I recently woke up with John Wayne and a host of questions. And, no, they weren't answered with, "Well, I tell you, partner ..."
It was Saturday morning, and my son had been up for hours watching cowboys on AMC. Thanks to Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, Saturday morning cartoons are a thing of the past. These days at my house, it's westerns -- and questions.
"Is that what dynamite really looks like?"
"Why do they wear big hats?"
"What are corndodgers?"
And those are just a few of the ones I asked.
My son, of course, had it all figured out. He's 10 years old now, so that means he and his dad and cowboys are all starting to bond in a special way. It's the "women -- can't live with them, can't live without them" way. They think I haven't noticed, but it's all in the look.
In fact, when the Duke in "Rooster Cogburn" (and the Lady) -- the 1975 sequel to the 1969 western film "True Grit" -- expressed exasperation at Katharine Hepburn's character by saying something to the effect of, "And wait until they give them the right to vote," I saw my son give his dad that face. It's the "I-want-to-laugh-but-Mom-might-get-mad-so-I'm-just-going-to-glance-at-Dad-and-let-him-know-that-we-men-think-that-is-funny" face.
His dad recognized the look and immediately and wisely, I might add, gave him a quick shake of his head and the "No!-Don't-laugh!-I-know-it's-funny-but-don't-dare-laugh-out-loud" look.
"I saw that!" I said, which made him, yes, laugh out loud. Once he made sure I wasn't mad, that is.
"John Wayne may be able to get away with it, but you sure can't!" I told him.
Though it's a rough life, cowboy relationships probably do seem easier to a little boy.
"They either die or they get married," observed my son.
"I don't know which one is worse," said my husband, a glutton from punishment.
Then the two shot each other the "We-are-in-trouble-now-but-it's-too-funny-to-worry-about" look, to which I responded by giving them a look of my own. I'll leave the interpretation of that one to them.
Luckily for them, I have a soft spot for John Wayne and a certain 10-year-old boy. I soon found myself watching the movie and actually caring about where and when the nitroglycerin would explode. The "if" was never in question to anyone, but my son. He anxiously awaited the moment, and his enthusiasm and observations, such as "Man, cowboys get offended easily," made me happy I have a boy to watch westerns with.
When the big kaboom finally happened, I turned and gave my daughter, snuggled up next to me, a look, and then I granted her permission to change the channel to the new episode of "Cupcake Wars," followed by "Say yes to the dress."
It was then that she returned my look, and I knew just what it meant. It said, "I'm glad I'm not the only girl in the house, too."