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    By Mama Redcloud

    I recently went shopping on-line for a pair of boots. I was looking for specific criteria: they had to be insulated, because my office is kept at around 60F winter and summer. But they had to be styled so to pass muster as dress shoes, because after all it is an office, not a barn. They had to come in a size small enough for my teeny tiny feet (which, let's just say, can fit into shoes with pictures of Barbie on them). And they had to be affordable. As you might expect, I looked at a lot of boots before finding the perfect pair.

            In the course of my shopping, I discovered that when you buy boots, you're not just buying footwear; you're buying fantasies - at least I hope they are fantasies - of aggression and violence.

            I'm not talking about boots made and marketed for explicitly sexual purposes, although it has come to my attention that there are such things. I mean ordinary, unsexy, warm, waterproof, practical boots, such as might be worn by a stodgy, unadventurous person such as myself. But apparently the people who market boots believe that stodgy, unadventurous people harbor secret yearnings for mayhem and destruction, which can be harnessed and used to bolster boot sales. And who's to say they're wrong?

    Here's what boot sellers think we think about.

    1. The military
    Many boots have military-inspired names like Commando, Trooper, Recon ("with an aggressive outsole"), Assault Boots ("with tactical footbed"), and Magnum Stealth. The ads make claims like, "Nothing keeps a soldier's feet drier." I'm wondering: do real soldiers buy their boots on-line? I would have thought they would get them from the army or something.
            Some of the advertising in this category gives surprisingly mixed messages. I wonder about "combat booties." Commando boots come in patent leather, which seems a bit dandified to me (but maybe it's so they can reflect what's under your kilt). And what, in this context, are we to make of the boot called the Peacekeeper? Is this a reference to the famous 1873 Colt pistol? the ICBM? Or should we be thinking of blue-helmeted UN troops from Canada or Denmark?

    2. Thugs and hit men
    Do you like causing grievous bodily harm, but find military discipline too confining? Then these boots are for you. They are called things like Silencer, Eliminator, Enforcer, Terminator, and - my personal favorite - Super Brute. Makes me think of that sinister moment in Diamonds Are Forever where the head bad guy orders his henchmen to "come back with the boots." They do, and proceed to give James Bond a "Brooklyn stomping. Eighty percenter." (Alas, they have to make do with ordinary football boots, special scarily-named boots not having been invented in 1956.)
            The boots themselves don't seem quite as sociopathic as their names suggest, though. The Terminator, for example, is simply a boot designed for extremely cold weather. Perhaps someone who hadn't been watching quite so many action movies could have come up with a more suitable name?

    3. Hunting and other manly pursuits
    In this category we have the Logger, the One-Shot, the Elk Stalker, the Buck Stalker, and, oddly, the Corn Stalker. There are special boots for killing every species, including some which I would have thought were protected, like bison.

    4. Poop
    "You won't find a better boot for mucking stalls."
    "Boots for working hard, playing hard, or just plain old shitkicking boots."

            In the end, I did find a great pair of boots. They are hunting boots - specifically, duck hunting boots. Which brings me to my new motto, "A day in my office is like a day in a duck blind."

            I like my boots a lot. They fit well. They're comfortable. They're plain, black, and call no attention to themselves in any way. They've proven their worth over a snowy winter and the coldest, wettest spring I can remember. They have kept my feet warm in snow and rain at several NO WAR WITH IRAQ demonstrations. I think I'll call them "The Candlelight Vigil."



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