The City Council voted unanimously at their March 20th meeting to change the official nickname of New Brunswick from Hub City to Cowboy’s Junction. The statues in Monument Square and in front of the Zimmerli Art Museum were affixed with black Stetsons of their own this morning in celebration of the change.
The eponymous Cowboy referenced by the new nickname is a mysterious stranger who sauntered into new Brunswick some six years back and has remained a fixture at the city’s cocktail bars and college dives ever since. Generally known by the nom de guerre The Rutgers Cowboy, or more often simply The Cowboy, other sobriquets include El Vaquero (among New Brunswick’s thriving Latino community) and The Scarlet Knight (most often on NBPD’s police blotter and other official statements from local law enforcement).
Speculation remains rampant as to the true identity of The Cowboy. His penchant for purchasing a plethora of expensive cocktails for many of New Brunswick’s most eligible (and sometimes ineligible) bachelorettes has given rise to theories that The Cowboy is a man of considerable means. His constant presence in New Brunswick’s nightlife late into the early hours of most weeknights lends further credence to the whispers that he is independently wealthy. Such evidence, alongside his telltale Midwestern twang, has give rise to the theory that The Cowboy is an oil magnate from Texas or Oklahoma.
Others, such as Mu Alpha Tau sorority president Shelley Darlington, claim to hear a distinct drawl in his voice and cite his well-bred manners when speculating that he’s a proper southern gentleman, old money from deep in Dixie. “Perhaps Georgia or Mississippi?” speculates Shelley. “Although he did buy our entire sorority shots of Jack Daniels at the Golden Rail on several occasions, so maybe Lynchburg, Tennessee.’
Still others, such as local karaoke fiend Violet Sanford, are in agreement about Tennessee as a likely provenance for The Cowboy, though she speculates Nashville as a possible layover in whatever nomadic wanderings led him to New Brunswick. “The Cowboy rocks a great rendition of ‘Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)’ by Big & Rich most evenings. But he’s got a gruff timber like Dylan, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a failed record deal in his recent past.”
Whatever came before the reverse carpetbagger made his way north of the Mason-Dixon, the scuttlebut surrounding his current comings and goings is equally riveting. “The Cowboy” is frequently invoked by bystanders and eye witnesses in numerous police reports as having saved several dozen denizens of New Brunswick. Uttering that name is reputedly verboten among the superstitious and cowardly criminal element of the city.
According to Detective Harvey Bullock ot the Major Crimes Unit, “Official policy is to arrest the vigilante known as ‘The Cowboy’ on sight.” A bulletin board in his office profiling those wanted for questioning features Tim McGraw, Wyatt Earp, and Michael J. Fox circa Back to the Future Part III. “The investigation is ongoing” claims Bullock.
But other sources shared that the relationship between NBPD and The Cowboy is more chummy than appearances suggest. According to one anonymous source in the department, “The Cowboy is a duly deputized officer of the law in New Brunswick, and Police Chief Clancy O’Hara has a direct line to the Hero of Hub City installed in a conspicuous red phone on his desk.”
This reporter is dubious of all such speculation and claims. Having never seen The Cowboy – and having never been seen with The Cowboy – I’m doubtful of his very existence. More likely, The Cowboy is nothing more than a local legend, a tall tale told by one outgoing class of college students to the next with no basis in fact. Whether his identity – or very existence – will one day be proven remains to be seen. Till then, this newly christened city of Cowboy’s Juncture will bear his name proudly.