Sunday, July 4, 2010

My Love Affair with the Old West

My daughter asked me the other day why I have been watching a lot of westerns lately.

I told because they rock! And with that ended the longest conversation I had with her in a month.

I got to thinking about it though, and the easy answer is because there is a dedicated Encore Westerns channel on Comcast.

It’s more than that though.

Before the discovery of Dungeons and Dragons there were westerns. In my day that was as escapist as you could get. I watched these films with the same rapt attention I would later turn to space operas. For me these were the landscapes I wanted to be in.

I grew up on farm and camping beneath the stars was a weekend activity in the summer. I would lay there on my bed roll and cowboy hat dreaming of riding into that frontier. This was all at a time of humanities greatest journeys into the night.

I come from a long line of gunfighters. I have ancestors on both sides of Mason-Dixon, and for the kin out west both Native and European. I couldn’t watch a John Wayne flick without some relative waxing poetic about what my line was doing back then. I miss those days of rich oral histories.

Then I discovered girls, beer and Dungeon and Dragons! Me and my geeky running mates lapsed into our own styles and I was of course the Cowboy. They were the punker, the ninja, the soldier, the princess, and a whole host of other one-named tags. Westerns were shown less and less, wither that or I was watching less and less TV and spending less and less time alone. Well all of those things to be honest.

Now that I am older, with descendents making their own way into the world, I have a little bit of time to fall back into my altered dreamland. I’ve even started writing a novel. It’s a sci-fi western.

You can’t take the cowboy out of me as long as I can still see the stars.

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