I am a native Texan. No brag, just fact, as they say. It occurred to me that this might be important to establish since many gallons of electronic ink are spent each week by Texas Outlaw Writers in reminding people of the inescapable truth that Texas politicians at every level of government are the most cynical and corrupt bunch of drooling mouth breathers in the entire lower 48. Sorry, Louisiana and Illinois, you ladies are ugly, too, but you just don’t cut the mustard. Please note I specified politicians, by the way. We all know no one holds a candle to the sheer stupidity of your average Floridian when it comes to stunts that combine crystal meth, ATVs, rebel flags, alligators and urine.
The point is that it seemed worth a few minutes of your time for me to remind you that though we may despise everything the Lone Star State has become politically, it most decidedly does NOT mean we hate Texas. Speaking for myself, I can tell you that nothing quite rankles like hearing an effete East-coaster saying things like “Let them secede.” Let me tell you something, Rutherford. Texas was a hotbed of farm-labor socialism when your New England ancestors were perfecting new ways to screw the little guy. It was a Texan, a drawling rancher who your daddies loved to make fun of, who passed most every Civil Rights bill that the radical right is currently shredding. Only three states had more people vote for Hilary in 2016 than did Texas. In other words, it’s okay for us to talk about our own, but y’all might want to watch your smart little mouths.
There are any number of realms in which Texas is clearly superior to the rest of the nation. We have the best and most diverse food. Though New York exceeds us in certain cuisines, to be sure, no state comes close to matching the breadth of excellence that you can slide across your taste buds down here. Music? Hell, we are tops at both country AND western. We had the best R&B label in the world over a decade before Motown opened its doors. From the earliest blues stars to the latest hip hop, people from elsewhere have no clue how many of those folks are Texans. Beyonce and Selena. I see no need to go on. From sunsets to great athletes, from great sights to great smells, we probably have your state beat. Yes, pretentious Californians, I’m looking at you.
I may very well pontificate on every one of those topics and more at some future date, but today, I write about the artful thing of beauty that is the cowboy boot. While I fully understand that today’s Texas is a giant cosmopolitan state where almost 40% of our citizens no longer ride horses for work or feel quite so free to spit indoors, manly footwear still comes with a riding heel. Not to mention that in today’s dating market, you never know when you might get a request for spurs. All that amounts to one thing, while athletic shoes might be the most popular footwear in America, they pale next to a good ole’ cowboy boot.
Sure, there’s a sizable argument to be made that one can go faster in running shoes. My answer: tell that to Walker, Texas Ranger, or Marshall Sam McCloud. Shoot, we’re up to our ears in heroes that can chase down a bad guy without having to worry about any laces tripping him up. Marshall Matthew Dillon. Ranger Captain Woodrow Call. Any of the Cartwrights except Angela. On the other hand, take a look at Dustin Hoffman from Marathon Man. He wore running shoes, and he got his butt kicked and his teeth pulled out. Case closed.
A nice pair of Luccheses or Justins can take you just about any place you want to go. They work fine with a suit, ask Percy Foreman, Racehorse Haynes, Dick DeGuerin or any other flashy lawyer worth his salt. Every Hollywood starlet and British royal has worn them with dresses. (Prince Phillip was quite fetching.) They’re tailor-made for jeans whether skin-tight or stiff with trail dust. You can even wear them with shorts, a la Robert Duvall from Apocalypse Now. But most importantly of all for anyone trying to make an impression, other people dig ‘em. Why you can’t even get into a C&W dance hall wearing your little sneakers. But sidle up to a bar with a pair of peanut brittle ostriches on your feet and a slightly rakish Stetson on your head, order an ice cold longneck, get a good lean on and you got more action than you can shake a stick at. (“If that’s your idea of a good time”- G. Marx) That is until they find out you can’t dance without people alerting the paramedics.
But that is entirely beside the point. When I slip on one of the pairs of Texas boots from my closet, I can do so without any gnawing guilt that they were assembled by scores of emaciated Saipanese children being cattle prodded by some US Protectorate-flaunting, under-the-table-lobby-money-giving, Phil Knight-licking goon. I don’t have to envision my scraped-together dollars going to buy a bottle of gold-infused designer water for Michael Jordan or Kanye. If my boots are made by kids chained to a sewing machine, well, at least they’re little Texans, by God!
I’ve got another question, too. Does anyone truly believe that the soles of running shoes are computer designed to infuse your every stride with custom support and aerodynamic fluidity? Do you think those outrageous prices are justified by some other-worldy R&D budget? Doesn’t anyone remember that the first Nikes got their sole design from a waffle iron? I do. On top of that, they just are not comfortable. Seriously. I’ve got four or five different brands of athletic, running or walking shoes. I so very much want for them to feel good, but at the end of 8 hours on concrete, every last bloody pair of them leaves me with a sore back, pained arches and achy knees. Ergo, I can only conclude that athletic shoe companies are among the biggest rip-offs in the entire global cesspool of marketing rip-offs. I don’t think I’m too far out on a limb when I tell you that the vast majority of today’s running shoe soles are designed by crayon-wielding spider monkeys hopped up on Zoloft and peanut butter cups.
And that’s another thing! It’s my theory that nowhere in that carved rubber miasma will you discover two soles that are absolutely alike. They’re like snowflakes, I tell you. If O.J. Simpson had worn running shoes, he’d be in prison today, where he belongs. As his cellmate Lucas might say, “If the shoe fits, you must submit.”
Furthermore, athletic shoes don’t last. It’s not just me saying that. The esteemed and trusted folks at cnet.com will tell you that running shoes, a good expensive pair, mind you, should last from four to six months. Admittedly, that’s for people who actually run, and God alone knows why that would seem like something to do. They say that those folks who do a mere 20 miles a week will be binning their $200 shoes in as little as four months. Considering I have boxer shorts from the Clinton administration, I find that shameful.
Compare that track record (pun intended) with Texas boots. Do some browsing at most Texas antique stores, and you’ll find a display of vintage cowboy boots. Trendy women from the Metroplex swoon over that kind of thing, just itching to pair them with a bedazzled denim skirt. (They make excellent powder to stop that itching, btw.) Cowboy boots are so special you find them in oil paintings. Contrast that with the last time you went to Grandma’s house and saw a bunch of plastic daisies jammed into a reeking old Asic.
Simplicity. Versatility. Legacy. Style. And the true feel of the Texas frontier. Keep those things firmly in mind… the next time you’re sitting there with a toothpick trying to dig bull dookey off the bottom of your running shoes.