This is a story for a story telling group I have been to once. The next session is on the topic of risk. You are not meant to prepare anything but I wanted to write the story out anyway. Because I don't give a shit!
I ain't not a cowboy.
That is a picture of my bike at the end. Except the part of my bike is being played by it's a version of itself with it's skin turned inside out. The role of the Egg Party is being played by 007, who is known in some circles as James Bond, who is being played by Pierce Brosnan. The sloppy meatball sub is being played by a Walther P99.
This is a message to Ben's friend Alex. If you want to submit a story and you are still reading then let me know.
- The Egg Party
'If You Ain't A Cowboy You Ain't Shit'
by The Egg Party
I was given the topic of risk for a story telling event. As I started writing I went straight backwards. Directly to the day the four of us were pouring flammable alcohol over the Lord of The Rings version of the boardgame Risk. Four friends who decided that this strategy game was tearing our friendship apart. We decided that we would burn the lot in order to prevent further strife.
I was thirteen and that seemed important. I took risks at the time but they were non-traditional. Later when engaging in the classic ‘risk taking behaviour’ of young adulthood, often with mildly illegal elements, I thought that I should have used my cloak of minor protection more frequently. A collection of insignificant crimes over my youth would have been no great loss.
My games of chance were entirely based within legal areas. I like the idea of gambling. Enjoyment is not in the winning, rather it is the additional layer of intrigue that it applies to life. If I am ever to watch a sports game now I will usually put money on a team for it is the one way which I can remain interested.
The dangers of gambling were instilled in me when I was young. My mother told me of my great-great-grandfather, a lieutenant in the Irish Republican Army. He was the Murphy family’s great speculator. After a particularly disastrous run of losses he ended up betting the family home on a game of cards. He lost and the family ended up living in government supplied houses given to rail workers; a profession the three successive generations worked in order to right this financial wrong. With this family history I felt a draw from within my being. Instead of financial ruin, I chose insignificant avenues for my gambling.
In the year of the burning of Middle Earth, I lost the biggest bet of my life thus far and it was over a tennis match. It was a singles game and the stakes were major. My opponent was a sporty redhead who lived on my block. We had found a pair of bolt cutters at a construction yard and had decided to create an entrance to the tennis court residing on the same street we occupied.
The wager was this:
This challenge led me part of the way away from both religion and sport. I lost the game. The various points and sets don’t stand out to me. I do remember falling to my knees at the end of the game in a moment of teenage emotion. I skinned my knee and I pinched off a bit of my pride. My begrudging hate for cricket increased. My budding antagonistic atheist self grew. I steeled myself for a week of god and horses.
It was not as painful as I had expected. The camp was more of a curiosity. It was reminiscent of any other school camp I went to but with a background of subliminal nausea. The design of the place was aimed at being removed from modern society, transporting the campers back to a simpler time. When men were men. When the word racism didn't exist. When families stuck together and went to church every day. From the website:
'After over 40 years, Ranchers are still amazed as they enter the gateway to find themselves in an 1880's-style Western village'.
We slept in wagons. There was chapel every day. We sung songs and discussed the bible for an hour or two each morning. I remember enjoying the communal singing because there is always some joy in joining others with song. One particular song stood out to me called “I Just Wanna Be a Sheep”. A large portion of the chorus was just bleating.
Activities during the day consisted of sports and riding lessons. Further rock music was played during this program projected on an extensive PA system. All ‘explicit’ lyrics such as baby, sex, drugs, were changed to biblical references. Most of it was just paraphrased with the name Jesus. I questioned the majority of what I was told and was even given a bible after promises to read the book out of interest. A promise I have made to people many times after this initial offer with little success.
I spent most of my time just trying to be helpful. Take a risk and be the best I could do. I was so helpful that I won the award of Top Cowboy. At the last night of the camp I was up on stage to accept the award and I was told by the head pastor that my prize for winning the medal was a kiss from the Top Cowgirl. I was there, on the spot, with this crowd of believers watching expectantly. I had just been told I was now the cowboy and I had to get my kiss from the finest girl in town. As it so happened it was the first kiss of my life. I was so acutely stressed that I don’t even remember what her name was or what she looked like. I sauntered over and I stole my title and my kiss.
I took my incidental winnings and walked away. Perhaps I could have had the cowgirl as my wife. I dream of this life when I am looking into a burning fire. When I am riding over the savannah. When I am hanging a horse rustler from the Charyou tree. When I am looking over the range eating a damn fine bowl of pudding.
That is why this remains the greatest traditional gamble of my life, exchanging pride for a step towards becoming a cowboy.