“How deep is your love?”
“Do you remember?”
“Why can’t we be friends?”
I get it. Lots of musicians ask really broad questions in their songs, stuff that might be hard to answer definitively. Like, it’d be tough to quantify for Barry Gibb the exact depth of your love and, even if you could, would that even be what he wanted? Is he talking about your ability to love in general, your feelings for him specifically, or does he actually want you to fashion some sort of love-depth measurement instrument and report back. Same with Phil Collins. It’s like, do we remember what, exactly, Phil? And, why can’t we be friends? Um, lots of reasons, War. You, of all people, should be familiar with unresolvable interpersonal conflict. There’s not one clear answer to any of these, right? They’re all pretty gray.
You know what’s not gray? "Where have all the cowboys gone?" Not gray at all. Simple and direct. Look, the long and short of it is, Barry and Phil and the guys from War, I don’t think they even expected answers. They were just in it for the art. Not me. I got into this business for one reason and one reason only: to ask a question that I hoped would inspire a large-scale international cowboy search and rescue mission. It’s been fifteen years and I’ve received zero responses. What the hell is taking you all so long?
I don’t care about what you think I meant.
“She’s talking about chivalry.” Wrong.
“It’s a tribute to rugged masculinity of yore.” Also no.
“She’s mourning the end of an NFL dynasty.” Couldn’t be farther off.
I’m not trying to be bitchy here, but I meant exactly what I asked. No one even called me to say they didn’t know. “Good question, Paula. I’m not sure, but I’ve noticed a cowboy shortage too.”
Commiseration also would’ve been nice. “Hi Paula. I just want to let you know I’ve been looking, and it’s really draining. When are we going to find them, do you think? This stinks.”
Honestly, you didn’t need to give a hard answer at all. I would have settled for follow-up questions. “Paula, my uncle Ron is grabby with waitresses and kind of racist and wears a cowboy hat. Is he one of the ones you’re looking for?”
Wait wait, shit. I can’t believe I’m just now thinking of this. Was it because I said “all”? Did you think you had to track down every single cowboy? Oh man, is that it? Because I can see why that would be overwhelming. It’s hard enough to find one missing person, let alone an ill-defined, large band of lost, trigger-happy cowboys who are probably really afraid to be wherever they are and might not be so forthcoming when you present yourself as a rescuer. Geez, I should have been more precise about how many I expected you to discover. Going forward, four’s the magic number. I’ll be happy with anything over four. How many cowboys does a gal really need, right?!
You could have asked me, though. If you felt daunted by the task, it shouldn’t have taken you fifteen years to say so. I’m willing to admit my question—worded in a moment of extreme panic about all the missing cowboys—may have been misleading. You should feel just as comfortable about admitting your concerns. If we’re going to find any of these cowboys, it’s going to take clear, consistent communication.
Next month, I’ll be opening the nation’s first Cowboy Search Center in Rockport, Massachusetts. It’s going to be a top-flight facility, equipped with the newest cowboy detection software. For rescued cowboys awaiting medical treatment, the Center has a spacious shelter, fully stocked with fresh spurs, lassoes, and belt buckles. Anyway, the CSC will need to be staffed and I need to know if you’re in or out. I’d like as many of you to be involved as possible, but I’m also not going to chase anyone (unless they’re cowboys).
Lastly, and I feel like I have to say this, please do not be bashful about asking me for additional resources. If the CSC isn’t meeting your needs or you’re confused about where to start your search, I can help. The song’s rhyme scheme and tempo made it difficult for me to offer my phone number and email address so let me make sure you have those. Phone is: 310-FIND-ALL-THE-COWBOYS-RIGHT-NOW. Once it starts ringing, you can stop dialing. (Again, no need to worry about finding “all” the cowboys. The “FINDTHECOWBOYSRIGHTNOW” extension was already taken when I registered this number.) My email is: LiveLaughLove@aol.com.
So glad all this is settled. Happy hunting!