Cowgirls Don’t Cry

Cowgirls (and PR Professionals) Don’t Cry: A True Story about a Weekend in Bandera, Texas That I Will Never Forget

As we speak, my rear end and thighs are still smarting from my weekend trip to a local Cowboy Ranch located right in the heart of the beautiful and vast Texas Hill Country. My husband, Darrell, and I had been long overdue for a weekend getaway to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary. Darrell was determined to plan the entire trip but being the thoughtful person he is, asked for my opinion on what I’d like to do. Thinking outside of the box, I said that it would be fun to go somewhere “where we could ride horses.” Famous last words!

Catherine on horse

This brings us to Friday night and our arrival at the ranch. After check-in, we made our way up to our cabin which, gasp, didn’t have a TV! I also quickly realized that we had zero cell phone reception. No biggie, I can handle being away from civilization (aka my work email) for a day or two. Heck, I’m a born and raised Texas girl, being adaptable is in my blood. Let’s do this.

We woke up Saturday morning, ate a fantastic country breakfast of biscuits and eggs at the ranch’s dining hall, and met our fellow ranch-goers – Jersey, Maverick and the Minnesota Twins*. We were ready to start our day at the ranch! While sipping the last of our coffee, in walks our ranch hand, Dish*. Dish was stuck somewhere between Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove and reality. He was dressed in all the necessary cowboy gear (hat, spurs, scarf around the neck) and completed his ranch hand look with a classic handlebar/horseshoe-styled mustache. We soon learned that Dish was not very good at telling jokes, and by that I mean made several inappropriate comments to me, Jersey and one of the Minnesota Twins. For example, and I take the liberty of EXTREME paraphrasing, “Ma’am, the saddle horn is not your husband’s……so don’t grab on to it like it is.” You get the idea. But, again, I’m a Texas girl and can deal with this so-called cowboy.

Fast forward to roping lessons, where Cowboy Curly*, the owner of the ranch, taught us the proper way to rope a pretend cow and a barrel – yours truly was having a hard time with the concept and I ended up only roping myself. Cowboy Curly clearly knows the concept of the weakest link, aka me, and proceeded to single me out and constantly yelled at me for doing it incorrectly. But, I’m a true-blue Texas girl and kept saying, “No sir, those aren’t tears welling up in my eyes. Those are my allergies.” That was my story, anyway. I eventually learned how to flip my wrists correctly and even got a chance to rope the pretend cow on my horse. Yee haw!

I thought that after my dramatic roping lesson, we had seen the worst of Cowboy Curly’s mean side. Boy, were we wrong. He gathered us all inside the corral, lit his cigarette and asked if any of us had good balance. (By the way, if he lit his cigarette, that meant we were all in for some serious SH@T.) Yours truly, thinking about all of those mornings where, in heels, I carry my 27lb son in one hand and a diaper bag in the other, raised my hand and said, “I think I have good balance.” Famous last words! Next thing I knew, he had me standing on a horse. Yes, you heard me correctly. I stood, on the saddle, on top of a horse. I was furious at Cowboy Curly for making me do it, but extremely proud of myself at the same time! How many people can say they have stood on the back of a horse?

The next hour consisted of learning how to ride our horses around barrels – where Jersey, one of the Minnesota Twins and I were constantly being yelled at and berated by Cowboy Curly. With a lit cigarette barely hanging from his month, Cowboy Curly shouted, “What in the hell are you doing!?” “The $%^@ horse doesn’t speak English, kick ‘em!” “Are you listening to a $%&@ word I’m telling you?” “This isn’t some walk in the park, ride the #$%# horse!” At one point, I asked Dish to hold my horse’s reins so I could fix my ponytail – he looked at me like I had three heads. At the end of the day, we had all had it up to here with being yelled at by Cowboy Curly and Dish’s “sense of humor.” After a few beers, some laughs and a good dinner, we all headed up to the campfire to relax and roast marshmallows. Cowboy Curly joined our campfire and proceeded to tell us the most beautiful story I’d ever heard about the real Texas Cowboys and how their story is woven into the fabric of American and world history. We were all pleasantly surprised at how much the spirit of the Texas Cowboy meant to Cowboy Curly. I think I even saw a tear welling up in his eye. Was this the same man who, only hours earlier, was calling us every name in the book?

Today, I’m back in my office, back to my kids, and back to reality. But I can’t stop thinking about my weekend at the ranch, and how it strangely reminds me of my job as a PR professional and some of the clients/industry associates that I’ve worked with.

PR and ranch owner, as professions, are not for the faint of heart. Each is often a behind-the-scenes, thankless, and ruthless job. You have to have thick skin and be able to weather the hard times with grace and true grit. And just like on the ranch, PR professionals come across some very colorful characters on a weekly basis. Whether an editor or client, we’ve all met someone like Dish before – socially awkward and downright weird. But at the end of the day, they really do mean well. You just have to get to know them to understand and truly appreciate who they really are.

Then there are the Cowboy Curly’s of the world, the ones that keep pushing and pushing until you think you just can’t be pushed any more. But people like Cowboy Curly are special. They are the ones who bring out the best in you, and you work hard as hell to make them happy. Though at the time it may seem impossible, aka standing on a horse, they bring you out of your comfort zone and give you the “Atta girl!” for your accomplishment. I wish there were more people out there like Cowboy Curly.

As for me, I can’t stop thinking about the song “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” by Brooks and Dunn. There are plenty of times that I’ve wanted to cry about something a client or editor said or did, and I have, plenty of times. But after 12 years working in this business, I’ve learned the importance of getting back in the saddle after a bad day. Who knows, maybe I’ll be a Cowgirl Curly someday.

Cowgirls don’t cry
Ride, baby, ride
Lessons in life are going to show you in time
Soon enough you’re gonna know why
It’s gonna hurt every now and then
If you fall get back on again
Cowgirls don’t cry

*All names, except for my husband, in this blog have been changed to protect the privacy of others.