All Hat and No Cowboy

If you are anywhere near Calgary, Alberta right now you can’t help but be keenly aware that the Stampede is officially underway. Bales of hay dot nearly every doorway, red and white flags hang from most lampposts, fireworks dance in the sky each night, and C-Trains are being sullied by overindulgent partiers who can’t hold their booze.

If all those signs weren’t enough, the endless sea of cowboy-hatted heads should have given it away.

As someone who grew up in rural Alberta and has only missed attending the Stampede once (I was living in Australia! Get over it!), I can spot a wannabe cowboy from a country mile away. But advances in cowboy hat technology and denim fading techniques have made this much more difficult to do in recent years. Sigh.

Rather than forcing a potential cowboy to display their calf roping skills as evidence, here’s a short checklist that will help you spot those wannabes who are all hat and no cowboy:

  • Start off by examining the back of the potential cowboy’s jeans. Do you see a circular object in one of their pockets? If yes, you probably have a real cowboy on your hands.
  • Speaking of jeans, check out the overall view while you’re looking at the back pockets.  You’re likely in the presence of a real cowboy if the sight makes you understand the saying “Wrangler butts drive me nuts.”

  • Moving up to the head, take a close look at the hat and remember this: real cowboys wear the hell out of their hats. There’s no need to buy one that’s pre-bent or designed to look used because it’ll get that way on its own in due time.

  • In terms of refreshments, cowboys tend to have simple tastes. They like beer and rye. And a lot of it. Keeping one in each hand ensures a steady supply…unless they’re on a horse, of course.

  • Finally, you have to check out footwear. Nearly every shoe store in North America is currently stocking some sort of glitzy cowboy boots. As with everything, if the boots look too good/new to be true, they probably are.

And there you have it! In just five simple steps, you can determine the difference between a rhinestone cowboy and the real McCoy. This will come in very handy if you’re in Calgary this week to heed the advice of this song’s chorus:

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