The Cowboy


When my son was 4 years old he dreamed of being a cowboy. Naturally I assumed that this was some romantic, childish notion, like wanting to be Superman or Batman. I suspected that once he realized that there were no cows in the vicinity of our home in the middle of town, he would abandon this dream and reach for something more attainable.


This thought didn't stop me from buying him a cowboy hat for Christmas; dreams, no matter how unlikely to come to fruition, are to be nurtured and should never be walked upon. He wore the hat while riding a stick horse, upon which he used plastic spurs that were attached to the backs of his size 5 Western boots. He was, in a word, adorable.


Over the years I watched, somewhat sadly, as the stick horse was replaced with a skateboard. The Western boots were replaced with Nike's and the dream of becoming a cowboy, was forgotten ... at least by me.


When my kids were teenagers, my husband and I decided to sell our city home and move to the country. We purchased land and a house, and without further ado, moved lock, stock, and barrel, to a rural property that was virtually surrounded by cows, unwittingly resurrecting my son's cowboy dream.


I listened, appalled, as he described nights spent sleeping under the stars, snatching calves from the jaws of panthers, and bears, and teaching his horse tricks to make to the townsfolk smile. Apparently a dream at 13 is every bit, if not more vivid, than a dream at 4, and it was glaringly apparent that the dream had not been abandoned, but had simply been stagnant until an environment with cows had been provided.


“I'm going to John's to spend the weekend,” he announced one Friday evening, “to help him and his dad with the round-up.”


“On a horse?”


“No, Mom, on a tricycle ... of course, on a horse!”


He left me then, chewing my nails. Cowboys get lost, get trampled by cows, bitten by snakes. There were no cowboy lawyers, no presidents that used to be cowboys. I worried myself sick until Saturday afternoon, when I received the phone call.




“You have the wrong number,” I said.


“Bob! It's Bee!”


“I'm not Bob, and I don't know anyone named Bee,” I said, somewhat defensively.


“Bob, it's your son!”


“Why are you calling me Bob?”


“My head's all plugged up. John's dad says I'b allergic to horse hair. Would you cub get be?”


I drove, clutching the wheel, my heart soaring, until I saw his face, that reeked of disappointment and sadness. He sat quietly as we rode, his chin in his lap.


“Honey,” I said, my heart aching for him, “there's always Benadryl.”


His head came up and he pasted eyes on me that were filled with shining hope and gratitude. As I said before, dreams, no matter how unlikely to come to fruition, should be nurtured ... and never walked upon.