Thursday, May 11, 2006

Our Culture of The Boot

The magazine section of Sunday's Seattle Times/PI devoted most of itself to how wonderful Seattle is, yet again! As I have stated before on this blog, Seattleites love talking about themselves. Collective narcissism is definitely part of our culture. I was planning to write about the Sunday article because it fits with one of the many themes of my blog but----been there; done that. But, I could not resist the photo and at least one quote which will lead me to my blog topic of the day.

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The piece is entitled "Beautiful, Smart, and a Little Wild" (yea, that's us) and actually consists of excerpts from the book, "Seattle, Coming of Age" by Joel W. Rogers. Undoubtedly, I want the book because I am as narcissistic as any Seattleite.

And the quote:

"Our gray-green muted world seems reflected in our politeness and our political correctness, a badge of living here. We stand up with a breathtaking pride for our motley architecture and flailing sports teams, our insular provincialism and our legendary rain. But it is the way we live, our NPR-listening, black Lab-loving, electric guitar-inventing, REI-shopping, book-reading, sea-kayaking life in Seattle that signals to others an enviable if damp happiness."

Alright, let us get specific. Sincerely, a big topic of my family's conversations is the perfect "boot" for hiking. Just yesterday I was talking to my son on the phone; he is still in France and he seems to be going through the shoes with all of his exploring of Poland and Germany and England and such. He wishes he had his beloved hiking boots but they were just too cumbersome to take. He actually stated that he "loved" his boots. I completely understand because I, too, love my boots. And when I clunked the boots on the patio table to take this photo this morning, Apolo became very excited and wiggly. He loves the boots, too, because the smell means wonderful hiking fun to him.

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Lukie's boot and my boot

The perfect boot is completely dependent on how it feels after a significant hike; there is nothing worse than blisters and sore feet after only two miles and every single hiker I know has had this experience. The perfect boot may or may not be expensive. Hiking experience just tells you when you try a pair on and walk around the store whether any little rub will turn into a blister down the road. My boots were cheap but they felt great from the beginning and never have I had a problem. Unfortunately, one of these days, my beloveds will need to be replaced. Lucas's boots were pricey but Grandma helped as part of a birthday gift and believe me, this was a big deal. My son was on the phone with me salivating over these boots at a sporting goods store in Montana. They turned out to be great boots. Such a purchase to us is as important as an automobile.

In the Seattle Times today was an article about a backpacking equipment company that caters to women. Evidently, they have developed the perfect hiking boot and this morning, I was drooling over this picture. My daughter lusts after all of the fancy shoes at Nordstroms but me---??? Ah, look at this-----wow, look at this lovely item:

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"The Blue Ridge GTX boot, in Nubuck leather, is tailored to women's feet and how women walk, down to details such as footfall pressure."

Which brings me to my husband. Oh, my husband, what can I say? He is brilliant and appeared on the ABC Evening News--the national news--on Friday discussing parental concern over toxic exposures; he has just come out with a new book; and he is about to go to Washington DC to advise uppity decider folks about a dangerous carcinogen. But his major concern at the moment is that he has LOST HIS HIKING BOOTS. My husband has all of the attributes of an absent-minded proefessor but, I mean, how can you lose your hiking boots? Practically every night for the last two months he has come home from work and the search begins again. He does not hike as much as he used to nor does he hike as much as I do which means there are longer time spans between use. Frankly, I think his beloved boots became angry with him over lack of exercise and they trudged away.

Or, they might be on the balcony of that place we stayed in Whistler last summer. Hmmm! Dave's boots come with a story. When we were living in France ten years ago while Dave was spending time at the cancer branch of the WHO, we visited the French Alps. One of the boot boutiques in Chamonix had a terrific sale (plus at that time the U.S. dollar was worth a hellava lot more and we had a different president). He bought these beautiful hiking boots for not much money.

We were staying on an upper floor of this narrow tall old European hotel that was built around a tiny courtyard. No access existed to the courtyard except through a locked private door on the first floor. Dave was leaning out the window spraying waterproof formula on his new boots when one of the brand new boots slipped from his grip and tumbled several floors down to the courtyard below. "Oh my, I wonder how many people saw a boot flying by their window!" I remarked.

"You speak French--go down there and find somebody to unlock the door and get my boot.....please?" Dave pleaded.

"Ah, it is your boot. You dropped it. I don't speak French well enough to figure out how to explain that my husband's boot is in the courtyard. They will think I threw it at you."

"But I don't speak a word---you have to go get it for me," he insisted.

Needless to say after more conversation, my husband went after his own boot. He did a lot of pointing into the courtyard. I still remember my stomach hurting and my eyes watering from laughing so hard as the kids and I watched the door below being unlocked so Dave could retrieve his boot. Crazy Americans!

The boots have served him well over the years and he has grown to love them like we do with our boots here in the Puget Sound area. He has been quite upset about not being able to find them. In fact, I also discussed the major "your dad lost his boots" problem with my son yesterday as he was missing his own boots. Lucas could not believe his Dad lost a pair of hiking boots---well, yes he could. I think it is time for Dave to begin the process of picking out some new boots. It is time.

And this time, maybe we can get them implanted with a micro-chip.