McGee: Cowboy hats take getting used to

Grant McGee

I got to thinking about cowboy hats the other day.

Well, I should make myself clear; as a long-time resident of The West I know that they’re not “cowboy hats,” they are simply hats. This was shared with me by a real working cowboy from Chaves County, Cowboy Mike.

Let me back up and explain. I was a newly arrived radio announcer at a station in Roswell. I was so excited to be in The West I was gushing over the air that I couldn’t wait to get my first pair of cowboy boots and a cowboy hat.

That’s when Cowboy Mike called.

“Well you sure can tell you’re from back east,” he said. “Out here folks don’t say cowboy boots and cowboy hat; they just say boots and hat.”

I felt silly, I understood. After all, bikers don’t say, “I’m gonna put on my motorcycle helmet.” Policemen don’t walk out the door saying, “I’m putting on my policeman’s hat.”

Anyway, hats came to mind the other day as The Lady of the House and I sat in a local eatery. Black hats were everywhere. We were in the company of working cowboys: Faded jeans, dusty boots, the jingle of spurs. These guys certainly weren’t “all hat and no cattle.”

“I don’t understand how they can wear those hats all the time,” I said. “I’m not comfortable in one.”

“That’s because you haven’t worn one since you were a kid,” said The Lady of the House without looking up from her menu.

I pictured li’l buckaroos across The West sitting in the crib; rattle in one hand and wearing new boots and a hat. I suppose if you’ve worn a hat all your life you’d miss it if it was gone. Yeah I guess I’m a ball cap and sneakers dude, otherwise I’d look like one of those “all hat and no cattle” kinda guys.