"All outlaws are photogenic."
-- Tom Robbins, Still Life With Woodpecker
|Self portrait 8-19-13|
“Somehow, we'll find it.
The balance between whom we wish to be
and whom we need to be.
But for now, we simply have to be satisfied
with who we are.”
-- Brandon Sanderson, The Hero of Ages
When I was about 5 years old, I wanted cowboy guns, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat for Christmas.
I got the guns. Two silver, plasticized pearl-handled pistols with a belt and holsters.
I got the hat. Felt, with a little string under the chin.
I got the boots. Black. Shiny.
I even got a shirt with cowboy piping.
I also got a skirt.
A stiff, ugly black skirt with white plastic fringe along the hem.
There are Super-8 home movies of me in this girly get-up, waving my pistols, trying to be a bad-ass cowboy.
In a skirt.
I hated that skirt.
I didn't want a skirt.
I didn't ask for a skirt.
I knew that no self-respecting cowboy would be caught dead in a goddamn skirt.
And I didn't want to hear about girl outlaws.
I didn't want to be Annie Oakley.
I didn't want to be Belle Starr.
I wanted to be Jesse James.
Billy the Kid.
It wasn't the first time my mother forced me to wear a dress. That happened a lot. Usually for pictures or holidays. I always felt so uncomfortable in a dress. So unnatural. So self-conscious. Like an imposter. A fraud.
But, like all the other skirts and dresses of my childhood, I wore the cowgirl skirt to mollify my parents -- for the pictures.
I tried to look happy. Tried to appear grateful.
As soon as Christmas was over, I took that fucker off and I never wore it again.
I got good mileage out of the pistols and the boots, though.
I am all grown up now, and I still love to shoot. Real guns. I'm a pretty good shot, actually. I am proficient with a .22, a sexy as hell .38 revolver (now that's a cowboy gun), a Glock 9 mm, and a .380 semi-automatic.
I have two pistols of my very own and am a registered concealed carrier.
Yup. I can pack heat.
I have my own real Stetson hat. I have my own real cowboy boots. I even made myself a pair of rodeo chaps -- with cowboy fringe.
Not a skirt.
And just to make sure we're clear, I got myself a handlebar mustache and a beard -- for the pictures.