Southern Girl's Guide to Boot Buyin'

Daddy once knew a man, who shot himself in the foot. The fellow was purportedly sitting on his porch when he, all of a sudden, snatched up his gun and obliterated the one that went to market. No one is certain why he did it. Some speculated that he was drunk, saw his piggy wiggling and mistook it for a critter across the yard. Others said he wasn’t playing with a full deck, and ain’t no tellin’ what a short-decked man might do or why he did it.
I might have agreed with this theory a few weeks ago; however, I may have discovered what motivated the man. He probably had a pair of sock-eatin’ boots. Now, some might think sock-eatin’ boots are no reason to go and shoot yourself in the foot. But this is the South, and around here, boots are serious business. Sneakers might be fine for power walking city folks, but us country folk need a pair of sturdy, every-day boots. How else could we garden, mow, prowl a pasture, feed the varmints, hop the creek, jump a fence, put up hay, climb a mountain, show things with motors who’s boss and shoo away ankle-biting animals?
As far as I’m concerned, boots are a bare necessity.
Unfortunately, a good pair is hard to find, so I do tend to wear the old ones until they are a source of misery for all people in favor of fashionable footwear. Unfortunately, after hopping the creek at Mamma’s one Sunday, I noticed water seeping in around the sole. Ain’t nothing a southern girl despises more than soggy socks. So, I set out on Monday in search of new boots.
When purchasing boots, there are four features one must consider: fit, tread, kick-ability, and jiggle-soundness.
The best way to test the fit is to put the boot on, put your foot out and shake it all about. If your ankle feels unstable or the boot wobbles, don’t buy it. A boot that can’t Hokey Pokey ain’t worth having.
Next is the tread test. I stand flat-footed on a slanted outcrop of rocks behind Mamma’s. If I can reach the second limb of Pap’s persimmon tree without slipping, fracturing a bone or bruising something important, I consider the tread passable.
Now, there’s the kick-ability aspect. This refers to the strength of the toe box. Kick-ability is useful when shutting tricky tailgates, checking woodpiles for snakes, repairing temperamental appliances and/or warding off possible weiner dog attacks. To obtain the highest level of kick-ability, I recommend steel-toed boots. However, a fair amount can be obtained by buying boots with a rubberized sole, which extends ¼ inch beyond the toe. This creates the bounce factor – or the momentum created when the rubber strikes a hard surface. The bounce factor takes some of the work out of kicking stuff, but if you’re not careful you can stub a toe or cause unintentional denting of the washing machine.
Finally, the most crucial feature of any boot is jiggle-soundness. Any time you step in a cow pile or something else you don’t want to drag home, you should be able to locate the nearest water source, insert the bottom of your boot and jiggle it around, thereby dislodging any offensive debris. After all, there are some things in life you simply can’t rake off.
Three stores and countless boots later, I purchased a pair I thought would meet my standards but the boots started eating my socks. There was some sort of vacuum effect in the heel that caused the sock to be sucked down to my toes. Baby Sister suggested the problem was my socks. So, I wore different socks, tall socks, short socks, my husband’s socks and even went to Wal-Mart and purchased new socks.
Finally, I gave up and returned the boots.
“Eating your socks?” The clerk said skeptically.
“Yep.” I assured him.
His solution was arch-support socks. I resented the implication that my arch was the problem, but I was desperate.
“Okay, how much do they cost?” I asked.
After a few moments of rooting around in what I suspect was the orthopedic old lady supplies, the fellow returned with a single pair of socks. They appeared to have an Ace bandage sewn around the arch.
“Where are the rest of them?” I asked.
“They are $32.95 a pair, ma’am.”
And I laughed.
First of all, I’m not keen on wearing bandages around my foot and if I were, I’d not pay $32 to do so. For this amount of money, I expect a whole package of socks, a free shoeshine, an extra set of laces in the color of my choice and a complementary key chain.
“Honey,” I said kindly, “do I look like a person who’d pay $33 for a pair of socks?”
Needless to say, the clerk kept the socks. I swapped my boots for a new pair of sandals.
As the salesman was ringing up my purchase, he grinned at me and said, “Just so there are no misunderstandings, these sandals are not intended to be waterproof or worn with socks.”
The point is I understand why a man might be inclined to shoot himself in the foot. I, however, am partial to my body parts and far too chicken to shoot anything. I have considered testing my new boots kick-ability on a witty shoe salesman though.


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