…”
What’s so wrong with being a cowboy?!
Well, apparently, our crack FFF Research Team has found out that the term was indeed originally a derogatory term!
The word “cowboy” is also used in a negative sense. Originally this derived from the behavior of some cowboys in the boomtowns of Kansas, at the end of the trail for long cattle drives, where cowboys developed a reputation for violence and wild behavior due to the inevitable impact of large numbers of cowboys, mostly young single men, receiving their pay in large lump sums upon arriving in communities with many drinking and gambling establishments.
“Cowboy” is sometimes used today in a derogatory sense to describe someone who is reckless or ignores potential risks, irresponsible or who heedlessly handles a sensitive or dangerous task.
In the easternUnited States, “cowboy” as a noun is sometimes used to describe a fast or careless driver on the highway.
However, as it best suits the Friday Fun Fact belief system of journey in the pursuit of existential happiness, we here at the Command Center this perspective:
Despite its modern implications of sage-brush, cactus and the high chaparral, cowboy was first used inEnglandin the 1620s. There is, however, a genuinely American equivalent and that is cow-hand, a word from the 1850s which has no suggestion of derogation about it. Most of us derive our impressions of the old West from Western movies, none of which accurately depict the demographics of the times. Most cowboys were Mexican and, of the remainder, a large proportion was African-American. In fact, two entire regiments of the western US Cavalry were African-American – the legendary “buffalo soldiers”. The Mexican contribution to cowboy culture is readily apparent when we examine some of its terminology. What word is more redolent of the “Wild West” than buckaroo? Yet buckaroo (first recorded in 1827) is merely a mispronunciation of the Spanish vaquero (literally “cow-man”, ultimately from Latin vacca, “a cow”).
To additionally support this perspective, the Research Team came up with some valid points of interest:
- Are the Dallas Cowboys not self-monikered as “America’s Team?!” (Special Note II: Although, we could make the argument that they are not “America’s Team” outside of their own self-created concept.)
- Do you think Mr. Dirty Harry would have played so many cowboys in movies if it wasn’t cool to be one?!
- Didn’t Jon Bon Jovi interpret the term as a positive & romantic reflection of the cowboy persona in the song “Wanted Dead or Alive?!
If you need further proof that cowboys are still good guys, think about this:
The imagery of the western cowboy has long endured. We’ve gone from playing “Cowboys & Indians” as kids to “Cowboys & Aliens!”
And, would Harrison Ford dare play a cowboy in two different characters, separated by three decades-worth of cinematic adventures?!
We think not!
It’s time for me to put on my boots & hat, and hit the trail.
In the immortal words of the great American philosopher, Jon Bon Jovi, “Ride, Cowboy, Ride”…
Tunes of the Week:
My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys – Willie Nelson
Mommas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys
-Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings (Original by Ed Bruce)
Frontier Justice – Ronna Reeves
Should’ve Been A Cowboy – Toby Keith
Cowboy – Kid Rock
Cowboys From Hell – Pantera
This Is Where The Cowboy Rides Away –GeorgeStrait
Wanted Dead Or Alive – Bon Jovi
Happy Trails – Van Halen
Raise A Glass & “Bend An Elbow!”
May Your Friday Be Followed By A “Go West, Young Man” Saturday!
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