Saturday, February 07, 2009

Butch boots

When C and I first met, I didn't own any work boots, and that is just about all he owned.

While touring Baltimore, we found ourselves looking at footwear and I announced that I would like a pair of boots like his "butch boots".

He helped me pick out just the right pair, and I entirely bowed to his judgement. He showed me how to wrap the long laces around the ankle parts in a careless way. Of course, these boots demanded ancillary purchases of plaid flannel and button fly Levis.

I loved my butch boots. I embraced their life, and every time I put them on my feet, I walked like a lumberjack. The lumberjack that had always lumbered about inside me.

After a few months, C caught me polishing them with saddle soap and made strong protestation. Didn't I know that they were supposed to be scuffed and beat up? How could I possibly think of ruining them with polish. I looked at the stained cloth in my hand and suddenly realized that I was scrubbing the soul off them. Like black music re-recorded by white singers in the 1950s to make it palatable for the mainstream. I never violated them again.

Sometimes I'd look at them in their place by the back door. They were like your family dogs, their tongues out and tails thumping when they see you coming and they know it's time to go out.

Other times, I'd gaze at them and feel what Martin Heidegger felt when he wrote that rhapsodic riff on Van Gogh's painting of old boots. I'd wonder if Heidegger was more of a fetishist than an existential phenomenologist.

As we prepared the house for sale and made decisions about what to keep and what to pitch, I'd pick up those boots and then put them down, moving on to something else, unable to part with them. Finally, I asked C to do the deed, and I didn't watch as he took them out to the garage and threw them into the bin, but I heard the heavy clunky butch sound they made as they tumbled into the trash. I could not look into that bin until after the town truck, making its weekly rounds, had taken them away.

I don't need them anymore. I am butch.


evilganome said...

It reminds me of a pair of Justin Mule hide western boots I had for many years.

They went from a pristine blonde to stained, scuffed and eventually much resoled veterans. It was a sad day when the cobbler told me that their day was done. I'm currently working my way through a pair of Justin cowhide boots that have seen better days but will be better than new as soon as I have them half soled.

Tate said...

You are many things. It is always interesting to look back and realize how the people in your life subtly, yet profoundly change your life. You and C are very fortunate.

Patrick said...

You are butch. Even while wearing your schmata. Was there just no room for your boots with this house gone?

Anonymous said...

I had a pair of shoes like that. Worn, scuffed and beaten. I'd had them resoled twice at a time in my life when a pair of shoes was an extravagance. My life has moved on since then and it was time to let go of things like a pair of shoes I hadn't worn in three years. Yet I couldn't just htrow them away, so I dropped them on top of a pile of shirts and pants and books and took them to the local AIDS charity thrift store. Two weeks later I popped into buy cheap dishes for a photo shoot and saw them sitting there, priced at $5, polished and waiting for the next man to come along who might find a new pair of shoes an extravagance.