I was innocently trying to kill some time while waiting for a bus. So I went window browsing, and without warning, spied THAT pair of boots. Jet black, the perfect heel for walking, no, more like strutting. Boots that would rise high up on my leg, past my knee. I was a woman on the verge, near the point of no return, American Express in hand, when it occurred to me…
I’m 51 years old. What 51-year-old woman would wear THOSE boots?
I am a child of the sixties. One of the artifacts from that period that I remember so well are the white boots made popular by that ersatz feminist classic from Nancy Sinatra. A tune that jumps into my mind every time I see boots I like—and I like most boots. I had a happy childhood but one point of denial that cruelly stands out is the fact that I never had a pair of Go-Go boots. They were all the rage, ubiquitous, even in the dusty and dark five and dime department stores of the small town in which I grew up. I wanted them so badly. My mom explained very carefully that if I were to wear something everyone else in the world was wearing, how would anyone know how special I was. This was my mother’s pseudo hippie version of “if your friend jumped off the bridge.” At six years old, I didn’t particularly want to be special. I wanted Go-Go boots.
Those sleek black past-the-knee boots in the window had that same effect on me. No doubt I’d look special in them. But perhaps a little too special for someone my age?
It all comes back to what 50, 60 and beyond is supposed to look like these days. In my mind, I scroll up images of my grandmother when she was my age. I see her in her pull-up polyester pants and Naturalizer loafers, a thick cable cardigan with her perpetual tissue shoved up the sleeve, Revlon Cherries in the Snow dabbed on faintly. Nope, I’m nowhere near there yet. My 75 year-old cancer surviving mom is absolutely no help—while she has dressy “mature” women’s suits for going out and the odd fancy blouse, she pretty much lives in non-mom jeans, with black tee-shirts in summer, and black turtlenecks in winter. And clogs. Always clogs. Jack Kerouac could have been her style maven—and she could do a lot worse. My mom loves my clothes though, and when she visits, she often tells me I look nice when I leave for work in the morning. I say this with a touch of the braggart. I know how many daughters would give their eyeteeth to hear that kind of simple, unprovoked maternal validation just once. Yes, I’m lucky.
Back to the boots. They had a stretchy nylon back panel, so I could rule out the danger of aneurisms. That also meant they would fit my ex-skater's calves. Reaching past my knee, they would cover the pale fractal-like arches of fine spider veins that have begun to explode at random on my legs, the toll I’m paying for too many Payless cheap shoe binges. They’d disappear under longer skirts, modestly meet my shorter skirts and give my pants a Ralph Lauren-esque equestrian edge. More importantly, they’d let me stride into a room, force me to stand up razor straight, be full of my own power. And did I mention that they really are some kinda sexy? Oh yes. I love those boots.
But to be honest, I’m afraid they’re going to make me look like I’m trying to be something I’m not.