The Cowboy Code: Chapter 10, Accidental Charity
It has nothing to do with cattle hustlers. Rather it's the guideline by which young gentlemen should deal with one another these days, where women are concerned. There have always been different names for it, but as far back as I can think - back to college more than 10 years ago, it has been the Cowboy Code.
It's the Cowboy Code that dictates thou shalt not ask your buddy's ex-girlfriend out on a date ever! Or at least not without his prior blessing and waiting six months to a year after their breakup.
The Cowboy Code says that if your buddy's girlfriend tries to trap him through you, by asking you if he really was hanging out with you last night, you don't give him up. You don't have to lie for him. But you smoothly give a neutral answer and then change the subject as soon as possible.
And the Cowboy Code says that no matter how big your crush on a woman is and regardless of whether you saw her first, if she seems more into your buddy than you, you should not keep trying as a sore loser would. You should step aside and graciously concede defeat.
So I was catching up with a good buddy, whom I consider a best friend - and I don't toss "best" around lightly. And he reminded me of a semi-funny situation that occurred in a booze hole in Milwaukee, shortly after Mrs. B and I got engaged. He reminded me, 'cause just last weekend he encountered the same situation and wasn't sure how to respond.
Here's the deal: Shortly after our engagement, I left work one evening with several buddies and strolled a few blocks to Milwaukee's Water Street bar row and we tipped a couple of pints. Mrs. B called and said she was wrapping up work and would join us for one if we didn't mind. We didn't.
Anyway, it was winter time. Colder than the girl who rejected my prom invite in senior year. And Mrs. B was bundled up in knit hat, scarf, mittens, etc. So when she arrived and spotted us, she detoured to the bar to place her order before joining us. Well, two young lions, fresh from their office stood next to her at the bar. And when the bartender brought Mrs. B's glass, one of the young lions hurriedly plunked money on the bar and said he'd get it. It was loud and crazy in there. Mrs. B tried to protest. He shushed her and insisted. She shrugged it off, and then took off her mittens so she could better hold the glass, and that's when the young lion saw the ring. He didn't say anything, but he turned beet red and turned away, apparently frustrated.
The exact same sort of scenario happened to my buddy over the weekend, except he was with a date, not a girlfriend, and not a fiance. The bar wasn't very crowded or loud. And in his case the guy who had bought his date a drink actually protested after the fact.
Now, when this happened several years ago, I felt bad for the young lion. He didn't know any better. And all because he didn't see Mrs. B's ring at first, he was out a few bucks. My instinct was to offer him the $3 or $4 he'd spent or to get his next round. But he was too proud to accept his money back as consolation prize, or a free drink. So I dropped it.
Faced with the same scenario, my buddy didn't even offer the cash or a drink to the slighted guy.
I don't know that our situations were any different. Or maybe they were, since I was with my then fiancee, and my buddy was with a first or second-time date.
The way I see it, Mrs. B had mittens on, so the guy who bought her drink couldn't have known at first that she was taken. And I gave him the benefit of the doubt that had he seen her ring up front, he wouldn't have offered to buy her drink.
My buddy? I sort of feel that since the place wasn't loud and crazy, and people could actually hear themselves talk, when they "buyer" paused for a breath the date could have spoken up and said she was with someone. Also, when you buy anyone anything in a bar, results are not guaranteed. There is a good chance they won't even say thank you, much less fall for you. So it's usually buyer beware.
Maybe I'm being a hypocrite. But I don't think so. Therefore, it's my judgment that my guy did not violate the Cowboy Code. What say you?