Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cowgirl UP!

In today's modern era, what does it take to be a Real Cowgirl?

Beyond the obvious. Sure, it's a heck of a lot easier to be a Real Cowgirl if one is in possession of any combination of the following:

1. A Horse (preferably with a western saddle)
2. Large Tracts of Real Estate west of the Mississippi River, especially those that are edged by miles and miles of barbed wire fences.
3. Cattle
4. A Pick-Up Truck (and not one of those mutant poser ones with a opalescent ivory finish that's never earned its mud flaps, either. A *real* truck. Gun rack optional.) As an alternative, a Suburban is the only allowable SUV, and it better have a damn hitch on it.
And, of course, the clincher in the deal:
5. A Cowboy (bonus points if he says "Ma'am" with a tip of his hat to your mother every time he sees her.)

If you have more than two of those things, you are fully licensed to say things like "I'm fixin' to brand some cattle" or "Let's RIDE" and if anyone even thinks of smirking at you, you get to kick them in the shins with your cowgirl boots (authentic manure optional).

Alas, there may come a point when some amongst us long to be a Real Cowgirl but meet exactly none of the prerequisite Cowgirl requirements.

Alas. I long to be a Real Cowgirl. And I got nothing.

I used to be able to fudge the requirements. I grew up on a tract of real estate west of the Mississippi River. True, it was only 8 acres in the middle of a heavily wooded forest and had minimal fencing, but it was, in fact, land in the West. I didn't own a horse, it's true, but I mucked stables and groomed horses for some wonderful women who lived on the other side of the valley for the whole entirety of my teen-aged years. They paid me in peanuts and horseback rides. I rode English dressage, true, but I also rode Western and bareback (although these days, my inner thighs weep at the thought.) That, to me, was close enough to being a Real Cowgirl that I wore cowboy boots in public, on and off, for several years before Garth Brooks hit it big with all his friends in low places.

No more. I live on the east of the muddy Mississippi now. I haven't been on a horse since my honeymoon. I married an accountant. (But at least he grew up on a farm. He's got some street cred.) The largest beast I own weighs 15 pounds and only has three legs. (Although Gater is taller, he technically weighs less. Jake's got that dachshund barrel chest.) For Heaven's sake, I drive a Prius.

In other words, there is nothing--and I mean nothing--about me that is any part of a Real Cowgirl. The best I could do was some modestly lovely turquoise jewelery. That's it.

Which is, in my opinion, sort of a problem. I write New Western romance novels. Novels that prominently feature a real cowboy/girl as a hero/ine. Why would anyone want to read New Western books by a non-cowgirl? Wouldn't that be like listening to my grandmother do a hockey play-by-play?

So it's not that I want to be a Real Cowgirl (although I do). I need to be one.

So I'm Cowgirling Up. Fake it until I make it, baby!

It started with the hat.

It fills me with great shame to admit that this hat is, in fact, my father's hat, purchased almost 20 years ago on a family vacation out west. (He also bought boots, but those didn't fit me.) Yes. My head is the same size as my father's head. I'm not sure why this strikes me as a personal failure of femininity, but it does. Bigtime.

Anyway, the hat fit, and he gave it to me. Phase one in Cowgirling Up: Complete.

But here's the thing. I didn't have anything else. And I'm pretty sure that, whilst a Cowgirl could wear boots without a hat (see any Miley Cyrus video for proof), a Real Cowgirl does not wear a hat without boots. Like it would match my Birkenstock sandals, anyway.

Finally, after combing the Internet, bugging our local western wear store incessantly, and wondering why cowgirls all have such narrow feet, I found a pair of cowboy boots that fit.

Yes, I said cowboy. Not cowgirl. A girl's got to do what a girl's got to do. It's still got cow in the title, right? And my Fashion Stylist (aka my sister Leah) said the stitching was 'purty' enough.

Making progress now! Phase two complete!

But I needed some more 'purty.' After all, I've got a man's hat and men's boots. Time for Phase Three: Accessories.

Phase Three, I love you. And our love affair will continue . . . Oops. I digress.

First, a hatband:

Christmas present from my Gram. Thanks, Gram!

Then, the belt.

Christmas present from my mom and dad. Thanks, guys!

Jeans? Check.

Christmas present from my dogs. I'd thank them if they would understand it.

Hell, I wear jeans all the time anyway. And these even had 'bootcut' in the description. Yes, I know. They aren't Wrangler. They are a Mall Brand. But I got news for you. I'm, ahem, a whole lot of woman to love, being slightly taller and, um, wider than the average woman. I had to go with best fit, okay? These came in tall. And trust me, men's jeans would NOT work in this situation.

Add in a nice top with some pin tucking (look it up!), and now we're cooking.

Another gift from my folks. They're wonderful folks.

I'll admit, the top is plain. Some of the shirts I covet at my local western wear store are, um, bold. Flashy, even. It appears Real Cowgirls all have love affairs with Phase Three. I'm taking this one step at a time. All in due time, Rhinestones. All in due time.

And finally, necklaces.

Necklace picked out by my Fashion Stylist. Earrings, get this, Actually Picked Out By ME.

Real Cowgirl Transformation: Complete!

So, tune in next week, when I will have planned far enough ahead to actually put the whole outfit together AND have my husband take a picture of it for me BEFORE he leaves for work on blogging day.

After all, even a Real Cowgirl knows the value of a little tease.

Now. Anybody got a horse I can borrow?


Anonymous said...

Sorry, no horse, But, ever considered a (Ford) Mustang? I had a convertible one for a couple of years, and, let me tell you, they really make a cowgirl smile.

Sarah M. Anderson said...

I will take a Mustang, no problem. Preferably from the sixties.

Blythe Gifford said...

A woman after my own heart. I don't own the boots, but I'm way partial to the turquoise jewelry. I'll send on all my catalogs...Sounds as if you're ready to take your author photo!

Sarah M. Anderson said...

Oooh, I do love turquoise, Blythe, especially the stones with a greenish tone to them. And I'm working my way up to Author Photo! An on-going debate about the role of The Hat in the Author Photo is occurring between Stylist Factions, aka my sisters.

C. said...

I live in Calgary, home of the Stampede. One of the most popular night spots is called, no joke, Cowboys. By what twist of fate the skater punk girl ended up here is just irony. I pitch a fit every year about the rodeo. The amount of animal injury in the chuck-races is just awful.

Mary D. said...

The only horses I have access to are Halflingers, which will indeed make your inner thighs weep. There's also one stubborn mule, but he's just too ornery. At least you look the part.

Sarah M. Anderson said...

Mary, I bet I would look petite and svelte next to those Halflingers. And Crystal, we went to a local rodeo--it's lots of fun to drag your vegetarian husband to a rodeo. He's (not) really looking forward to more of those when I start promoting the rodeo book (once it sells, of course). They just rode bulls at ours, though.

lucylucia said...

I.LOVE.THOSE.EARRINGS. Tell me where you got them Sally!!

I've been thinking of boots too - I hear they are super comfy. Tell us how they feel when you wear them!!

Sarah M. Anderson said...

Lucy, I bought those in Boulder, CO. during Han's wedding week. And the boots . . . we're still breaking each other in. The right one has this crease across my big toe that I think has bruised my bone. Cowboy boots are not for the faint of heart!

Carolyn said...

I do so want to hear my Mom call a hockey game.........but she would have to go some to beat Charlie at it..............

Heidiwriter said...

I love your blog! You go, Cowgirl! After all, Cowgirl is a state of mind. I grew up on a ranch but live in suburbia now, haven't been on a horse in probably 20 years. But I also write books about cowgirls--so, we have some things in common!

Sarah M. Anderson said...

Mom, you just like to hear the kid say all the hockey players go into time out! And Heidi, it's ALL about the Cowgirl State of Mind!