BY WILL MARCUS
Advancements in the field of materials science combined with contemporary fashion aesthetics have given us thousands of high-tech footwear options that have the power to simultaneously confuse and anger your grandpa.
As we all know, when it comes to most relatively unimportant matters, grandpa really does know best — footwear is no exception. Have you ever tried on a pair of New Balance walking shoes? Those shoes are literally so comfortable that nothing could ever make you uncomfortable. With those shoes on you might gain the ability to nap on any piece of furniture, in any position. You might find yourself completely unable to filter your thoughts in any capacity because you no longer fear being uncomfortable in any social situation. Not to mention, the convenience of Velcro is nothing short of miraculous.
Regardless, the point I’m making is that grandpa knows what’s good when it comes to footwear. He realized that the technology to create the perfect shoe was established before 1985, and any further shoe evolution is equal parts superfluous and moderately upsetting. All of this being said, boots are not shoes — and your grandpa undoubtedly has some thoughts about this category of footwear as well.
Your grandpa knows that a real boot has precisely five ingredients: leather, wood, threading, a small rubber grip for the heel for optimal safety and, finally, homegrown American craftsmanship. Real boots do not involve “Shox,” “Air” or “Pumps.” Modern cowboy boots might be a little more colorful and a little more fashionable, but they have remained virtually unchanged for the past few centuries. They are the great white shark of footwear; they have been evolutionary perfect for a relative eternity compared to all other types, and there is a plethora of reasons you should own a pair. I’m going to use the rest of this piece to list every one of these rationales from most absurd to most reasonable.
Reason 1: Cowboy boots are your ultimate insurance against spontaneous time travel. If you find yourself suddenly ripped through the space-time continuum and transported back in time within three and half centuries, no one will bat an eye at your footwear. Depending on the rest of your outfit, no one is going to accuse you of witchcraft or being the devil, which means that your boots could very well spare you a very unpleasant demise. If you’re rocking your limited edition Nike Airforce Ones in a 19th century small town drag in Texas, you’re going to have some explaining to do — and people may not exactly be open to listen to what you have to say. So buy a pair of boots and get the peace of mind you never thought you needed until now.
Reason 2: You can lie to foreigners about what Texas is like. To the average person who’s never been to the United States, Texas is a mythological place shrouded by dense clouds of indecipherable insanity. For example, Norwegians use “Texas” as an adjective that has the same meaning as “crazy” and/or “awesome.” So if you’re lucky enough to be wearing your boots while talking to someone who is totally clueless about the realities of Texas, you’ll have enough credibility to convince them of just about anything. I love to recount the story of that one time in the third grade when the teachers made Kyle and I engage in a duel because he stole the Reese’s cup from my Lunchables — or how local Texan businesses, like the neighborhood feed store, are considerate enough to have a complementary raised water troughs near the hitching posts to give your horse, Otis, something to drink while you shop, and they’ll always have a bucket of $0.50 carrots and/or apples by the register if you want to give Otis a treat. Now, I’ve never left someone with such misconceptions, but telling some temporary Texas tall tales to someone who will believe you is a joy you can experience if you get a pair of cowboy boots.
Reason 3: Putting your feet up on various objects from a seated position is a great pleasure you had no idea you ever wanted. Whether you’re on the sofa and you throw your boots up on the coffee table before you tell your roommate what’s what, or you’re sitting in an office chair and you throw your boots on your large desk before you tell anyone what’s what, you’ll experience an unprecedented surge of confidence and sense of authority. For better or for worse, whatever “what” you want to communicate will be imbued with incredible emphasis. Even if you’re just enjoying a nice cup of coffee on the porch, putting your boots up on the table will fill you with a desire to embrace a slower pace of life and just enjoy the little things.
Reason 4: Cowboy boots make you 1.5-2 inches taller and do not have the same social stigma as “Lifts” shoe inserts, piggyback rides or walking everywhere on your tip toes. ‘Nuff said.
Reason 5: They last forever and age like wine. I bought my first pair in 2008 and have been kicking around in them ever since.
Reason 6: You will never find anything more comfortable. If you get a real boot with a leather sole, your foot will mold it over time. If you’ve been wearing the same pair for seven years like I have, you’ll feel like Zeus himself crafted them to fit the exact dimensions of your foot and idiosyncrasies of your stride. Meanwhile, if someone else with the same foot size tried them on, they likely wouldn’t be able to walk more than a few city blocks before getting too uncomfortable to continue. You will literally own your boots like no other footwear in your closet.
In conclusion, I believe that I have spoken to no more than one-tenth of the merits of cowboy boots. Do yourself a favor, buy a pair and hop on this bandwagon — its a fun place to be. And if you regret your decision, I’ll eat my hat.
Will Marcus is a senior International Studies and political science double major from Austin. He is the Opinions Editor.