I used to be a Nanny.
me. Imagine! I worked for CF, and took care of her three children in
Brooklyn, dealing with steam heat (oh! how I miss that!), brownstones,
the joys of Hasidim neighborhoods (the house across the street has
23 children in it. Yes, 23. You never hear a peep.) All of the fresh
vegetables on 86th Street, the D train... yes, all of it.
her out a bit, filling in as Nanny Quin again until she finds someone
to do the job on a permanent basis. The kids and I get along, I'd known them since my days in Utah, and it's
an easy thing to do.
I had one thing I looked for every day,
one landmark, when I walked the youngest two children to school...I'd check to see if he was still
around, if the winter hadn't taken him away, if he'd survived another
season here in New York.
He was. He'd survived.
The Brooklyn Cowboy.
He's still there, a sturdy, yellow plastic cowboy embedded in the asphalt on Bay two and a half steps from the curb.
one of the old plastic cowboys, the kind that sat on a horse, with very bowed
legs, his chaps embossed in plastic, his trusty Winchester at the
ready. The ten gallon hat remained firmly in place, no matter how hard
he rode Blackie or Rusty or Bob out on the Plains looking to protect
the wimmenfolk and turn the West into civilisation.
I don't know
how long he's been there.. he was rising out of the asphalt before;
now, his surface area is larger, but, he's wearing thin and you still
can't remove him...I don't know if he was there and the last layer of
asphalt is worn down so he's showing again, or, if he was put in on top
of the last repaving, an offering to the steamroller gods. I can see
some child squatting on the sidewalk, after carefully placing him on the hot
asphalt where he's trapped like some modern Mastodon in a flat version
of the LaBrea Tar Pits... waiting...waiting.... having the huge steam
roller pass over his sturdy body that survives the heat and the weight,
feeling the black grit cool around him, and there he'd be, for you to
pass over on your way to school or the deli, until one day, you aren't
there anymore, you've moved on, something you kept him from ever doing.
day, a woman with cropped hair and real cowboy boots is standing there, dodging traffic,
taking a photo of your offering, a thousand thoughts floating in her head as to how that cowboy ended up as part of a street in Brooklyn.
Yes, I was pleased to see him still there, still bright yellow, still holding his own.
You see, I used to love my plastic cowboys.
came in packages with a thin cardboard top, hole in the center to let
it hang on a rack there at TG&Y... with cowboys and horses (my favourites where the
black horses, they looked sooooo sassy), there were some cowboys with rifles,
others with a lariat frozen in a perfect circle, ready to lasso that dogie,
and each pack always contained the now very politically incorrect Indians
in full war regalia.. war bonnets flowing down their backs. Their
horses only had blankets, so, you had to be careful to not mix up these horses with the cowboy ones until you started to lose the mounts a lawnmower.... or, as usually happened, one of
the extended legs of the perennially trotting mounts would have a leg
weaken from the constant galloping it did to the stick fort and finally
fall off, causing a burial. In our case, we broke up the monotony of
the day and mixed up the normal burial by melting them with a magnifying glass and the hot New Orleans sun.
When you played with either group, they didn't walk properly... the fixed
legs made it difficult for the cowboys to be menacing when advancing towards each other
in a gunfight, or either group to attack with any sense of violence, so, you did this rocking back and forth motion as
they moved forward towards each other...not very menacing at all when you think about it.
Add to it their wimmin folk were usually some Kewpie doll that towered
over them, causing Napoleon complexes to all those multi-coloured men of either group... thus leading to huge numbers
of gunfights, now that I look back on it...and it was all very surreal.
My cowboy was always named Gary. I had a thing for High Noon and it's handsome star....I
passed the name onto my yellow cowboy in the asphalt. His tenacity fit
the name better than any other plastic cowboy ever did before.
pack would almost last the month of August, that time after my trip to
Monroe. They made it though the Bermuda grass under the trees, the
forts built in dirt, the dogs making off with horses or a scout or two.
Eventually, you were left with some chewed up pieces, which went off to
die to the outside toybox, and finally were thrown away when my MawMaw
grew tired of the smell of old socks, flip flops missing chunks that
had been left behind on the bark of various trees we'd climbed, and the
tired remains of plastic cowboys.
I was glad to see Gary was
still there. That he was holding strong, brighter than my photo shows
him to be last year, defiant in his refusal to disappear into the road,
into the atmosphere, not going into that last sunset.
I leaned over, planting my own cowboy boots next to his, and wished him well.
Then, I jumped quickly out of the way of a bus, that cheerfully rolled over Gary's face.
will survive these streets.... he's part of them, a Brooklyn Cowboy,
happy in his asphalt bed, content to be smushed daily, waiting to be
seen by someone else aside from me, I reckon.
WORLD - CULTURE
Copyright © 2010 quin browne
The Brooklyn Cowboy
They aren't always found West of the Mississippi....
Copyright © 2010 quin browne
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