You Can Leave Your Hat On


When they were little they had what they called shoe-boots. They pulled plastic bread bags over their shoe-clad feet and slid them into rubber boots lined with thick felt. Then they zipped the shoe-boots up – there was a central zipper that ran from the toes up to the top of the ankle-high boot. They pulled their snowpants down over the shoe-boots.

Were the shoe-boots warm? Not for her, cold-footed cold person that she is. She liked the bright Wonder Bread circles on the bread bags, though.

Then came what they called moon boots. Giant stomper things that weighed nothing. Were they warm? For everyone but her, they were.

She had a pair of Frye boots in her twenties. She wore them with short dresses, a red one that laced up the back and a black and white polka dot one in particular.

Were the Fryes comfortable? No. They hurt like hell, but she wore them anyway. Up and down the cobblestone streets of the city in which she lived, she tromped in the Frye boots.

One day she was feeling particularly fine, wearing her Frye boots and her black and white polka dot dress, striding through the public garden in the sunshine, whistling no doubt. Then came the bird poop, glooping its way through her hair, down her neck, onto her shoulder. Why, bird? Why me, why now?

Then came a long stretch of post-Frye bootless years, years in which her only boots were the Sorels that she dragged on every endless winter to go slogging out into the snow and ice and bitter wind. Stunningly heavy, those boots. Warm? Of course not.

Now she has a pair of cowboy boots, real ones. Is she a cowgirl? No, but in another life she might be. She puts the cowboy boots on with jeans. She puts them on with dresses. She likes the smell of the tooled leather. She likes the cool warmth of that leather against her bare legs.

Sometimes, in movies, she takes her cowboy boots off in the dark and perches them on the empty seat beside her so that they can watch too.

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