"How ya'll doin?'" the hillbilly said
to the cowboys at the bar.
They turned around and stared him down
'cause that's how cowboys are.

"Howdy," a few cowboys said
and then turned back to their beer.
But the hillbilly wasn't satisfied.
He seemed to have no fear.

"Are you fellers cowboys?"
he asked with naiveté.
The cowboys looked bewildered.
They didn't know what to say.

They were wearing hats and spurs and chaps
So it seemed quite clear to all.
This guy was a little weird.
His brain must be quite small.

"Yep." a cowboy said at last
and a few of them did laugh.
But the situation was a little strange
Like seein' a three-eyed calf.

"I've never met a cowboy before.
I'd like to buy ya a beer."

The cowboys looked uneasy,
as if the devil was near.

"Pull up a chair." one cowboy said.
His friends all looked aghast.
Their snickers had subsided.
Their smiles were now half-mast.

"Bartender, one round on me
for all these cowboys here."

And they started feeling better
with the taste of that free beer.

And even the devil might be okay
if he bought the guys a round.
But just the same their guard was up
with this new friend that they'd found.

For cowboys ain't that friendly.
'least not right off the bat.
So they kept on stealing glances
at where this new guy sat.

"It sure is nice to drink with you fellers.
It's made my dream come true.
I'm lucky that I found ya here.
Bartender, make that two."

"Where ya from?" a cowboy asked,
more curious than polite.
"I'm from West Virginia.
I just got in tonight."

"Ya see, my momma died last month
and left me all she had.
I sold the house and headed west
'cause staying there was too sad."

"I want to be a cowboy
and live the western life.
Just like in the movies
with Roy Rogers and his wife."

The cowboys looked amongst themselves
They thought - this guy's not all here.
One cowboy asked: "Can you to ride a horse
or rope or brand a steer?"

"Nope, I sure don't know much a'tall
'bout what you fellers do.
But I reckon I can learn it all
if you was to teach me to."

"I'll work for free, for room and board.
I'll do anything I can.
Is anybody hirin' now
who needs a handy man?"

"I know just the place for you."
said a cowboy who did blanch.
"They hire folks like you all the time.
It's called Aspen Canyon Ranch."

August 8, 1999

Aspen Canyon Ranch is near Parshall, Colorado where I worked for five years as a wrangler. It closed its gates several year ago and rumor has it that it may reopen under new management.