I grew up surrounded by cowboys, real cowboys. Oh sure, there were plenty "all hat and no cattle" type, city cowboys. They were the ones without dust in the wheels of their trucks and big dents in the side panels where livestock smashed into them. The real cowboys had sweat stains for hat bands and hands rough as bark. Real cowboys made John Wayne look like a sissy.
As a young man I somehow found myself at my uncles on branding day. I didn't like the cattle ranch. I was there to pick up a car I had purchased and get out of there as quick as possible. The next thing I knew, I had been roped into helping with the branding. The problem was, I didn't have boots. In cowboy world, not having boots is a mortal sin. Unfortunately, my aunt had rather large feet for a woman and announced in front of everyone, she was sure she had a pair that would fit me. She returned with a boot box and handed it to me. "If they fit you can keep them," she said. Against my better judgement I opened the box. The scent of fresh leather filled my nose before I got the lid all the way off. There they were, fire engine red cowgirl boots. They fit.
The imagination could never reach the pinnacle of razzing I endured throughout the day. My response was a smile, taking solace, knowing I was holding my own. The kidding didn't stop at dinner. Finally, holding a chunk of dessert, watermelon from the garden, I gave the table the satisfaction of a reply. I said smugly, "If I Were a Cowboy, I Would Wear Red Boots." I was never asked to help with branding again.