My Cowboy Hat

March 7, 2008

I was in Albuquerque for a conference last month.  Albuquerque is big and empty – everything is brown and turquoise.  The only things in Albuquerque worth getting excited about were the burritos and the old town.  I spent an hour doing everything there was to do in old town and a further hour waiting for a taxi to take me back to the conference.  If you find yourself in Albuquerque in the near future, there are three border-line intersting things you can see; The New Mexico Art gallery, an Atomic Weapons Museum and past lots of buildings (most of them closed) with hanging signs and cattle skulls over doorways.  It helps if you have someone to talk to whilst you do these things. The rooftops in old town looked perfect for sliding off onto a horse for a quick getaway if you are so inclined.

The taxi driver told us about a rodeo in town and I decided that I needed a cowboy hat.  I also bought a sheriff’s badge (as a novelty gift for my colleagues back in Oxford) and lingered around the huge belt buckles and boot-string ties before deciding against them.  I wore my hat for the rest of the conference (but not the badge).  You might not think that there are many things you can do with a hat, hats being, after all, clothes and clothes generally having no other purpose than covering parts of your body.  You would be wrong.  Here are some things you can do whilst wearing a cowboy hat.

– Doff it to people you know.  This works especially well if you accompany it by saying their name is they are a man or saying ‘mam’ if they are a woman.

– Tip it over your eyes when you are supposed to be manning a booth, except you drank too much tequila the night before and just want to sleep and there are no psychologists around to care about your booth anyway.

– Meet eyes across a conference hall with someone who is wearing a different coloured cowboy hat to you and pretend to go for your imaginary gun.  This only really works if they also pretend to go for their imaginary gun, rather than looking at you blankly.

– Learn to flip the hat onto your head: start with it facing away from you, roll it into the crook of your arm and in a fluid motion place it on your head.  I only learned this trick when I got back to Oxford and cursed myself for not working on it sooner: bitches love hat rolling tricks.

– Stick your thumbs either side of your belt buckle and walk around like a cowboy.  Say ‘howdy’ to strangers.

You should bear in mind that in a lot of south-west people wear cowboy hats without irony and, if they realise that you are in fact British and doing a bad impression of a cowboy, they may suspect mockery and punch you.  You should also be aware that when you get home and are heavily jetlagged, your friends will try to steal your hat and make Brokeback Mountain jokes.

 I helped a friend move last weekend and whilst doing so I found a pair of aviator sunglasses amongst his stuff.  I wore them for the rest of the day and decided by the end of it that, as with the cowboy hat, my life would be that bit sweeter if I had a pair of aviators so I bought a pair.  They arrived today and, as with the cowboy hat, I wore them in the office.  One of my colleagues tells me that I am becoming ‘that guy’, a statement which I take as wholly positive.

According to Neil Strauss, the practice of wearing cowboy hats, aviators and other daft accessories is referred to amongst the pick up artist community as ‘peacocking’ – apparently girls in clubs find men more attractive if they are wearing some kind of ironic and frankly rather homosexual accessory.  Thinking back, I can not remember an evening where I had more female attention than when, one Easter, I drank enough to earn myself a pair of bunny ears and then folded them downwards to make myself lop-eared.  If only I had seen the correlation at the time I would still be wearing those ears today – they would have made an interesting talking point in job interviews.

I wonder how much it would cost to get myself some giant Mr. T chains…


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