All Hat and No Cattle

cowboy costume

When I was in college, I traveled with a friend to visit her family in Alabama. We both got ready for church on Sunday morning. But when my friend walked down the stairs, her very sophisticated beautiful mother said with a pure Alabama drawl, “Dahlin’, that dress is as wrinkled as a dog’s behind.” I had never heard that saying. I laughed out loud but not too loud. I didn’t want her mama to say, “Your friend is louder than a cicada at bedtime.”

I’ve been known to use my own unusual phrases when it comes to children. “Give me a hug, you little cheesy biscuit.” “Come on over here, you little cocoa bean.” “I could just pour you on a pancake and eat you for breakfast.” I know. I know. There’s a definite food theme at work in my personal life. Can we just choose not to over-analyze that right now? Yeah, thanks. I don’t want to be as depressed as a turkey the day before Thanksgiving.

I’ve always been fascinated with southern sayings or western wisdom. I recently heard for the first time a phrase that I absolutely love. All hat and no cattle. A brilliant picture in a few simple words. Because I’ve spent most of my life in the great state of Texas, I can assure you that a big expensive cowboy hat doesn’t always indicate a ranch full of cattle. Sometimes the biggest hats are worn by suburban residents who eat scones, drink cappuccino, and never get their hands dirty. And sometimes those with the most cattle wear old unimpressive hats which mark them as a commoner not a cattle baron.

But of course we all know that the term “All hat and no cattle” is not about hats or about cattle. It’s about something far deeper. When speaking to young people, I often exhort them, “The more time you spend telling people how awesome you are, the less likely they are to believe it.” The more you work on your outward impression, the less time you’re able to devote to your inward character. When someone who is deeply in debt drives a big expensive car it’s an example of all hat and no cattle. When a person brags about his high-paying job it always sounds like all hat and no cattle. Why? Because people with high-paying jobs don’t tend to talk like that. When someone constantly explains the sheer brilliance of their child in comparison to all the “regular” children out there, it’s an example of all hat and no cattle. Insecurity tends to produce that kind of jargon.

As a true Texan, I can tell you that a well-crafted cowboy hat is a beautiful thing. Impressive. The problem? You can’t eat a cowboy hat. Someone somewhere has to own a field of cattle. But I’m not worried. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. And that thought makes me happy. Happier than a pig in slop. (Again, don’t over-analyze that please.)

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ruthe
    Sep 09, 2014 @ 13:53:00

    How did I ever live without your wisdom??!!


  2. Barb P.
    Sep 09, 2014 @ 14:38:56

    This is hilarious! You putting out some great content. I really enjoy reading what you have to say. Keep it up!


  3. Jo Caudle
    Sep 10, 2014 @ 00:34:35

    Lisa, thank you for sharing your wonderful God- given , sense of humor!…..


  4. Marcia
    Sep 12, 2014 @ 18:08:20

    Lisa, as I read your humor columns, I can almost hear the Lord chuckle! But then I figure that’s where you get your ideas! 🙂 You are blessed!!! And then you turn around and bless others!!!


  5. Daryl Byford
    Oct 01, 2014 @ 23:11:44

    Thanks Lisa for this wisdom. I am now humbled to know not to rant on FB about the glories of my knowledge on Dietetics and Ag. I do this occasionally, when someone in my family posts totally bogus information. I’ll try harder not to be ‘ALL HAT AND NO CATTLE’.


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