We're a little out of focus but our boots look cute!

We’re a little out of focus but our boots look cute!

Yesterday I wrote about Dora; today I’m thinking about Boots.  But not Dora’s blue monkey with the red boots.

One night last week, we limped back to the apartment after walking around New York all day.  My sister flopped down on the couch.  She propped her elegant black leather boots up on the Ikea coffee table.  “Hey, Vivi–come over here for a second.”

Vivi looked up at her from the plastic safari animals that she was arranging on the carpet.  “Why?”

Gay laughed.  “I need you to do me a favor.  Help me get these boots off.”  Vivi gave her a quizzical look and went back to the safari.

My sister managed to tug one boot but it was a struggle.  I stepped up.  I cupped one hand around the heel, braced my other hand across the arch then gave a gentle tug.  The boot slipped right off.  It’s been 35 years since I helped someone take off a boot, but I didn’t have to think.  It’s all about coming at it from the right angle.

I told Vivi, “You have to learn how to pull boots off if you’re the shortest person in the family.  I used to help Papa pull off his boots when he came home from working all day.”

My dad wore real cowboy boots, boots for working around actual cows.  Heavy cows, skittish cows, cows with sharp hooves, cows that manufacture manure.   Boots that spent some nights out on the porch, airing out.  About once a year, he’d bring home a new pair of boots in a sharp-sided square box with the Dingo label on the outside.  Or Justin.  Not Luchesse or Tony Lama, no ostrich skin or Lone Star cutouts.  Brown leather with a squarish heel.  These were boots you could pick up at the feed store.

That reminds me of a joke:  How can you tell the difference between a real cowboy and a fake cowboy?  With a real cowboy, the shit’s on the outside of his boots.

Hey, that reminds me of another joke:  He’s so stupid he couldn’t pour shit out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel.

That goes to show you:  I associate boots with manure.  Cow shit is just part of growing up around cows.  No big deal.  Nothing personal.  But here’s the funny part.  A little whiff of cow manure, mixed with some hay and sunshine–that’s one of my favorite smells.  It takes me back to hanging on the side of a cow pen fence or climbing out of the truck to open a gate.  

Helping my sister with her boots made me happy.  It took me back to a time when I was small but useful.  I had a job to do in our family and it gave my dad some relief at the end of a long day.  

What’s the smell that takes your right back to being a kid?  

20 thoughts on “Boots

  1. Michelle

    AQUA NET – Or whatever hairspray it was. I remember going to the salon with my mom to have her hair “fixed” for the week – and the lights and smells, it was all so very fancy for this “sheltered” kid.

  2. Ruth

    The first smell of a benson and hedges cigarette being lit followed immediately by the sound and feel of the little triangle window being opened in the van. Road trips with the family.

  3. Julie Booth

    Ashley -I’m right there with you on the manure + hay + sunshine! We didn’t have cows or horses, but I do love that smell and was around it enough growing up to associate it with childhood. Cut grass zaps me right back to playing in the yard as a kid and interestingly enough -beef roast. My mother often cooked a beef roast on low for Sunday dinner after church. After we arrived home, the house would smell AMAZING! And a variety of Estee Lauder perfumes conjure up a montage of moms (mine included) from childhood whose cars and clothes and homes were drenched in White Shoulders, Youth Dew, White Linen and others.

  4. Lisa in Athens

    Coty airspun powder – my grandmother used that in her regimen. I have her old vanity/dresser now, and the drawers still smell of it. (I also have a modern container in my cosmetics case – it’s plastic, but the scent is unchanged.)

  5. Sarah G

    Kiwi shoe polish in a can. I am instantly zipped back in time to sitting at my Daddy’s feet as he whistles and polishes his shoes for church and work.

  6. tinavaldes

    Freshly mowed grass and turned dirt!!! Some of my favorite memories of my grandfather are riding the lawnmower with him and helping him in the garden. Ahhhhhh… that makes me smile just thinking about it! A little misty-eyed here in Georgia. Thanks, Ashley! 🙂

  7. onetreenotaforest

    I, too, would pull off my daddy’s boots after we fed the cows each evening. As soon as I read manure + hay + sunshine, I was right there on the back of that truck with the hay and twine. I can also instantly smell all the aromas you and Julie mentioned, especially the roast after church. My maternal grandmother is in failing health, so I am currently penning childhood memories of spending time with her and my PaPa. During the summer, they had numerous gardens. My “smell of the moment” is tomatoes. They would spread hundreds of tomatoes on newspapers in the “spare” room to “ripen for canning.” That is a smell that I cannot really describe, but I can smell it at the mention of tomatoes…and it makes me smile !

      1. onetreenotaforest

        LOL !! I know !! And that little whistle on top might put your eye out if it flies off … WHY would you use an instrument that dangerous ? hahaha but i do love the green beans and tomatoes and all the other canned delights !

  8. Debbie

    My grandfather smelled of Copenhagen and Ben Gay. My mom kept a can of Copenhagen in her freezer for years after he passed. One sniff of that or Ben Gay and I’m right back on the arm of his chair as he read to me… and then as I read to him.

    The air before a rain and a summer morning are two things Fabreeze will never capture, but if they did, I would buy it by the case.

  9. Pingback: Sunday Sweetness–My Daddy | Baddest Mother Ever

Want to Leave a Comment? Please Do!