Are these real cowboys or just models playing dress-up? I know a little bit about each of the men, enough to know they're rugged masculine guys comfortable with doing physical labor. They're not afraid to work up a sweat and get their hands dirty.
Ordinary men dressed up like cowboys look silly, but rugged, muscular men in jeans, boots, and cowboy hats catch your eye, even if they couldn't rope a steer. Crowds part to let fellows like these pass. They are made of deeds, not words. They are rugged, strong, and fearless. They are gods amongst us.
In the American pantheon of legends, cowboys are some of our modern-day gods. Like cops, soldiers, and firemen, they have their own special mystique and masculine appeal. I recently had a connecting flight that stopped in a Southwest city to drop off and receive more passengers. My heart skipped a beat when a strapping, towering man of about thirty in cowboy casual dropped into the seat beside me.
He spoke all of about four sentences in his deep, sonorous voice during the 90-minute final leg of the flight. He wore no cologne but gave off an appealing odor of clean laundry, soap, and the great outdoors mixed with a hint of sweat. His thick fingers and muscular hands were scarred and calloused. His scuffed boots and the cuffs on his well-worn jeans had a fine dusting of dried earth. He was no model, no poseur; he was the real thing.
After we landed, because I am only of average height, I was struggling to get my bag from the overhead compartment. The silent cowboy reached in with one easy tug and dropped it on the set in front of me. He never spoke a word and only proffered the slightest nod when I said "thanks."
But I wasn't thanking him just for retrieving my luggage. I was thanking him for the honor of basking in his presence. And I suspect he knew that.