I Used to be a Cowboy

I used to be a cowboy, ranch raised and rodeo bred
With visions of the Finals thundering in my head
Oh, I’ve still got the fever; I’ve got it still today
Anyone who’s rode the rough stock knows that stuff don’t go away

But some of you might wonder what drove me from the game
Was it pure humiliation, the piling on of shame?
Like dropping rein on a saddle bronc with the chute gate open wide
Or spurring off a Hereford steer any five year old could ride?

Nah, that weren’t it, nor were the endless wrecks
Not even broncs that I missed out and cost myself a check
Hanging up in bull ropes, concussion, punctured lung
Were all part of the melody in the song I wanted sung

It weren’t like I hadn’t paid my dues, at least regarding pride
Cowboys didn’t count me out on any bull until they saw me ride
My photo made the Sports News in nineteen sixty-five
Winning it all at Pleasant Grove and coming out alive

I never turned a critter out, no matter what the rep
Chute fighters terrified me but I tried them every step
Every time when it was time I really had to urinate
But I just sucked it up and tied a knot and nodded for the gate

So what lowdown disaster did make this cowboy quit
When he was living the dream he’d had inside since he was just a kid?
In truth I must admit it, though it’s painful as can be
The dirty dog that did me in was called…RESPONSIBILITY!

I was really riding saddle broncs in the fall of sixty-two
Slipping rein and hooking well and winning quite a few
Yet instead of heading south and working hard to keep my winning streak
I went on back to college and worked toward my degree

By the time next spring had rolled around, the layoff laid me low
No longer could I slip a rein and my reflexes were slow
I’d lacked the dedication to the rowdy cowboy ball
Picking up a piece of paper to decorate my wall

That should have told me something, but I was in denial
Rodeoing hard that summer and dreaming all the while
Of making it to the Finals where I’d be ultra cool
I even went up north that fall to attend Bull Riding School

It was looking like I had a chance to get right in the arena
Till Uncle Sam sent me a notice, next thing to a subpoena
Military service, ’cause freedom isn’t free
Dadblast that solid inner core of responsibility!

Why could I not ignore the rest of this thing that we call life?
Blessed I was with Vicky (my first of seven wives)
Who loved life on the circuit with a camera in her hands
Watching her young cowboy ride from the comfort of the stands

Excuses? I had zero, and once while home on leave
I married up with more success than I could quite believe
Rodeo circuit honeymoon, won a lot of coin
Enough to make the Finals if I could have just kept going

But back to don the uniform, I’d used the time I’d got
The Army cut that season off by really quite a lot
From there the ride was all downhill, away from bucking chutes
It took two tries to fully quit, retire my riding boots

When I knew the dance was over and I finally quit for real
Necktie choking office job to support the family deal
With two engaging daughters whose growth I chose to see
I used to be a cowboy; curse that darned Responsibility!

4 thoughts on “I Used to be a Cowboy

  1. Nice job, Ghost. Responsibility can really get in the way of a number of childhood dreams… in my case it was my music career: I wasn’t willing to walk away from college in the first try, and my children on the second… no regrets, though, since God’s plan has been a much better ride than what I ever could have dreamed of! 🙂
    Manny

  2. No argument there, Manny. It did take a number of decades to make the adjustment, but other than that….

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