These Boots That Do The Talkin'


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1997. All rights reserved.

I found myself leaning back in my chair today, feet propped up on the desk, and staring absently out the window. My sentences had turned short and brittle. I was feeling taller, tougher, angrier. I wanted to get out of town. And I felt like spittin'.

Then I realized it was my boots. Cowboy boots, that is.

I wear several types of shoes. They lie in a jumble beneath a coat tree in the kitchen. Each to its own place and season, this footwear is more than just leather and canvas. Powers of persuasion are sewn up in these soles.

Take the sneakers, for instance. Snug. Comfortable. Contoured for play and relaxation. Folks who wear sneakers often smile for no reason and wish strangers good day. It's hard to get mad at someone if you're wearing these shoes. No wars were ever started in sneakers.

Street shoes are another matter. Hard, weatherproof exterior with a glossy shine. Soft and cozy inside. Perfect for doing business or playing poker. Wearing these shoes, no one will read your hands or your feet.




Cowboy Boots


In winter I wear huge, heavy rubber-soled Sorels with wooly lining. They make me feel broad as a barn and twice as heavy. Walking in them, I fancy myself like Robert Peary making tracks through an arctic blizzard, even when the snow's just an inch deep and the sun's a-shining.

There are also sandals for flippant lounging, "Wellies" for mucking about, Reebok Pumps for dunking, and waffle stompers for those cross-country
treks to the corner market.


But no other shoe fits or feels quite like a cowboy boot. And nowhere else in the world is there anything like it: High heels. Pointed toes. Mid-calf shafts.

In the American West the cowboy boot was designed for working horsemen on the open range. Those shafts protect the ankles from chafing and high heels can mean life or death when breaking horses or roping steers. A pointed toe finds its way into a stirrup fast and riding heels offer a firm grip.

Some wags claim a horse dealer invented the cowboy boot to keep cowboys from doing much walking. I think it's just as likely some rancher did it to turn ornery boys into self-respecting men, cause there's something about these boots that puts a swagger in your walk and manhood in your spine.

Wearing cowboy boots can make a man feel like kicking something, but he doesn't, and it's the self-restraint that makes him a cowboy.

Ordinarily, men are not toughened by wearing high heels. But cowboy boots make a man stand taller, whether on foot or in the saddle. And when you stand tall, you start thinking tall and acting tall and speaking in short sentences.

So pardon my grammar... and forgive my long pauses... Can't help it, really... That's just my boots talkin.'


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