Howdy Law Amendment Travels to Senate

(Barnacle-on-Potomac) Western hospitality is alive an well after weeks in the House of Representatives. That’s where the populist Howdy Law has been hanging its’ Stetson since September.

Originally bulldogged into law by the Montrose (Colorado) City Council and quickly approved by the County Commissars, the Howdy Law has received quite a little press since it’s virgin implementation at this Western Colorado town in 1994. Lots of other municipalities and counties have adopted the legislation. Some have written it into city and county ordinances while others have simply encouraged the local population to live by the simple do unto others creed that is inherent to a healthy society.

The Howdy Law, as originally written, simply calls for outward signs of friendliness by saying Howdy to people one encounters on the street. It endorses gregariousness as a way of life and the end result is a happier, thriving population. For old timers it’s the only acceptable way to be, and is therefore comfortable in all social exchanges. For the urban refugee it is restorative and hygienic. It allows the soul to bloom in its new environs.

Now the federals are on the verge of passing legislation that would adopt the Howdy Law as the edict of note and quite possibly the prescription for what ails us as a nation. In most cultures a greeting is basic. Here in the suburb-choked, dollar-days USA we are more likely to run someone over with our shiny new car than slow down to belt out an topical hello.

At first the local Howdy Law was based on the honor system but after a few months a person could expect a toothless summons for any sign of animosity in the face of such a greeting. To be sure there were those who said their right to be anti-social was being eroded and the civil libertarians jumped into the fray. A lawsuit was filed and people got haute and hot. Fortunately the paperwork was mysteriously misplaced and the court records allegedly remain stashed under a pile of dog-at-large citations and drunk driving plea bargains in the quart house storm cellar.

In 1996, then Governor Roy Romero signed a breakthrough bill that adopted the Howdy Law all across the state. It became the bible for the tourist industry with dude ranches teaching their little dudes and dudettes to employ it on trail rides and ski areas demanding that their close-cropped employees say Howdy to visitors as many as 200 times per day.

What these greenhorn mercantilists often don’t remember is that the whole thing started here on the banks of the Uncompahgre River where the concept of Howdy is as natural as clear blue skies and as sure as  sagebrush perfume. Despite rampant growth and questionable land use over the past years Montrose remains a friendly place. Even the cops say Howdy, then they put on the cuffs.

Do some of us think friendly is not cosmopolitan or sophisticated enough? The other evening in what was once a small town I stood in the checkout line at the grocery. There were lots of people there that I had never seen. No one spoke. Suddenly in my advanced state of Holy Joe judgment I realized two things, 1.) I was the only person, in elephant pants, a Hawaiian shirt and cowboy boots 2.) In my attempt to get on with the purchase of whipped cream and green chili salsa I didn’t say anything to anyone either.

Estrangement often predicates violence as the disaffected act out their fatal frustrations. We don’t have to bring up road rage or kids with guns to illustrate that point (the man on TV does that for us every hour on the hour). Maybe a crisp Hello In There, as song writer John Prine puts it, could defuse the situation. The feds seem to think so, and isn’t that entity infallible in matters of benevolent dictation?

Enough preaching. If all goes according to plan the Senate will vote on this matter of mandatory greeting tomorrow and the Howdy Law will be in the books (allow six to eight weeks for delivery) In other business, the legislative body will, in what critics are calling another pay raise masquerade, cast a final vote this week on whether to allow service animals into the chamber. How do?

– Kashmir Horseshoe


Filed Under: Soft News


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