Momma’s Don’t let Your Daughters Grow up to be Cowdykes

by Dennis Hiatt

Things were dead at the counter when La Donna spied
James through the glass door of Harry's Ritz Cafe.  He was
chatting with Icky Willy the wino, who stank worse than an
unwashed fundamentalist's mind.  La Donna hoped Willy
wouldn't lay his "Twenty-seven, whole, cents?  That's mighty
white of you, man!" guilt trip on James.  James was very
sweet but he was also very big, and black as the ace of
     The Ace Of Clubs, La Donna thought, would make a GREAT
Cowdyke song for K.D. Lang.  La Donna couldn't wait for the
Gypsy Kings' tape to be over, so that she could play K. D.
Lang. La Donna's head and feathered-punk red hair was be-
bopping to an imaginary Cowdyke song, "Mama don't let your
daughters grow up to be cowdykes!", as James hurried through
the door.  He looked very unhappy.  "Fiend!"  La Donna
greeted James with joy.
     James shyly waited until he was at the counter to reply.
     "NEEF!"  La Donna affirmed.
     "Fiend!"  James said happily.
     "Chamomile tea?" La Donna enquired, smiling and pushing a
limp strand of her off-center rooster comb back into place.
     James shook his head.  "I feel I might need a cappuccino
     "Ne-e-ef!"  To cheer James La Donna made her eyes
playfully over-large and asked. "A ba-a-ad day James?"
     He nodded and laid a dollar on the counter.  "I've got
water on the brain."
     "Fiend!" La Donna nodded with sympathy.  James was a
leftover hippie with a Save-The-Whales tee-shirt, old jeans
and sandals. James came in almost ever night, had a cup of
herbal tea and threw the I Ching.  La Donna, finding James'
hippie stuff a little on the weird sister side, had taught
James to communicate with Neef and Fiend.  Those were the
only two words Germutlich, La Donna's pet gerbil, spoke.
Though James tried, he couldn't get into La Donna's art
haircuts, but he rapped gerbil-speak like a Beastie Boy.
     James sat at a table next to two beautiful kids dressed
in black.  The kids had colored art hair. The boy had very,
very short, dark green hair, a good length for Cowdyke hair,
La Donna decided.  The pale girl's go-go boots and  pink
curls reminded La Donna of her own hair, when she was in her
Little Mary Sunshine Phase.
     As the espresso steamed black into the glass cup, La
Donna smiled.  La Donna had sold flowers from a cart in front
of Meier and Franks. She'd worn Catholic girl skirts, white
shirts, paisley ties and shiny, red patent leather shoes,
her red hair had lay in fluffed curls down to the middle of
her back. La Donna frothed the milk and tried to remember the
night she'd split Los Angeles.  She'd helped herself to her
mother's whale-bellied, peppermint-breathed boyfriend's Visa
card and six hundred dollars in cash, grabbed a taxi to the
airport and picked a city three hundred and twenty-seven
dollars and eighteen cents away from LA.  Her mother's obese
boyfriend, drunk as a bar-dog, had pinned her to the carpet
and tried to cure Donna's gayness with his magic wand (a
sliver actually, but a damnable one).  After he'd let her up,
she fled, blood running down her thighs, to the bathroom.  He
yelled that he couldn't believe she was still a virgin at
sixteen.  He had, however, no trouble believing that Donna
would blow his little, blood-covered balls off with her
mother's pistol.  Donna smoked a joint with the cab driver
and tipped him with her mother's pistol.
     A perfect cappuccino!  La Donna be-bopped to James
table. "One cappuccino coming up."   She arranged the drink.
spoon, and napkin, artfully on James table and patted his
shoulder.  James smiled, but it was a very sad smile.  "You
     James nodded. "Musing about a dark road."
     Arching one eyebrow, La Donna asked.  "Roads not taken?"
Could James be gay?, she wondered.
     "Taken I'm afraid." James said and sipped the
     La Donna dropped the eyebrow and smiled like a Catholic
school girl.  "Ya know James, I've been a lot happier since I
came out of the closet."
     James laughed and told her a joke she'd heard about
twelve times. La Donna chortled politely and decided she'd
put on the K. D. Lang tape before the Gypsy Kings were
     "Mamma don't let your daughters grow up to be cowdykes."
La Donna sang to herself, while her feathered roster comb
hair bob-bopped to K. D. Lang's "Walkin'".  La Donna cleaned
the counter and tried to think up words for her Cowdyke song.
James left without drinking hardly any of the cappuccino.  La
Donna yelled. "Bye."  Maybe she shouldn't have hinted that
James was gay. He probably had enough problems being a burned
out hippie.  La Donna watched Icky Willy panhandle James.
This time Willy scored, and La Donna turned around and
cleaned the back counter.
     When La Donna be-bopped out to bus tables, she saw that
a skinny boy in a motorcycle jacket, thin sideburns, and a
rather fat, lame mohawk had joined the boy with green
Cowdyke hair and hot pink Little Mary Sunshine. La Donna
watched the new kid in the reflection of the window, when she
bent over to clean James' table. The little dog was staring
at her buns like he had a bone he wanted to give her. "Boy
Germ," she thought, wiping the clean table.
     La Donna stood and pushed her hair back into place. The
sideburns boy said.  "Hi. What's your name?"
     La Donna smiled a little lipped cat smile. "None of your
     The skinny boy smiled drugged or happy and said.  "Nice
name, but it would be hard to write a song about."
     Hot Pink Hair giggled.  "Barf, you are SUCH a LAME
dwizzle dick."
     La Donna didn't mind too much.  All men seemed to want
her because she was a size five girl with art hair.  But to
be fair, maybe all petite girls with round rumps and nice
boobs, had to put up with Lame Dwizle Dicks from Art Hair
Hell.  La Donna swayed away from the table, her rump moving
to the rhythm of a slow freight train.  Barf followed her to
the counter; the handcuffs and chains on his leather jacket
rattled like beer cans desperate to mate.
     "What can I get for you?"  She asked, her head and hair
be-bopping to K. D. Lang.  Her smile was as professional and
clean as a nun's conscience.
     "Want'a get off, after you get off?"  Barf's head be-
bopping to the music.
     La Donna smiled, not so nicely. "I don't clean toilets,
and I don't do boys."  "Germ," she added to herself.
     "That's cool," Barf fingered a loose chain. "I'm a man."
     La Donna shook her head but kept rhythm to K. D.'s song.
"Germ, you don't have enough body to go with that attitude."
     The boy laughed. "Hey I put out a dude's eye last week!"
     La Donna's head stopped moving. "I'll try not to look at
you while you're leaving. Now get out."
     Laughing, Barf waved goodbye to the kids at the table
and rattled out the door.
     La Donna sighed.  Why did each generation think that it
discovered art hair?
     Busty, blonde-by-bleach Amber came out of the back
kitchen with a tray of sparkling cups.  "Busy?"
     "Nah."  La Donna watched Icky Willy spare change the
dwizzle dick. "Dead as a mouse in a trap in Milwaukee."
     Amber nodded. "It's ten to nine, let's start closing
     "Okay. I'll mop." La Donna said and turned up the
lights.  Amber looked surprised, but said nothing.
     As La Donna swished the mop around she tried to think
more words to "Mama don't let your daughters grow up to be
cowdykes."  She could see very clearly in her mind many size
five girls with radically short hair and Cowdyke outfits from
places like L. L. Bean. They were riding big horses and
singing happy cowdyke songs as they herded little cows that
were actually sweet baby calves, across a butch, cigarette-ad
     La Donna unlocked the door and let the art hair kids
out.  Amber's boy friend, Harry the owner, a big guy with
longish hair, and in his early forties was getting out of his
'83 Coupe DeVille convertible. La Donna held the door for
Harry.  "Hi La Donna."
     "Hi Harry."  La Donna smiled nicely, but not too nicely,
and went back to mopping.  She wanted to ride in the
landscape in her mind, not talk to Harry.
     "I saw your better half down town this afternoon."
     "Oh?"  La Donna's mop swished to still.  Her eyes
examined its wet, marsh-grey strings.  "Was Simone by
     "No."  Harry said and lit a clove cigarette with a
lame flourish.
     Very carefully La Donna looked up.  "Was Simone with
that....Kentucky coal mine?"
     Harry, playing the asshole, blew smoke over La Donna's
head, into her art hair.  "Kentucky coal mine?"
     La Donna nodded slowly, bobbing her art hair. The worst
part about being a five-foot size five was that no one took
you seriously when you were furious.  People treated you like
you were as cute and as impotent as a child when you were
ready to cut a throat.  La Donna gifted Harry with a mystery
smile and said as sweet as magnolia honey, with an undertone
that suggested she'd love to drip battery acid into someone's
clamped-open blue eyes.  "Filled with kitty litter."
     "Filled with Kitty litter?"  Harry's smiled frosted like
breath against a cool mirror.
     La Donna's art hair bobbed and swayed ever so gently.
"Nineteen cats, one pound of kitty litter...feed them prunes
for two months, and you got Kentucky Coal Mine's love perfume
ready to be bottled."  The clove cigarette between Harry's
lips was not at its usual jaunty angle.  La Donna smiled like
a size five angel and added. "She's got so much cellulose
that her thighs look like garbage bags filled with cottage
cheese, and her rear looks like a tree stump."
     Harry kind of coughed.  "God, La Donna, that's an awful
way to talk about someone's mother."
    La Donna WAS embarrassed and taken aback, but she'd be
soaked with gasoline and run a marathon through Hell before
she'd admit she was jealous to the point of paranoia of
Simeone's ex-lover, Madeline.  La Donna chortled
mysteriously.  "Harry, don't let your daughters grow up to be
     Harry nodded. "You can take that to the bank, La Donna."
     La Donna stared kill stares at Harry's back as he walked
away, but she was back to her mopping before Harry had helped
himself to a cup of the leftover coffee and copped a feel off
Amber's pillow breasts.  She tried to get her mind back on
the desert with the beautiful Cowdykes, but Harry's clove
cigarette smoke and Amber's antique Psychedelic Furs tape,
tunneled La Donna's mind to a Rockabilly Hell, where no
Cowdykes could herd.
     "Clove-smelling boss germs", La Donna thought, and tuned
in on an old favorite memory.  She was Cinderella in red
patent leather shoes and a electric green G-string. Simone
was a Gothic Rocker coming to take Cinderella out of the
clutches of poverty and topless dancing.  Madeline would play
herself: a cunt.
     La Donna squeezed the mop handle in both hands and
narrowed her big eyes to slits. First came the sick part.
     Donna (not LA Donna yet) had lost her flower job because
the boss's son (a headbanger druggie) needed a job to get
paroled.  No one needed a sixteen year old who sold flowers
and had dropped out of high school.  For two weeks, Donna ate
at The Green House and then stood out on Broadway to beg
thirty-five cents to buy a paper to look for a job. She'd
wore out her red patient leather shoes walking from stores to
restaurants to fast food places and back to her cold
apartment, which she could barely afford even before she lost
her job. Every night she washed her nice Catholic girl skirts
(and now, because she had no soap, not-so-nice white shirts)
by hand.  She lay her ties between the mattresses so they'd
looked pressed in the morning. (In the morning she pretended
that one of the ties was magic and would get her a job, but
she didn't know which tie and the tie changed every day.) She
would be waiting at the doors of the Green House when it
opened for breakfast.  She would then stand at the the corner
of SW Broadway and Alder, make her eyes big, and beg nice.
Sometimes she begged enough for coffee as well as a paper.
Sometimes men asked her to suck their thing.  By noon or one
PM, Donna's pits would smell so bad from stress and fear
that people told her to take the job application home or left
her alone in the room to fill it out.
     When Donna came home that last night and found a
seventy-two hour eviction notice nailed to her door, she did
what she thought she could never do. She went to a topless
bar that was always advertising for dancers. Donna made her
eyes big and, in her best Little Mary Sunshine voice, asked
to see the owner.
     The owner, Stillman, was a jolly, fat man with a halo of
red hair around a gleaming Neanderthal dome.  He escorted her
to his office in the back, locked the door and flopped his
jello butt down in an overstuffed chair that looked like it
would burst just holding him. He smiled and told Donna, who
stood under a dangling hundred-watt bulb in front of him,
that she could make maybe a hundred dollars a night in tips.
Donna smiled nicely even thought it hurt, and said she'd like
that very, very much because she was being kicked out of her
home and that....
     The fat man cut her off. He was no longer jolly. He
asked her if she was eighteen. She shivered when she said she
was. He said she was a liar.  Stillman said that she wasn't a
day over sixteen and maybe she was only fifteen.  Donna's
eyes misted over so she couldn't see the terrible man very
well and she did not speak. He said show me your tits. Not
looking at him, she undressed to the waist. He asked if she
wanted to start tonight. She nodded. He said, "Then get down
on your knees."  Donna knelt, soiling her Catholic Girl
stocking on the grime and cigarette butts that owned the
floor, until she choked on those raw juices that street
children must often sup on.
     By the beginning of her second week Donna was such a
favorite with the customers that she didn't need to spend ten
minutes in the office before she went on stage. By the end of
the second week, Donna (she was dancing under the name Rita)
had discovered little white pills that kept her green eyes
open big.  The first day of the third week, Donna walked to
the bar buzzing slow like a big-eyed, fluff haired bee
starved for pollen.  She had a memory stuck in her mind like
a ocean liner being ground between two icebergs.  She was
nine and lived in Quartz Hill.  For some reason her father
had taken her with him to LA.  They'd stopped at a crosswalk
and Donna had glimpsed a jewelry store. In the store's window
were tiaras, great, shimmering diamond necklaces and an
enough rings and baubles to make a Snow Queen weep for want.
In shock, Donna sucked a sharp breath and said.  "Oh, Daddy!
Do all your dreams come true in the big city?"  When she was
fifteen and bopping LA streets with baby dykes, she found the
store again and realized that it catered to drag queens.
     Donna felt like crying as she breezed into the topless
(and bottomless and if you play with IT baby and let me smell
your finger, I'll tip you five) bar.  She tossed a nod to
Bramble, an over-the-hill afternoon dancer, and hurried back
to the bathroom size dressing room.  Donna's speed eyes took
a second to adjust to the dangling sixty-watt bulb.  There
were two women sitting in the only chairs. One, a Town and
Country princess was in an advanced state of pregnancy.
The other was a Gothic Rocker with sweat or water from the
spray bottle still dripping down her high, broad forehead.
Sitting in half-shadows, the dark rocker wore a sleeveless
black shirt, worn-out jeans, and golden sandals.  The black-
maned punk was as exotic as a Moslem holy city and shimmering
with anger.  The thin lipped, pregnant debutante stared as
calm as a slumming Madonna at the rocker in the half shadows
and then turned her fertile eyes to Donna.  The Gothic Punk
leaned into the light and Donna drank in her long slim neck,
lush-stung red lips, high, hollow cheek bones and cat grey
eyes ("Pride of the Cherokee Nation,...babies.").  For what
seemed like forever, but was probably only a minute or two,
the two women stared at Donna without speaking.  The Madonna
smiling as soft as a kitten's tummy, slowly caressed her bare
forearm, in a delicately private way that told speed-eyed
Donna, that the woman knew, past all knowing, that she was
top drawer and Speedhead Donna was not much more than a damp
meadow that strangers would walk across but never live.  The
shadowy room, filled with stale smoke, fresh woman sweat and
Opium perfume, seemed to get hotter with each amorously
focused breath Donna swallowed.  Either woman held a future
in her arms, that if those arms held Donna, they would kill
every memory of betrayal, shame and fear, that had come to
fill Donna's waking hours like heavy rat-chewed furniture.
     The dancer ran her long fingers through her black mane,
flashing shaved, white armpits and invited. "What's your
name,...babies?"  The raw way she kissed `babies' to Donna
made it sound as wrong as fondling a cop's gun while it was
still on his hip and as dirty-sexy as an ugly dyke gym
instructor soaping all the girls down in her seventh grade
P.E. class.
     "LA Donna."  Donna chirped as tough and bitchy as she
could manage and not choke on the saliva in her mouth.
     "La Donna?",  drawled Madeline.  "Why you're just a
puppy that hasn't opened it eyes yet."
     La Donna (now La Donna forever) shrugged, snapped on the
dresser's makeup lamp, turned her back to the women and
stepped out of her dress. "What's your names?"
     The dancer, her long fingers still running caresses
through her long hair, said.  "I'm the Witch of November,
     The Madonna said nothing. La Donna lay her bra and
French-cut briefs on the dresser. Then she turned, and
pitching her nipples hard for the fucked, asshole men
outside, smiled.  November smiled back.  "All that, babies
and a fire-muff too." The Madonna slapped November leaving a
white hand print on her face.  Still, La Donna and November
smiled at each other.  "My real name's Simone. What's your
real name, babies?"
     La Donna kept playing with her nipples. "La Donna."
The hand print on Simeone's face turned red. La Donna pulled
up her G-string and pulled her dress down over her head.
"Gotta work." La Donna shrugged and stepped through the black
curtain and stood in its shadows to watch Bramble finish her
number.  Simone emerged beside La Donna, watched Bramble for
a second, and said.  "Bozo The Beef-Animal."
     "Bramble's nice and you're a bitch." La Donna whispered.
     "She's an old whore getting six bucks an hour to
exercise."  Simone slipped her hand into La Donna's hand.
"Why am I a bitch?"
     La Donna squeezed Simeone's long fingers. "Because
you're with her, not me."
     "Babies?" Simone whispered. La Donna released her hand
and stepped out onto the stage. The men stomped their feet
and applauded...La Donna heard clapping and looked up. Harry said. "That
spot's clean as hell, kid."
     Amber adjusted her fur. "We're leaving.  Want to lock
     "Sure." La Donna chirped sadly. She hated not being able
to finish her daydream memory. La Donna waited until they 'd
driven off before she put the mop a way and turned out all
the lights. She put on her coat and sat in a corner, waiting
for Icky Willy to move across the street.  She sang slowly,
softly. "Mamma don't let your daughters grow up to be
     Simone moved in with La Donna the following week. She
brought with her about a thousand pounds of clothes and a
big-screen TV that showed everything in orange. "What about
Madeline?",  little La Donna had asked when she caught her
     "S&M are having a baby, babies," Simone had laughed, but
it was no joke. Simone and Madeline had decided to raise a
child.  The baby born a week later was a boy.  They'd named
him Donny.  He was now four and tow-headed.
     La Donna watched Icky Willy stumble across the street.
She went in the back room, called a cab and took a baggy of
nice fresh lettuce out of the walk-in.
     The cabby wasn't the one who normally drove La Donna
home, so she wasn't too nice to him, lest he get cabby-germ
ideas.  "Fifteen twenty-seven South West Parkside Lane,
     The cabby smiled and fished for a tip. "That's a pretty
high-rent homestead for a young lady."  La Donna nodded, her
art hair bobbing, but did not speak. She was terribly sad and
hoped Simone would be gone before she got home.
     La Donna tipped the cabby a dollar and saved out a
dollar for the doorman.  The doorman palmed the bill and
smiled. "How's things in the penthouse, Ms La Donna?"
     "Fine."  La Donna smiled back, but didn't look at the
doorman.  Inside her apartment, La Donna hung her coat on the
hall tree and went straight to the master bedroom. Simone was
sitting at the make-up table in her black lace underwear,
putting on her Temptation Eyes.  Germutlich saw La Donna and
squealed, "NEEF, neef, FIEND!" She knelt at the gerbil's cage
and poked the lettuce to Germutlich.   As the gerbil ate, La
Donna took off her shoes and dress. When Germutlich had
finished his feast, La Donna cradled the warm furry love next
to her breast and said with forced cheer to Simone,  "I
thought of a song today!"
     Simone smiled a tired smile from the mirror and combed
the waves of her long, black mane back over her broad, thin
shoulders.  "Yeah, babies?"
     La Donna nodded, her art hair bobbing,  "Mamma don't let
your daughters grow up to be cowdykes."
     Simone shook her head.  "It should be babies instead of
daughters. Little boys should be able to be cowdykes too."
     La Donna sat cross-legged on the carpet. Germutlich
nuzzled near her heart.  In her mind, La Donna saw a roundup
of little boys (tow-headed four year olds) with stick horses
and big tin stars pinned on crisp plaid shirts, sitting
around a TV watching Hop-A-Long Helen.  This made her very
     "No." La Donna said over brightly as Simone put on the
black slit-up-the-side Suzy Wong dress.  "We don't need more
     Simone stared at herself in the mirror, as if she were
examining the garden of Eden after it had fallen into ruin,
instead of a tall cool woman in a black dress.  "No." Simone
shook her head slowly.  "Daughters wouldn't be politically
     "IS being a whore politically correct?" La Donna
     Simone shrugged and turn to La Donna.  "Madeline and
Donny need money too, babies."
     La Donna wouldn't look at Simone. "Madeline could
struggle by with her furs and jewels somehow."
     Simone bent over, brushed La Donna's wilted hair out of
her eyes and kissed her forehead. "I love you, Babies."
     "Me too you, poop cat." La Donna said, but couldn't look
at Simone or she's start crying.
     When Simone was gone, La Donna took off her bra, and
cuddling Germutlich to her heart, sang sweet and low:
"Germutlich don't let your daughters grow up to be
     As she sang, La Donna wept.