When I was in fourth or fifth grade all I wanted was a pair of white go-go boots. I didn’t want the short ankle boots that looked cowgirlesque. I wanted the kind women dancing in cages wore. The kind my older sister wore.
I finally got them, but the process was no cake walk.
I am nine years younger than my sister, and she was a cross between Nancy Sinatra and Maria from The Sound of Music to me. Our mother sewed a couple of short dresses with bell sleeves that went along with her boots for a “gig” my sister had when she was a sophomore at St. Catherine of Laboure High School. I wanted a gig.
At that time though, my gig was walking to Most Holy Name of Jesus School with our brother, Steve. He was in eighth grade and I was in first grade. He used to ply me with candy from the corner store so that I wouldn’t tell our parents that he had to stay after. Needless to say, that candy train ran out of licorice and I eventually turned him in, something I'm still not proud of.
The clarity of my childhood comes and goes, but I do remember my brother thinking it was a good idea to stuff the ass of his pants with pot holders so it wouldn’t hurt when he got a beating. Beating is maybe a strong word, but my mostly even-keeled father could fly off the handle at my brother. I used to think the girls were for dad and the boys were for mom. Either way, we all drew the short end of the stick at some point.
Back to the go-go boots.
I wanted them. My friends had them and I pined for them. Granted my friends were dorks, but by God, they had go-go boots.
Like most things in my life, eventually I get the thing I covet. It usually takes me about 30 years. The go-go boots were an exception.
I begged my way into a pair. We got to Hill Brothers finally. My dad was assigned the task of taking me to get the boots. Remember, I didn’t want the leathery kind with texture. I wanted the shiny patent leather boots that went up my calf.
After a brief stop at Jenneman’s bar for a little fortification, my dad was ready for the task.
I don’t remember the trying on or the purchasing, which I may have blocked out due to the embarrassment of a parent watching me try something on, but I distinctly remember the boots. They looked much better a few years before on my teenage sister. There’s nothing pretty about an 11 year old in go-go boots.
To make matters worse, after owning them for about a week they looked like I had walked through a field of tires. Black scuff marks everywhere. Luckily, I had friends in the know who explained to me that it was best to take a little Comet and a wet paper towel to the scuff marks.
I examined those boots nightly, looking for the black slashes that showed up around the bottom. I got the Comet out from under the kitchen sink and diligently scrubbed the marks away.
It was quite a process.
Trouble was, once I got those boots they sort of became a pain in the ass and weren’t very glamorous at all. Just one more thing to clean with Comet.
Isn’t that the way it is, though? We think we want something and then we get it and it’s never quite what we imagined.
Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment. – Mark Twain