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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cowboy boots

I wear cowboy boots to class. So sue me. I am a resident of the Central Valley of California. My dad is a farmer. I voted for John McCain in the last election (the cowboy boot-toting Sarah Palin was on the ticket). I drove a tractor before I drove a car. My favorite author is Louis Lamour. I have ridden a horse. To me cowboy boots are footwear, just like sneakers, sandals or those cork soles I purchased at a flea market (great for the locker room, my swollen big toe!).

Location defines appropriate attire. I learned this at the age of five when I attended my best friend's birthday party in a onesie pajama. Did I say five? Actually I was eight, the onesie was light red (not pink, you insensitive self-esteem destroyer!) and I completed the outfit with a white sleepy cap that had closed eyelashes painted on the front.

That said, I have recovered substantially. With a few notable exceptions, I no longer wear sandals to weddings or butterfly shorts to church.

Cowboy boots are appropriate attire in many college classes. They can be worn to mathematics or advanced science courses without raising an eyebrow. I had a soil science instructor who wore nothing else (on his feet). Boots are even okay in some history and economics classes. You won't be the most popular kid, but you can get by.

Boots are, however, implicitly prohibited in my French classes where the footwear shouts "Bush-supporting-redneck-hick-whose-only-ties-to-the-ivory-tower-are-non-inherited-wealth." To me, boots are emblematic of masculinity and strength. It's what Chick Bowdrie would wear as he narrowly escapes dry gulching on the way to capturing the outlaw rustlers. It's what Batman modified for his flying getup as he rid Gotham City of human filth. But strength -- at least the strenght of the boot -- is frowned on in the enclave of French represented by the 18 females and me in my French class.

French males are to be thin, wafty human beings with the resolve of a Benjamin Kunkel novel. They are to wash down their croissants and pain au chocolat with piping expresso and an air of superior "leger." Venerable, cultured and European. Not strong, manly and booted. The French man cries, wimpers and grovels. He is a good runner and a poor fighter. And everyone knows that boots are made for walking, not running, so the French male avoids that genre of footwear.

The ironic thing is that several of the girls in class regularly wore boots. Boots are okay for them, but interdit for me. Can anyone explain that? The comment section awaits...

When I first entered French class with my boots, several of my classmates stared. They looked at me as if I were attending Red Hat Society meeting at Carrows wearing a blue hat. I was a piranha in a gold fish bowl. Soon their awkward stares turned into stifled smiles and then giggles as they realized that, of course, this was some kind of joke. I was pretending to be a red-blooded American male with two fully functioning cajones (that's Spanish). I was playing the tough-guy, non-emasculated vaquero as a jest, to poke fun at those too unsophisticated to be real French males.

They understood, so they laughed. That made me the popular, jocular character in the room. I earned my thespian chops just by selecting the right wardrobe accutrements. So I kept on wearing the boots. Afterall, they are a heck of a lot more comfortable than those cork sandals.


Anonymous said...

Great article man.. Keep wearing those cowboy boots.. I wore mine when I was in college and alot of other guys did too- it is the most masculine thing a guy can wear..

Take care pardner

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