You do not call a bunch of cattle a “band”, of course. But Irene Delmose was new to Montana and had not yet learned that cattle were “herds” and sheep were “bands.” She did know geese were gaggles, and bees were “swarms” or “hives;” and she loved that ravens were “murders.” It might be noted that in Montana there were only herds, bands and flocks—and hives, of course. Everything pretty much fit into one of these categories. If it was hoofed it was either a “herd” or a “band.” If it had feathers, or otherwise could not be classified, it was a flock. Except bees, of course; bees were “hives.” There was some leniency in this Montana system in that sheep, while usually called “band” could also be referred to as “herd” or “flock.” But cattle always were a “herd.” You did not call cattle anything as trifling as a “band” or “flock.” So, Irene’s way of collectivizing the birds, the beasts, and the bees was considered, by the cowboys she found in the bars, both illiterate and effete.
However, there is something you need to know about Irene Delmose. And this is that, despite her linguistic limitations, she had the attention of any barroom of cowboys she walked into. This was because she was a looker. And I don’t mean that she was a person who looked around, saw what she saw, and made something of it—though she was that. I mean that she was also what a typical Montana cowboy would call “looker.” In other words—to use the term in popular usage—she was eye-candy. She was a slender five-eight with bright green eyes and a sassy fluff of copper hair that frizzed and floated her too-white white hat. Please note that I did not say “skinny.” Cowboy’s do not appreciate starvation, and they certainly did appreciate Ms. Delmose, and she certainly wasn’t anorexia skinny. She curved in all the places cowboys expect curves to be; and her jeans fit perfectly. Her boots were a bit over-tooled, but then, so were many of the cowboys’ boots.
What Irene had said was, “A whole band of cows. On the—OMG—on the road. It was so cool.”
As might be expected, this misnomering of the collective only enhanced the allure for the barroom of Cowboys along the bar; they leaned to be nearer this looker. They were figuring that anybody with such a limited vocabulary was probably dumb as cow—though a pretty good looker of cow. You might extol the virtues of cowboys and their peculiar sensitivity to vocabulary when it comes to business; but others of those virtues, those virtues on the dissembling side of virtue, come in to play when the objective is attempted seduction.
“Waaaaaal,” Donny Verbit drawled. His drawl was phony as a Texas mile; but it had its appeal. “Waaaaaaal,” he drawled. “I can get ya on a herd a cows out in the wild, not just prancing along U.S. 287.”
“O, I’ve seen cows,” Irene said. She let her eyes drift up and down from Donny’s square-set town hat to his bright red over-tooled boots. She took his gauge. What she saw was mostly talk, but otherwise, his oggle was not totally unpleasing, a bit on the animal side of polite, but not unpleasing. She figured he was maybe a .22.
“Ya, well, Donny means, out in the wild. Wild cows, whole herds of wild cows.” This was Phil Ossle. Phil didn’t wear a hat, but his boots had a polish on them that shined—the silver tips positively glittered. Irene did her gauge of him, gave him the same over-look as she had done to Donny, and what she saw was less windy, but a bit more dangerous than Donny, pure ogle, all lust. Maybe a ten gauge—but birdshot, full scatter, hurtful, but not usually fatal.
She grinned. “You mean buffalo?” She meant, of course, that in North America there were no wild cows, unless you were talking bison.
This was a bit more than either Donny or Phil or any other in this barroom of cowboys could handle. They could talk cows till the cows came home. But buffalo was out of their league. Buffalo were for rich folk like the guy who was once married to that Hanoi Hanna.
But Donny plunged on; “Waaaaaaal, if you want buffalo, we could head up to the park. Or we could drive Turner’s. Turner has some up North a here.” He was referring to Ted Turner, a American rich guy who owned a couple dozen Montana bison ranches.
“Turner wouldn’t let you within a philanderer’s lying mile a his buff,” Richie Marquet said. Irene turned to give him the same gauging over-look she had given Donny and Phil. What she saw was the grin of another cowboy scoping her bosom and butt through his bottle bottom specs. But this one was probably a weak caliber .17. despite the 20×20 scopes.
“I happen to be going to see Ted tomorrow,” she said, “As a matter of fact.” This was a lie, of course. But this barroom of cowboys did not know that. In their beer fogged brains, red headed “Curve-in-all-those-Places” did not have the cerebral acuity to dissemble. It wasn’t that they thought she wouldn’t lie; but that they believed she couldn’t even fib. So, their ogle went from pure lust to mild-not-quite-disinterest. Donny, sat back raised an eyebrow at the frizz of copper hair and sniffed. Phil, frowned at the over-tooled boots, trying to remember when he had last seen Turner—if he had, so he could lean the conversation his way. He couldn’t. Richie just took another swig of his beer, and adjusted his specs on the curves to an askance leer.
“Anyway,” Irene concluded as she sauntered her sassy red hair, and curves-in-the-right-places out the door, “the collective term for Montana Cowboys is of course ‘Barroom.'”
“A Barroom of Cowboys,” she said to the early evening air. “Or ogle. Ogle of Cowboys might work, too.”