The first time I had a bowl cut, with John Taylor of Duran Duran, circa 1993 I've been thinking about chopping off my hair for...Read More
These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: Black Boots
When clearly… I. Am. Not.
I used to have perfect shoes from Paris…
In 1984, when I was 15, I was a member of the American Music Abroad Choir. We wore navy blue skirts, white blouses, red blazers, and conservatively-heeled blue pumps while we sang traditional American music (“Oh, Susannah, oh don’t you cry for me…”) to adoring European audiences on a 3-week summer tour of seven European countries. My use of “adoring” is not sarcastic; the audiences loved our wholesome, dorky goodness.
It was my first time on my own, without my parents, and I was intoxicated by the freedom. I was pretty square, so I didn’t do anything bad… but it was delicious to be independent. I hung out with new friends, stayed out late dancing in nightclubs with cute Austrian boys, and I bought the greatest boots on the planet in Paris.
They were black, of course. The foot was vaguely cowboy boot-ish: slightly pointed toes, some curlicues cut into the leather, 2-inch stacked heels. The shaft hit just above the ankle: too tall to be true ankle boots, but not quite mid-calf. They were, in fact, the world’s most perfect height for my short legs. And here’s the part that makes them special, one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable: the shaft was made of skinny strips of leather — maybe a 1/4-inch wide — woven like a basket… pliable enough to roll so there was a cuff at the top, sturdy enough to stand up. These were NOT ’80s slouch boots; they were clean, neat, and tough-looking.
I loved them to distraction. (And now I must pause to sigh and think about the perfect boots in private.)
OK. I’m back.
I distinctly remember wearing them with black skinny stretch pants, an oversized red Coca-Cola sweatshirt (is anyone else old enough to remember when Coke had a short-lived fashion line?), and black Wayfarer sunglasses. Somewhere there’s a photo of that particular outfit, on me, in Paris. It is the very picture of happiness and contentment.
Loving my boots as I did, I wore them all the time. When I went to college in 1986, the heels and soles were worn down and needed replacing. My dad, who I love even more than I did the boots, has always been a stickler for good shoes. “You can tell a lot about a person by their shoes,” he said. “Shoes are a sign of self-respect.”
When he offered to have them repaired for me, with a promise to return them to me when I came home for Thanksgiving, I accepted. I handed off the boots, kissing them and my dad goodbye.
When I made my first trek home to Pennsylvania from Syracuse University, I asked my dad about the boots. And he said, “Oh. The shoe repair man couldn’t replace the soles. They were so beat up, I just got rid of them.”
I still dream about finding a shoemaker who could make me a pair of replacement boots, reconstructed from my memory.