"Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.''
''Speak your mind, but ride a fast horse.''
''Generally, you ain't learnin' nothin' when your mouth's a-jawin'.''
Ah, cowboy wisdom - direct, simple and packing the power of a bellowing bull that's punctured a wasps nest:
''Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.''
''Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.''
''There's two theories to arguing with a woman. Neither one works.''
Why isn't more cowboy wisdom served up, especially now? It's commencement season, the time of year that puffed-up personages and politicians are permitted to roam unfettered around far too many campuses across the country.
Yep, there are good 'uns in the mix. They're the ones who tell us, ''If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there with ya,'' and ''Don't worry about bitin' off more'n you can chew; your mouth is probably a whole lot bigger'n you think.''
But a fair share of the pack yak in large words they calculate will send graduates careening off to fame and fortune. Mainly, the listeners are lulled to sleep.
I have no recollection of who took the podiums when I escaped high school and college. I do remember the TV cowboys of my boyhood.
Gene Autrey taught us principles such as ''The cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.''
Roy Rogers said, ''Protect the weak and help them.''
The Lone Ranger's creed included, ''God put the firewood there, but every man must gather and light it himself.''
In case I'm ever asked to speechify at commencement, I've rounded up tidbits of cowboy wisdom. Here are pieces I've corralled from various ranches of thought:
''Don't corner somethin' meaner than you.''
''You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar... if you're in to catchin' flies.''
''If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.''
''Always take a good look at what you're 'bout to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was.''
''Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back.''
''Nature gave us all something to fall back on, and sooner or later, we all land flat on it.''
''Life ain't about how fast you run, or how high you climb. It's about how good you bounce.''
''You can't tell how good a man or a watermelon is till they get thumped.''
''Don't wrestle with pigs. You'll get all muddy, and the pigs'll love it.''
''When you're throwin' your weight around, be ready to have it thrown around by somebody else.''
''When you give a personal lesson in meanness to a critter or to a person, don't be surprised if they learn their lesson.''
''Keep skunks and gossipers at a distance.''
''It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.''
''The best sermons are lived, not preached.''
''Words that soak into your ears are whispered, not yelled.''
''Most of the stuff people worry about never happens.''
''Never miss a good chance to shut up.''
---- Yammer at Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.