A Few Tips if You Are Coming to Montana or just reading this Blog:
Montana is where an “outfit” is something you drive, not wear; where “gant” means hungry and not a well-known shirt maker; where a #2 Mexican Drag Line is a shovel and not second-string Carmen Miranda impersonators and “Casting a Cow” means tying her down on the ground rather than getting her a good part in “City Slickers IV”.
1. Locals don’t use “pissy” as in “Boy was he pissy this morning!” Instead they use “gnarly”, “owly”, “snaky”, “high-headed” or “on the prod”. I definitely get “owly” (wide eyed) when I talk politics. I start pawing the ground and rearing my head just like one of my cows. My husband then usually herds me out of the room before I “take somebody”.
2. Cowboy Up” is a much used term for a kind of stoicism that at its best is about “making do”. It means “get on with it” instead of standing around whining. The hay has to be cut, the cows need to be fed, and whenever something breaks, you just fix it. The flip side of this Cowboy way is to not go to a doctor until there is a bone sticking out of your pants leg. The term also comes in handy for a rancher whenever his wife needs something done around the house.
Maven: “Honey, the plumbing just broke.
Mike: “Oh, Cowboy up . Just use the bushes.”
2a. Other “up” words include “prove up” which means that you’ve proven that you’re OK by wrestling a calf to the ground without getting shit all over the back of your jeans. You have to “prove up” almost every year with increasingly difficult tasks like keeping a smile on your face while trying to choke down some chewy soggy fried calves’ nuts. (I prefer mine sauteed in a little white wine and served with a shallot saffron cream sauce. Yum.)
3. “Nice speakin’ atcha” is used instead of “Goodbye”
4. Most people in the country have no addresses but live on or near a creek (pronounced “crik”) which can be upper or lower or east or west. Gets a bit confusing at times. “Turn left where Upper Deer Creek joins Lower Otter; a ways past East Porcupine on the way to the West Beaver.” Try that after 3 Margaritas!
5. You’ll rarely see anyone walking down the street in town. ( “Why walk when you can ride?” ). So you’ll see someone in Big Timber, for example, get into the car at the Post Office, drive a half a block down, park and get out to go into the Ben Franklin. Then, if they have to go to Cole Drug which is kitty corner to where they are , they will need to jump in the car, turn right on 2nd Street and then circle round the block in order to park in the right direction in front of the drug store.
8.While driving, put your index finger even with your nose and then give a slight point away from your face when a familiar “outfit” goes by or even if you don’t know who the hell it was. This custom comes from tipping one’s hat to say “Howdy”.
9. Never tap a cowboy on his shoulder from behind, he’s libel to turn and deck you.
Be especially careful during Rodeo Week. And never, never touch his hat.
9a. Never call a rancher’s spread, a farm. Farmers live east and north of here.
9b. Remember; the bigger the hat, the smaller the…. spread.
10. Montanans are generally some of the most independent people one can meet in the good old USA. On the plus side, they won’t bother you much and on the minus side it can make them a bit ornery. Discuss politics and wear wolf T-Shirts at your peril.
11. Bunny Huggers are much reviled by locals. They are assumed to be mostly from
California or occasionally from out East (which my husband says is anywhere east of Miles City, Montana). They are seen as responsible for wolves in Yellowstone, high property values, lines at supermarkets, shorts on people who shouldn’t wear them, floods, droughts (pronounced drouth here) and pestilence.
11. Be prepared to be considered a g.d bunny hugger a.k.a. g.d. tree hugger a.k.a
g.d Californian until you exchange a beer or two. Then you’ll be deemed a “nice fella or gal” even if you are a g.d. bunny-tree-huggin-Californian.
A final word of advice: Don’t try to fit in. It just won’t work. Enjoy the differences just like you would in any foreign country like Italy or Taiwan. Just like anywhere else people are pretty much bunched into three categories; the good, the bad and the downright ugly. And just like in that movie by Clint, goodness is not easy to recognize right off the bat or hat, so to speak (although I still believe that hairdo can be an indicator of wholeness and well-being and I am beginning to think that the simpler the “do”, the happier the person). So respect the local customs and enjoy a return to the kick of cholesterol.
So, that’ll do ‘er. It won’t be a bad-type-deal at all havin’ you here. Yoooooou Betcha!