[My first crush was Wild Bill Hickok, not the actual guy but the guy who
My first crush was Wild Bill Hickok, not the actual guy but the guy who portrayed him
on TV, Guy Madison, who died of emphysema, whose grandson was killed in action in Iraq.
What did cowboys do all day I wondered. Aside from gunfighting. Figuring out whether
they’d be good or bad, which determined the color of the hat. My hat, how did my mother
afford it, bought at West’s Variety, powder blue. My gun, a toy. I was wise enough at age
three to own my projections. I would become what I loved. My mother didn’t hover as I
decided what I’d do with what I was. Her best friend made a particle-board lid for the crib
so she could go out on the cement slab and drink highballs, unimpeded by kids, who all
turned out fine and loved her madly, though half of them died young in motorcycle wrecks.
My mother didn’t care if I rescued or killed or swung from a noose until I was dead. That
was my domain. Her domain was TV dinners and James Joyce. Mikel’s first crush was the body
of a young hung TV cowboy who swung from the noose in a spiral pattern. Mikel called home
his projections and likewise died young and hung. I decided my kind of cowboy would read
tall tales from a tall book called Tall Tales about tornadoes and card games and white whales.