“… that was the first time Adabella had seen a blond boy, a real one. Everyone in the Rocíos’ piece of the llano was dark-haired, except for the few women who combed peroxide through each Sunday. Las rubias de bote, her mother called them, bottle blondes. But Buckley Carver had come that way, and to Adabella it was as strange as the pink horses her cousins swore roamed some far corner of the plain, though they knew of no one who had seen one himself.”
-From “She Don’t Stay the Night”
When homeless teen Buckley Carver ends up on the Rocio family’s land, narrator Adabella has rarely seen a white man, and has never seen a blond one before. Her cousins quickly nickname Buckley el caballo blanco—the white horse. But over the next few years, Buckley slowly becomes part of the family’s lives and livelihood as he learns the ways of the vaquero, the Mexican predecessor to the North American cowboy.
So why did I write a white vaquero? Most of my main characters are Latino, so why not follow suit with my vaquero?
I wanted Buckley Carver to be as unfamiliar to Adabella as the vaquero would be to many readers picking up Cowboy Lust. To Adabella, vaqueros look like her cousins—tan, dark-haired, singing corridos at night. Buckley, on the other hand, is pale, fair-haired, quiet, and doesn’t sing at all. Just as the traditional vaquero differs from what has become the familiar image of the North American cowboy, Buckley differs from the other men who work on the Rocios’ land.
As unexpected as how he looks is to Adabella, even more unexpected is how he takes to and respects vaquero tradition, and defers to Adabella’s father, mother and cousins. He learns the vaquero way of life, but at the same time, he learns to be part of the land and the community. Buckley may look nothing like Adabella or her family, but the Rocios become the only family he has.
To many readers, the vaquero will be an unfamiliar incarnation of the cowboy. To me, the vaquero, with his faja and espuelas, is the image of the cowboy I know. Part of why I love anthologies like Cowboy Lust is the chance to bring together many different takes on an iconic figure. What does he look like to you?
Anna Meadows is a part-time executive assistant, part-time housewife. Find out more at http://meadowstories.blogspot.com/.