The place: Way out west.
The time: Not that long ago.
The cast: Blond-haired, blue-eyed Young Man; gray-haired, grizzled Old Man.
Young Man: Tell me, Father, what’s “The Cowboy Way”?
Old Man: Son, we don’t talk “The Cowboy Way.” We live “The Cowboy Way.”
Young Man: But how’m I supposed to know what “The Cowboy Way” is if you won’t tell me?
Old Man: Son, you don’t ask. You know.
Young Man: Does everybody know?
Old Man: Everybody knows. Not everybody lives it.
Young Man: Do the churches know?
Old Man: The churches know. They don’t live it.
Young Man: Does the government know?
Old Man: The government knows. It doesn’t live it.
Young Man: Is it Rugged Individualism?
Old Man: Thinking things through and making up your own mind? That’s part of it but not all of it.
Young Man: Is it Self-Reliance?
Old Man: Taking care of yourself and
the ones you love? That’s part of it but not
all of it.
Young Man: Is it the Golden Rule?
Old Man: Doing for others what you do for yourself? That’s part of it, too, but not all of it.
Young Man: So what is all of it?
Old Man: Four words, Son: “Do the right thing.”
Young Man: “Do the right thing”? But how do I know what the right thing to do is?
Old Man: You know. Everybody knows. Everybody’s born knowing. Problem is, some folks forget it and other folks ignore it. That’s why God made cowboys: to help the folks who forgot to remember and to remind the folks who ignore it why that’s the wrong thing to do.
Young Man: Is that why the Riders in the Sky are coming to the Power Center?
Old Man: That’s right. Ever since Bob Wills and Tex Ritter and Gene Autry and Roy Rogers passed on, the Riders have been America’s favorite singing cowboys. These days, they’re the only fellas this side of Clint Eastwood who know what “The Cowboy Way” is — and Clint don’t sing.
Young Man: And is that why the Riders — Ranger Doug, Woody Paul, Too Slim, and Joey the Cowpolka King — are going to be doing one of their Riders Radio Theater shows?
Old Man: That’s right. They reckon by turning “The Cowboy Way” into an adventure story and mixing in songs and humor, they can get across to you young folks just exactly what makes this country of ours great.
Young Man: Are you going to see the Riders in the Sky, Father?
Old Man: ‘Course I am, Son. We all are. It’s good for the whole family.
Young Man: So when is the show?
Old Man: The eighth of July. It’s a Saturday night, of course.
[Review published July 2006]