Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Meaning of Boots

What's with cowboy boots?  Well, to a suburban kid coming from the Front Range of Colorado, probably more than you think.  While growing up, if I saw someone wearing a pair of cowboy boots it meant to that the owner was probably from the country and had horses, cattle or farmed.  It kind of meant that you were a "cowboy".  That carried a heavy connotation for this impressionable youngster.  How many other kids do you know that would go to the county fair and rodeo just to go home and play rodeo with your legos?

Yep, that's me.  Cowboys and their footwear meant something to me.  I'm from out west and didn't even own a pair of boots until my sophmore year of college, when I started taking a great many trips to various friends farms and ranches.  In fact the only reason I bought them was my buddy told me "you'll probably need a pair of boots to come out for branding".  Since then, after meeting my fiancee and working on their family ranch, I've owned several pair and I love 'em.

Since moving to Dallas, I've had to rethink my personal definition of what cowboy boots mean. You could say that it was first challenged on an evening at one of my favorite uptown bars. When asked "what kind of boots are those" I quickly turned to find a cute young girl and replied "Uhh, I think they're Tony Lama's". I hadn't paid too much attention to them before.  My boots are one of my favorite things to wear out and said "this guy is living urban but definitely has some country flowing in his veins".

To my surprise, this young girl responsed saying "Oh, well mine are Luccheses." Now enter the devaluation of my definition for cowboy boots.  This girl had nothing to do with a country lifestyle, she was just a fashionista interested in how much my boots cost (pretty cheap at the resale shop and resoled)!  Sadly, I have had to refine my personal definition for boots.

To me boots are tied to "cowboys" and that has always meant agriculture. Boots were part of their garb, even a tool of their trade.  Boots were a validation of sorts that elevated a person's status in my eyes, it meant they were good laborers.  The fact that farming and ranching was ridiculously "hard work" was ingrained in me by all the urban folks around me.  Apparently they had some connection to someone who was involved in agriculture.  I was even reminded of this fact by my grandfather many times when he would recount his childhood on the farm.

Why does it matter?  In all aspects of my life, I really value authenticity.  For many of the people here in Dallas to wear around expensive boots just because the are Texans is funny to me.  They are taking a tool of the livestock tending trade and urbanizing it: making it less authentic.  Isn't this the same with many other aspects of urban life?  Merely trying to grasp at the highlights and customs of rural life while sadly distorting it to fit a fast paced - couped up lifestyle?

1 comment:

  1. I love boots and have many pairs. I never seem to be able to keep them looking real nice for very long. Weather they are just my plain leather crepe soles or my ostrich skin wood sole, they usually find themselves in a pasture looking at cows!