"Fly fishing is my passion, hunting is my weakness, and mules are a perplexing addiction."

Saturday, March 26, 2011


A while back I marched into Bader Aagie's Western Wear & Hat Emporium with the sole purpose of becoming the proud owner of a brand new hat. The reason for the new lid was to replace the slightly-worn one resting atop my head; the one my wife claims, "Isn't fit to wear to a hog scaldin'." This clever nugget of wisdom coming from a woman, who back in the sixties, donned a headband, moccasins, and a tie-dye shirt sporting a hand-painted peace sign on the front, and whose entire vocabulary was usually accompanied by profound pearls such as, "Groovy," Far out," and "Peace."

At any rate, I spotted the back of Bader's bald noggin over against the far wall performing inventory on a shipment of new jeans that had just arrived.

"Hey, Bader," I said, making a beeline for the hat section.

"Hey yerself, Tom," drawled Bader, continuing his inventory.

Bader had more hats on his wall than pimples at a prom. As I scanned the wall I was immediately able to discount three-quarters of the seventeen-gazillion hats. That would be the ones that were, brown, blue, fuchsia, yellow, green, or any of the other colors that weren't either silver belly, or black.

I stared at the hat display Bader had handsomely arranged on the wall and upon a fair amount of serious studying it became apparent to me that something was terribly wrong.

"Bader," I hollered. "Got a minute?"

"Whatcha need, Tom, somethin' off that top rack," he asked, parking his pencil behind his ear and grabbing the hat pole?

"Not exactly, Bader." I said, unsure how to broach the subject. You see, Bader is proud as a rooster in a hen house of his huge inventory of western hats. In fact, Bader's motto is, "If we ain't got it, you don't need it!"

"Need somethin' in a different size, do ya," he asked?

"No… no, not exactly," I said.

"Well, what then?"

"Where's all your hats, Bader? This can't be all of 'em, is it?"

Bader's eyeballs momentarily resembled the wheels on a slot machine, and when they stopped rolling, they went straight to the wall. Bader's neck slowly craned as he followed the wall of hats fifty-feet to the left, and then his eyes drifted fifty-feet to the right. Peeking over the top of his Ben Franklin cheaters, Bader then looked back at me like I was nuttier than a port-a-potty at a peanut festival.

"Bader," I said, matter-of-factly. "I'm not goin' to a rock concert or a love-in. No self- respecting cowboy in the world would be caught dead wearin' one of those monstrosities."

Bader bowed up a bit and you could see his hackles rise. "Just whatta ya mean, Tom? What's wrong with my hats?"

"What I mean, Bader, is that I think there's a whole community of peacocks runnin' around naked somewhere. Some of those hats up there got more feathers on 'em than a Chinese pillow factory, and I've seen fewer buckles at a straight-jacket convention. Except for the Pilgrams, who puts a buckle on a hat anyway? I just want a hat with a ribbon on it, Bader. Just a plain, old, simple, unassuming ribbon!"

"Well Tom, this is all they send me now-a-days," Bader said, scratching his head. "I reckon nobody wears a hat with a plain, old ribbon on it anymore? It's just not the fashion."

"Well I do, Bader. Just a plain, old-fashioned ribbon is all that needs to be on a hat. I don't need feathers, I don't need snake skins, and I don't need conchos, glitter or sparkling buckles. I don't want to look like Elton John, John Travolta, or Waylon Jennings, and I'm not auditioning for American Idol. I don't need to grab the attention of incoming aircraft in a fog, I don't need to stop traffic, and I'm not planning on visiting San Francisco any time soon. Bader; some of those hats up there have more conchos on 'em than a Mexican parade saddle. Ain't no self respecting cowboy in the world would wear one of those hats up there, Bader. Can ya order me one without all the jingle-bobs, or not?"

Bader said that he would, but that it might cost me a bit more due to the fact it would be a special order. I then confided to Bader that while I wasn't exactly Donald Trump, I really didn't care what it cost, and that I'd shave my fanny, paint a happy face on it and walk backwards before I'd wear one of those fancy-Nancy-hats up there on his wall.

"Okay, I'll get one ordered for you, Tom," said Bader. "Can I interest ya in a pair of jeans? They just come in, all the way from France?"

On the drive back home I couldn't help but wonder what was happening in this world? I was noticing a disturbing trend around me that didn't stop with cowboy hats. As I walked into the house I was as bothered as a penned-up mule when his buddies ride out.

"Honey," I hollered, storming into the house.

"Yes, dear, what is it," she said, meeting me at the door on her way out?

"What the heck is happening to men these days? Are they all getting female hormone injections, or something," I said?

"Oh heavens; you didn't know," she said?

"Know what," I asked?

"It's a government mandate. I take it you haven't received yours yet?"

"Very funny, smart-pants. It's just that guys these days seem to be turning into Nancys, they're getting soft, fu-fu'd, and feminized. A fella can't even buy a cowboy hat now-a-days without it lookin' like some country singer who wouldn't know snot from superglue wore it on his east coast tour."

"Oh dear; I'll alert the media. What's the matter, can't find anyone to go fishing with you today?" she said, as I thought I detected a slight note of sarcasm.

"You don't understand, do you," I said? "Guys these days seem to be turning into… I dunno, soft I guess. You know, sissy types, all girlied-up."

"Hmmm, too bad. Okay, well I'm going to run into town; want anything?" Cathy said.

"You just don't get it, do ya, dear? Twenty years from now there won't be any real guys left; they'll all be wearin' make-up and knitting doilies," I explained.

"Oh, by the way," said Cathy, opening the door and stepping outside. "Lecil called and wanted to know if you wished to go with him to wrestle a mountain lion with your bare hands? He says it's been spotted near his cows."

"Really, he did," I said?

"No, just kidding. I'll be back later; bye!"

As my indifferent bride drove out of the gate, I began thinking that something must be done. Somebody should stand up and make a last ditch effort to save manly-mankind from fading away and disappearing with the Umbrella tent, single-shot .22, and the Popeil Pocket Fisherman. I decided right then and there that it was up to me to do something to save manlyism. I had to get the word out to save manly-men worldwide from falling into the trap, so I came up with a partial list of things guys just don't do. I call it: Things guys just don't do!

To begin with, aside from the cowboy hat stuff, guys don't wear jeans with swirly-curdles on the back pockets, or some Frenchman's name embroidered across the fanny. Wranglers, Levi's and the like are fine manly-man jeans. So are Dickies, but they really should change their name to Dick's, Bob's, Cliff's or something!

Guys don't wear their ball caps with the bill pointing east/west, trying to look like one of The Little Rascals or Snoop Doggie-Doo. And unless you're a major league catcher, guys turn the bill of their caps in the direction they're going in life, not where they've been.

Guys don't text. Cheese and rice; if you've got time to finger type all that schtuff, why not just call me and tell me. Guys don't Twitter, either. Let's face it; Twittering is just texting that sounds gay.

Guys don't use lol in a sentence; EVER! They don't use emoticons and they certainly don't do Farmville, Mafia Wars, or any of those other silly games people with no life do. Guys hunt, we fish, we climb mountains, we hike, we drink beer, and we do a hundred other manly-man things our wives don't approve of, but we do them anyway because we're manly-men!

Guys don't tote around man bags, fanny packs, shoulder bags, satchels, or murses. No matter what you call them; they're still purses, you foolio, and that's your wife's job and a long established tradition that identifies you from your spouse or girlfriend. If ya can't carry it in your pocket, your hand, or the case it came in; leave it at home.

Guys don't gather around the water jug at work to discuss last night's episode of Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, or any program where the main character is a vampire. Football, hunting, or vasectomies, however, are appropriate subjects as long as there is a certain amount of blood or personal injury involved.

Guys don't get manicures or pedicures. Our paws are supposed to look like dry-cured hams because we're outside doing manly-man stuff, and our feet look like chunks of locker meat because we're clumsy. If a guy's feet look nice, he's probably a ballet dancer.

You should have at least one visible scar someplace on your body, and another, preferably located in an area where you need to roll up a sleeve, pant leg, or whip off your shirt to show it off and brag about the gruesome details of how you acquired it. "Yep, got this baby when a chainsaw snagged and kicked back on me."

Guys don't use mousse, frost their tips, or pay twenty dollars for a haircut either, unless you live in San Francisco. And unless you're six, guys don't wear Mohawks, mullets, color their hair, or do comb-overs. If you're going bald and it bothers you, get over it, that's what ball caps are for. It happens to all of us unless you're Dick Clark, Paul McCartney, or Ronald Reagan. Deal with it or shave it off.

Guys don't drink lattes, peppermint mocha
frapachooties, or diet sodas. Guys don't drink Cosmopolitans, fuzzy navels, or drinks they can't pronounce, have fruit in them, or anything else that requires a blender or has a paper parasol in it. "Do you think these Wranglers make my butt look fat?" will probably not be a statement heard by a group of guys mounting up to go out and look for strays.

Rabbits, horses and tree sloths are vegetarians. Guys don't eat quiche, tofu, or anything with the name soy in it. Soy milk? HELLO; its soy bean juice, you numbskull. We are hunters and gatherers and we eat meat! Hamburgers, steaks, ribs, and pork chops are the order of the day, with lots of gravy on those potatoes, please! Turkey is eaten on Thanksgiving, and not in the form of turkey burger.

Guys don't wear earrings or get piercings. Unless you are employed as a sideshow attraction at a circus, or are a pirate, piercings are for women's earrings and a small group of natives stuck on a remote island near Borneo somewhere who are simply amazed when they see a tourist pull a Bic from his trousers and torch off a cigarette.

Well, that's about it for now, I guess. Hopefully there's still a chance for manly-mankind to save itself, and the Oprahs of the world won't get us all. I know I'll go down fighting!

Whew, I'm tired; that took a lot out of me. Guess I need to wind down a bit and relax before I blow a gasket. Gee, I wonder where Cathy keeps that electric, hot-wax foot massager of hers.