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Where Did My Cowboy Go?

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"Where did my Cowboy go?"

What a great, great question. It's so layered, penetrating and surgically precise. It was asked by an old college friend of mine, Joan, who was puzzled as to why most men were no longer "real men."

Joan is divorced and has a couple of kids. Her first husband lived the life of Riley, and led her to believe they could afford it all; that is, until a notice came unexpectedly one day that they had to move out their five bedroom house in suburban Boston. They moved out. He declared bankruptcy. And in the middle of all this financial mayhem, Joan found out she had breast cancer. So what did he do? He left her.

Cowboys, in America at least, are legendary. They are a football team, yes, but when we hear the word cowboy, most of us think of a man -- very rugged -- who sleeps with his herd of cattle, fends off Indians at every pass, and is always, always, always fiercely independent.
Where did that cowboy go when it comes to American men?

Last week was Valentine's Day week. It's a celebration of love, when two people ask each other one very simple, very sweet question -- "Will you be my Valentine?" What type of man is standing before his woman today? Is he that rugged, outdoorsy cowboy? Probably not. And that's OK. But the real question about our American guy isn't how he looks in a pair of chaps. Nope. It's this one -- is he independent?

Meet David. He looks like a cowboy, in real life. He sports a scruffy beard. He stands 6'7" tall. He is a contractor. He drives a pickup truck. If he worked out instead of sitting in front of the flat screen with his remote watching NASCAR, he could probably give a bull a good run for his money. He's all that. He's a big hunk of man. Let's call him, then, Davy Bunyan.

Mr. Bunyan has two kids. He got divorced, and pretty much gave up all custody to his wife. And that's OK with him, because he didn't fight for them. When Davy does have his kids -- every other weekend, and for dinner one night a week -- he takes them over to his girlfriend's house, where he spends all of his time, even though he has his own apartment.

Davy Bunyan created an instant Brady Bunch Mash Up. Was this good for his kids? Hardly. Was it good for his girlfriend's kids? No. Does he care? No.

But Davy Bunyan should care. And he should be independent, just like a cowboy, in his own apartment where he cooks his own meals for his own kids, where he helps them do their homework, where he raises his children. Why doesn't Davy man-up and do that? His girlfriend said it best: "He wants a mom for his kids."

Why she puts up with all of Davy Bunyan's cow dung on her cowboy boots is a discussion for another day. But here's the rub -- where did Davy's inner cowboy go? Or maybe the biggest riddle of all is this -- how did we create millions upon millions of Man/Boys, who are just like Davy Bunyan, who we see each and every day, wearing baseball hats at night in bars, sporting baggy pants and stained shirts, refusing to hold doors for women, who in the end don't lift a finger for anyone but themselves.

Well, pardners, there's a new sheriff in town, and it's called Chivalry. It's time for all of us to join forces and fight back against the Man/Boy, starting today. It's time for folks like Davy Bunyan to finally grow a set, put on his man pants, and man up to his kids, to his girlfriend, and most importantly, to himself.

Man-up simply means to be a gentleman. Yep. It's that easy. Being a gentleman means to think and do for others before you do the first thing for yourself. So to all you Davy Bunyans out there, it's time for you to learn how to saddle up, climb aboard your horse and ride into your town as an independent, responsible, wonderful cowboy.