The Cowboys Tent is hard to describe unless you’ve been there and if you have, you know. 10 days, plus Sneak-A-Peek, it is way too long and not long enough. It is the best of humanity and the worst of humanity side by side. It is way too much alcohol, just enough alcohol and not enough by a long shot. It is country music, pop music, EDM and more. It is hot sweaty bodies and cool breezes tainted by the occasional smell of vomit in recycling bins. It is line-ups for gate entry, line-ups for food, line-ups for drinks, line-ups for bathrooms and line-ups to leave. It is meeting strangers, talking to strangers, dancing with strangers, and sometimes kissing strangers. It is single men who don’t want your number and married men who do and all the guys in between. It is the place you never want to go back to and yet return to year after year.
It is all that. But for me, it comes down to a few moments and people–Connections that had an impact. Let me tell you about The D. J., The No Good Scoundrels, and The Teacher.
The D. J. at the Cowboys Tent
There I was, on my phone as per usual, checking notifications to make sure that my accounts were in good shape before the night really got started.
“You shouldn’t be on your phone,” he said as he walked by with his friends. I glanced up quickly, smiled and went back to my business. He walked back by a minute later and tried to engage again with reprimands.
I wasn’t sure how to respond or even if I wanted to respond at all but when he said something about social media being a terrible thing, I was compelled to say, “Social media is my job and it is an amazing thing.”
He stopped and I asked him what he did for work. “I am a D.J.” he replied.
Fresh off the heels of a Gary Vee video, I pulled some quotes about his target market, where their attention was (on their devices) and why he was not being a smart businessman if he wasn’t on social media. He listened, pulled out his business card and said, “I need you, please email me.”Lesson #1 from the Cowboys Tent - The venue doesn't matter, business opportunities are everywhere when you know your value and speak kindly with a smile. @CowboysFestival Click To Tweet
No Good Scoundrel #1 at the Cowboys Tent
No Good Scoundrel #1 approached me with a charming, boy-next-door smile. Hands in his pockets, he was confident without being aggressive and I liked him right away. We danced, chatted, flirted…he pulled me close and we shared a little kiss. Then he lifted his hand and I saw it. A wedding ring.
The judgement I verbally rained down on No Good Scoundrel No. 1 was fueled with extra horror and disdain because of my recent disappointment in another man who was not honest with me about his relationship with other women…twice! (Shame on me the second time for not learning my lesson the first time.) When a stranger disrespects you and his partner like No Good Scoundrel #1 because let’s be honest, cheating on one and lying to another is the ultimate disrespect and disregard of everyone involved, it is a little easier to take than when it comes from someone you love and trust.Lesson #2 from the Cowboys Tent - Never assume the good intentions of another--Not everyone is as honest and kind as they appear to be. @cowboysfestival #BeALegend Click To Tweet
No Good Scoundrel #2 at the Cowboys Tent
No Good Scoundrel #2 was a bad boy from the start. Full disclosure, I love a bad boy and this one was a gorgeous, dominant, egotistical man who literally almost knocked me off my feet when he bumped into me on his way by. To his credit, he did notice and turned around (or maybe that was planned?) then immediately pulled me into a dance. He made me laugh, he made me blush, he made me shake my head in shock at his boldness.
His demands, not requests, should have been voiced after a third date, maybe. Not within ten minutes of eye contact, but still, I like a bad boy and I was amused and entertained. I countered with the suggestion of exchanging numbers (I know, I know, bad idea) and he shut that down with a simple, “No” and continued on with his pursuit until my friend removed me with the classic we-need-to-go-to-the-bathroom excuse.
Steps away, his spell lifted and my friend and I laughed while I thanked her for rescuing me from terrible life choices.Lesson #3 from the Cowboys Tent - No Good Scoundrels can be fun for a minute but you always need a wingman/woman to have your back. Never, ever party without a trusted friend who stays with you until the end. @cowboysfestival #YYC Click To Tweet
The Teacher at the Cowboys Tent
Okay, are you ready for my favourite moment at the Cowboys Tent? It’s more like twenty minutes but anyway, let me set the scene. As at many events, the washrooms end up being a place of brief but sweetly inspirational pep talks. Maybe it is the shared humanity of the situation, but more often than not, one woman will make eye contact with another while waiting in line or while washing her hands and compliment her outfit, lipstick or her hair. Within the privacy and quiet of the smaller space, strangers often feel comfortable asking for advice or to complain about a situation happening outside and everyone rallies like sisters who care.
This moment is same-same but different, and for me, it was better than a month of therapy.
His friend was talking to my friend when I came out of the washroom applying my Thieves hand sanitizer. He introduced himself, “Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a janitor.” I returned the introduction and noticed the intense look in his eyes as he laughed and said he wasn’t really a janitor, he just liked to weed out the people who don’t respond well to that statement. We all laughed and the conversation continued between the white portable toilet trailers and throngs of people lined up around us.
I don’t know how we got there but somewhere in the first few minutes, he revealed that he teaches kids with special needs and I told him about my 8-year-old son who has challenged me on so many levels. That is where the conversation turned. The Teacher honed in on me and became a conduit of forceful motivation and encouragement. No, strike that, encouragement is too soft a word for the words that were spoken. The Teacher was obscenely relentless as he ripped open his chest and exposed his heart for serving the needs of kids who do not learn well in the traditional manner.
“Your kid is a genius,” he exclaimed. “Your kid is f’n incredible, you know that, right?!”
And then, after we talked specifics and personal stories, “Your kid is miles ahead because of you! Thank you for being an invested parent!” and on, and on The Teacher poured life and hope and assurance into me. I took away advice and recommendations, a renewed love for humanity and an appreciation for people who care. I will never, ever forget The Teacher and I hope someday he knows how much of an impact he made standing at the bottom of the steps of a portable washroom trailer in the Cowboys Tent.
To be honest, I just might be hot for teacher.Lesson #4 from the Cowboys Tent - The world is full of free therapy and beautiful people right in the midst of chaos and disappointment. Be open and ready for the teachers and the lessons that are coming your way! #BeALegend… Click To Tweet