When I was growing up, I watched western movies incessantly. When playing together – my siblings, cousins and I – if I wasn’t allowed to be John Wayne, I refused to play. I was always John Wayne.
Now that I’m grown up, I wonder about my connection to the cowboy? Not the real ones, you understand, not those real cowboys in Colorado or Texas, or the Pampas of Argentina, not those actually herding cattle on a ranch; for me it’s about the mythic cowboy figure in my own inner world.
It’s curious, in Westerns, it’s not the women characters that I pay attention to. Sure there’ve been some interesting women, but they’re always eclipsed by the man on the horse, the romantic figure who roams outdoors, whilst the women remain within.
A strong, silent man, that’s how I think of a cowboy. Strong character, who walks tall and proud. A plain talking man of few words, who when he does speak, speaks with directness, says what he means. Honour is his internalised code. He inspires trust. Courage flows in his veins, you can rely on him.
The traits of my mythic cowboy are seductive. Come to think of it, they’re qualities that make for both a fine man and a fine woman.