There is a pair of cowboy boots sitting in my closet, taking up space. I should have thrown them out by now, but for some reason I have them sitting there, hoping some good fairy who is a frustrated cobbler will take mercy and make them as good as new. Well, at least wearable.
I'm partial to cowboy boots and have worn them ever since I bought my first pair of inexpensive Acmes when I was about fourteen. Even though cowboys were supposed to ride and not walk, when you didn't have a horse you had no choice and I had them resoled and reheeled several times before I ever owned a horse.
To me cowboy boots are comfortable and for the last twenty-five years I haven't owned lace up shoes or boots except for the shoe pacs I'm forced to wear at times when the snow is deep.
Around thirty years ago I was living on the coast and working for a large, rather conservative company whose dress code was unwritten yet etched in stone. Its people wore rather plain suits and polished dress shoes--with laces. My boss nearly didn't recover when I wore a Stetson to some Saturday doings where we could be somewhat casual. I don't know what would have happened if I had worn cowboy boots to work, but I'm afraid it would have shaken the company to its very foundations.
We were raising a family then, and there wasn't extra money to indulge my whims, but it was getting on close to Christmas and on my wish list was a pair of cowboy boots. It wasn't a practical thing, but if there is one time of year to be impractical, Christmas is it.
So, one evening after work we loaded the family in the car and went shopping for boots. There was a Western wear store just a few miles away and they had a small selection of boots. I had no idea what boots cost. My first pair was purchased years before, for under $15. Now, Acmes were better than double that. I did try some on and though they looked nice, they just didn't feel right.
I had decided we'd have to look elsewhere or give up on the dream when the owner suggested I try on a pair of Justins. Justins were the top of the line at that time and way out of my class; kind of like going from a cheap used Ford to a brand new Cadillac. I was tempted. Finally, I thought I'd try them on so I could say that once in my life I'd walked across the floor wearing Justin boots. That was a real mistake.
They fit and felt just like they'd been made for me. They were brown ostrich hide and beautiful to see, had the smell of new boots and felt so good. Someone had bought that particular pair and taken them home but for some reason returned them the next day. The only sign of wear was a slight mark on the sole, and the owner offered them to us for one-third off. That was still more than I could afford, but I was sorely tempted. I guess I didn't have much willpower because I walked out of there with the boots on my feet and the boot box under my arm to be gift-wrapped and placed under the tree.
I didn't wear those boots to work, but each evening when I got home and changed out of my suit and into Levis and Western shirt, those boots were there to caress my feet.
When I moved to Idaho, I bought other boots for work and kept the Justins for good. One time I had to attend some function and had to wear my old black suit. The brown Justins just didn't match at all so I ended up doing a quick dye job on the boots. They seemed to understand and didn't hold it against me.
Over the years I've had them resoled and new heels put on several times. The toes had gotten scuffed years ago but they still looked and felt good. Then, a couple of years ago I found the upper had separated from the sole in one place. Carefully and with much concern I took them to a shoemaker and anxiously awaited his verdict. I heaved a sign of relief when he said he could sew on a patch and they'd be good as new.
A couple of weeks ago I was wearing them and had my feet up on a footstool and someone told me I had a hole in the sole. Sure enough, I did. It was about time to have them down for their annual checkup. A couple of days later I was wearing them and suddenly felt something funny. I looked down and found the whole front of the boot had come loose and scooped up a big rock.
Someone suggested I wrap the toe with duck tape and get a bit more use from them, but that's sacreligious. I took them off but I can't bear to throw them in the garbage.
Maybe I could set them on the bookcase as a conversation piece; liven them up a bit with a few dried flowers in the tops. Just think how that would sound at a sanity hearing.
"Well Judge, he uses a wore out pair of cowboy boots for a vase."
I guess one of these days I'll have to bite the bullet and haul them off to the county landfill. I could really be nostalgic and dig a hole and give them a decent burial in the back yard, saying "well done, thou good and faithful servants." But, there are so many rocks at my place that I wore out a pick and shovel planting tulip bulbs. I may be sentimental, but there's no sense also being stupid.