I’m a city girl, as in The City, The Big Apple, New York City. He’s a western, small-town-kind-of-guy. I’m a Gucci-kind-of-girl. He’s always been a cowboy-boot-wearing-guy. And I don’t mean the fancy, handcrafted, custom-made, snake skin, gold-and-silver encrusted Tony Lama kind of cowboy boots. I mean unadorned work boots something like wesco boots or “Shit-kickers,” as my father so eloquently – and accurately – described them.
Yet, East Coast high heels fell in love with Western cowboy boots and we became engaged. Set to marry in my second hometown, Las Vegas, a locale more like NYC than the Wild West, we met with the rabbi at my brother’s home, where the ceremony would be held.
“Rabbi, please tell Jon he cannot wear cowboy boots with a tuxedo,” I pleaded.
“We can’t?” said my brother, mid-stride, as he passed in the hall.
“We can’t?” echoed the rabbi.
And so it was ordained. The three wore cowboy boots at the wedding. Oh, well. I admit, the groom did a helluva fine job smashing the wine goblet, commemorating the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago.
Pin-Stripes and Tweets
Now, please do not get me wrong. Handsome Hubby (HH) is not a country bumpkin. He is an internationally-recognized leader in the field of energy efficiency and renewables and has twice held presidential appointments. He is, as my grandmother would have said, a “big deal.”
Yet, through it all, pin-stripe suits, silk ties, toney briefcases and all, he has worn cowboy boots. They’ve even been mentioned in newspaper articles and been the subject of a tweet!
HH’s got boots in brown and black, but he mostly wore the brown ones. And by “ones” I mean the same one pair. He had them longer than we’ve been married (31 years). He’s had them re-soled countless times and polished hundreds of times in airports on at least three continents.
These Boots Are No Longer Made for Walking
But then, six months ago, tragedy struck …
The leather on the left boot, worn out at long last, split open across the front. HH cried out in such sharp pain that I thought he had hurt himself. I ran into the bedroom and he held up the boot for me to behold. Even I was sad.
HH had to go to work and so, he reluctantly put on another pair of boots. I promised to take the maimed brown boot to the repair shop that very morning, but we both knew the outcome. There would be no salvation for that old shit-kicker lefty.
At the repair show, the man behind the counter just looked at me and said in a somber tone, “Sorry, lady. I’m a repairman. Not a miracle worker.”
I thought of getting a quote for bronzing the browns, but figured it would cost a fortune, weigh a ton and in the end, I’d be stuck dusting them.
Bye, Bye Besties
“Do you want me to toss it for you, lady?”
I almost said yes, but thought that HH would likely want to conduct some sort of private memorial ceremony for his bestie boots. So, I lugged the one back home, reunited it with its mate, and put them discretely in the corner of the garage, delicately covering them up in a makeshift shroud (you know, an old, stained towel).
Sure enough, quicker than you can say “Hi, honey, how was your day?” HH asked for a sit-rep on the boot’s condition. What could I say? I put my hand on his shoulder and kissed him gently on the cheek. It felt like a scene from a TV show. You know, the moment when the ER doc tells the family that their loved one has just died.
HH reclaimed his beloved boot buddies from the garage, lovingly (and to my mind, excessively) caressed them in farewell and then handed them to me.
“Please throw them out. I can’t do it,” he whispered.
He started wearing another pair of brown boots that had resided in the closet for so many years that I had regularly included them in my weekly dusting routine.
For days, HH moped around with a pained expression on his face. I thought he was in mourning. Then I noticed he was limping. HH was in pain alright, but it was physical, not mental. The new boots hurt.
I returned to the repair shop to see Bob – we were now on a first name basis. Bob stretched the boots. HH proclaimed they were better. Better, but not the same.
In With the New
The next thing I knew HH had torn out an ad from the newspaper for Samuel Hubbard shoes, which the company touts as “Remarkably light. Ridiculously comfortable. Crafted from the finest leathers and materials from all over the world for you to move, walk, work, live and play.” That may be so, but I’d describe them as fancy-looking sneaker-y shoes for older guys with discretionary income.
HH bought a pair and now he wears them everywhere. We live in Northern California where casual style rules supreme, so he’s OK for now. I just worry that these shoes doom him from ever securing a presidential appointment again. They look more appropriate for the country club and retirement than Capitol Hill.
But Still …
I’m glad HH is comfortable, but I confess. I’m a bit sad. This feels like a rite of passage and not a welcome one at that. My youthful cowboy is gone, at least from a sartorial standpoint.
Oh, well, he’s got bunions. What the heck. I can’t eat raw onions anymore. Maybe that’s what happens when middle-aged East meets West. Love and understanding. Bunions meet onions.