He decides to wear his western clothes for the trip to Mali and France. He scrapes the manure off the boots and polishes them to a battered shine, spot cleans the hat and has it reshaped, checks the jeans for tears to be mended, buys a new western jacket, sportcoat style, and a couple of new shirts.
First stop – Mali.
“Texas!” the kids call out.
“No, Canada,” he says.
“Texas!” They insist and there is no changing their minds.
“Marlboro Man,” they screech with delight.
“No, Canada,” he says, but Marlboro Man he remains.
Who knew westerns were so popular in the sub sahara?
He goes to Timbouctou and receives the same warm reception. Here he demonstrates riding a horse along with sound effects. The boys gathered around giggle and roll on the sand, then jump up and demonstrate camel ridin,g again with sound effects. It’s his turn to laugh.
Second stop – Avignon.
“Cowboy,” the children scream. A grade six school group from Spain, all of them speaking perfect French. “Cowboy,” they holler and the cameras are out and up close. There must be 6,000 pictures of the cowboy’s belt buckle and little else on the kids’ cameras.
Third stop – Paris.
Young men see his hat and look immediately at his feet. The battered boots invariably receive an appreciative and approving nod.
But it’s the elderly, immaculately dressed and coiffed French women, who provide the greatest delight.
They look up, bat their eyes, and say flirtatiously, “Quel beau chapeau, monsieur.”
He grins, doffs his hat, and bows slightly. His wife groans and does her best to ignore it all.