The Wasatch Behind: Brokeback sheepherders, Willie Nelson and fresh air
"Those Brokeback Mountain gay cowboys are really sheepherders," Uncle Spud said with a big smile. "I heard it yesterday from a liberated woman who actually paid to see the show."
"What difference does that make?" I asked.
"Lots of difference," Uncle spud said, "Only Hollywood people would call sheepherders cowboys. They don't know the difference out there on the left coast."
"Lets not say anything bad about sheepherders," I warned. "Some of my best friends have been mutton conductors. The Wasatch Behind was settled by a bunch of Greek, Italian, and French sheepherders. This valley is one of the few places Brigham Young didn't want. He left it to the coyotes, outlaws, and immigrant sheep men. We have a long and proud tradition of working with woolies here."
"I know all about it," Uncle Spud said. "In fact, you probably didn't know that Utah was originally named after a sheep. She was an especially sweet and doe-eyed little ewe Ã¯Â¿Â½or so I've been told. Our great state was originally named Ewe-tah, in her honor."
"You have got to get more air," I said as I jerked open a window. "Your cooling fan must have quit and your brains are melting down from lack of oxygen."
"Oh no," he insisted, "It's true. Utah wasn't spelled with a "U" until after we applied for statehood. To license all of those state vehicles we had to have the name of the state on the license plates. The couth control cops who run the vanity license plate office said that the name Ewe-tah was inappropriate. Some super citizen might associate that name with animal cruelty, barnyard blasphemy, or bestiality. I guess it must be true. No one ever pulled the wool over the eyes of the Utah couth control cops."
"So what does all this have to do with gay cowboys and brokeback mountain?" I asked, secretly hoping that he wouldn't go there.
"Nothing really," Uncle Spud said, "but I thought you might like to know that we are entering phase two of this brokeback mountain thing already."
"Phase two?" I asked.
"Yes," he said. "The Hollywood people have a four phased agenda at work here. The first phase is to release the movie. Phase two is to generate all types of celebrity endorsements. Phase three is to give the movie all sorts of awards. Phase four is to label everyone who didn't buy a ticket as bigots and homophobes. After all, it's destined to be a classic, award winning movie."
"I think we went to phase four right after I wrote that first brokeback mountain column a couple of weeks ago," I said. "You should have read my mail."
"It's sure to get worse after this one," he smiled, "but we are only in the celebrity endorsement phase so far. In fact, to help move the alternative lifestyle agenda along, Willie Nelson has recorded a gay cowboy song. He said the song has been in his closet for 20 years and the timing is right to release it now."
"I'll bet he didn't sing it at the Grand Ole Opry." I said with a smile.
"You got that right," Uncle Spud chuckled. "A guy might experience serious stage fright singing a gay cowboy song at the Grand Ole Opry. Actually, he put it out on the Howard Stern satellite radio program on Valentine's Day. Guys like Stern understand these things."
"So what does a gay cowboy song sound like?" I asked as I opened another window and drew water to wash my hands.
"Well," Uncle Spud said, "It's a pretty typical Willie Nelson song, sort of a cross between Janis Joplin and Hank Williams. The lyrics are a little bizarre. One line says that inside every cowboy there's a lady who would love to slip out."
"Inside every cowboy?" I asked with a raised eyebrow.
"That's what the song says," Uncle Spud grinned.
"You had better let her out or she's going to get sick from that dirty T-shirt you're wearing," I said.
"Naw," he laughed. "If she's been there all these years she ain't goin' nowhere now."
"How does Willie know there's a woman inside every cowboy?" I asked.
"Willie's a guy who should know," Uncle Spud smiled. "He's been wearing pigtails like Raggedy Ann since the early 1970s.
"Bummer." I said.