Ready to give The Boots the boot

As snowfall has followed snowfall this winter, footwear has become increasingly important.
As snowfall has followed snowfall this winter, footwear has become increasingly important. (MATT ROURKE / AP)
Posted: March 06, 2014

The Boots were homely to begin with. Women's footwear, like 19th century literary heroines, tends to split decidedly into two camps: fetching and impractical, or plain and sensible. The Boots - dirt-brown, scuffed, salt-encrusted, attempting to be both biker and cowboy, yet failing at both - are decidedly of the second camp.

Also, The Boots were not cheap. A friend sniffed, "Not my favorites." Then again, what does she know? She wears hand-painted clogs.

Now, more than a decade later, The Boots verge on antique. As happens to almost everything undergoing the aging process, The Boots have become even uglier, which I did not believe possible. Uglier, and still not approaching hip.

But here's the thing: The Boots, with wedged and ridged rubber soles, have gotten me through this ridiculous season. "Napoleonic," The Inquirer's weather blogger, Tony Wood, declared of the snowfall total, possibly because of winter's will to dominate everything in its path. Storm after storm, an average of an inch of that stuff every four days, The Boots are the only ones that work.

Footwear billed as built for snow, including an ersatz pair of L.L. Bean boots, provide no more traction than ice skates. Snow clogs? Clobbered. (Another reason to resist all clogs.) The Boots? They laugh at winter, scoff at snow, mock ice, especially that evil base coat lurking below.

Walking a mile to the train each way with several ice-coated hills, I have not fallen in them once. True, I mastered ridiculous, tiny, mincing geisha steps to do so. But The Boots will not fail me.

Most likely, you have similar footwear, the one pair of boots that gets you through any ghastly mush nature hurls your way.

Know what? I hate The Boots.

I realize it's more likely that I hate the weather, the winter that will not quit, avoiding that conversation - the conversation of the season - and am taking out my frustration on aesthetically challenged footwear, but I have come to really, really hate The Boots.

They might as well be surgically attached to my feet, while other footwear - certainly more fetching footwear, but what isn't? - gathers dust in the closet, neglected and forlorn. What do our soles know of pumps and loafers, ballet flats and slingbacks, even sneakers? How I miss sneakers. Basically, this season requires two kinds of foot coverings: The Boots and, indoors, the socks lurking underneath.

I dream of sandals.

Sandals have become the forbidden footwear, teasing, increasingly out of reach.

One snowy day, I became determined to ignore The Boots and favor another pair, boots that are nearly flat, black, and knee-high, and appear practical.

But appearances, as we know, can be heartless in their deception.

Those boots did not make it out of the driveway before failing, initiating one giant schuss on the hidden, nefarious base coat of ice, and landing the wearer - in skirt and tights, mind you - onto her rear and into the thick maw of snow. Humbled, humiliated, beaten, I crawled back up, sliding repeatedly, and put on The Boots, the ugly, aging, salt-encrusted, unhip, indomitable boots that will most likely be my only footwear for years to come.

And we are going to have more snow. This, rather than the lottery, you should bet on. We are going to have more snow even with Sunday's arrival of Daylight Saving Time. Why? So we have more light to look at the filthy Alps of snow? To taunt us that spring is nowhere near approaching and may even be canceled? Soon, this winter will no longer be Napoleonic, but Jeffersonian, even Shaquian.

I dream of burning The Boots.

If I buy more boots, the moment they arrive, winter will surely end. Realizing that "ersatz" is German for not even close, I decided to purchase a real pair of L.L. Bean boots.

Sold out, they aren't available until May 7.

Which seems about right.

I may die with my boots on but, please, not The Boots.


kheller@phillynews.com215-854-2586 @kheller

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