Friday, October 16, 2009

Red Cowboy Boots



I have red cowboy boots, ordered from the new Norm Thompson catalog, boots which I will mostly wear for Bayview Sound gigs, since they fit our "American roots" image and repertoire, but I will also wear them to feel like the cowgirl I used to be.

When I told the band about ordering them, they insisted that if they were that purty (that's the cowgirl spelling) I should wear my pants tucked in so the decorative stitching could be seen. We had a big argument about this, as I was adamant that real cowgirls NEVER tuck their pantslegs inside their boots. I am not a dude!

They weren't convinced, so I discussed it with the Athena Pals, Mary Alice especially. She still lives in Pendleton and attends RoundUp every year and is one of the editors of the new 100th Anniversary of the RoundUp cookbook, entitled "Beyond the Bull". They wanted to see a picture, so I sent them the one you see above.

We were agreed that real cowgirls don't wear their pantslegs tucked in because it looks affected, but Mary Alice allowed as how some modern cowgirl fashionistas DO tuck, if the boots are really fancy.

I will be interested to hear what folks like Lizard Eater and other real Westerners have to say about it, but my mind is pretty well made up. Cowgirls wear their jeans OVER their boot-tops.

Here's the deal: I was born in a small town in Washington, lived in Portland OR for awhile, and then moved with my family out to the small north-eastern Oregon town of Athena, where I spent the next nine years of my life riding horses in the fields and along the unpaved streets of town, driving a truck in pea harvest and wheat harvest, and attending a high school where my graduating class numbered barely 20.

Going to small liberal arts Linfield College south of Portland was a huge shift in consciousness for me because of the wide world of thought it opened up, but never ever did I lose my sense of being a small-town Western girl.

When I had a chance to choose which American Baptist Home Mission field I wanted to serve after college graduation, I asked for Denver, unable to fathom a home where I couldn't see real mountains, even though the Rockies didn't look like the mountains I was used to. Real mountains were formed by volcanos, not accidents of geology.

When I studied for the ministry and had a chance to choose the geographical location I wanted, I specified Oregon or Washington, again unable to fathom a home without mountains or water. Colorado had pretty well dried me out and I needed to re-hydrate, both literally and figuratively.

It's always been clear to me that the Pacific Northwest is different from all other areas of the country. It's Western, for sure, but it's also unique in its attitude toward life. Ways of being on the East Coast sometimes seem ridiculous in the PNW. I get the New York Times, and I love it for its news coverage but am astounded at what I see culturally. It would just seem so affected out here.

Many people who relocate to the Pacific Northwest from areas east of the Rockies need to recalibrate who they are in this country which challenges the landlocked midwesterner and the cultural attitudes of the eastern and southern states. The water, the rain, the ocean, the Sound, the trees, the underbrush, the volcanos, the adventurous spirit this land requires: if you grow up here, you will rarely be truly happy anywhere else.

For all the years of my marriage to a midwesterner who adopted Colorado as his home, I wanted to come back to my birthplace. When we divorced, I considered moving then, but it would not have been fair to him or to the Favorite Son. But when ministry called, it was my ticket home.

So back to the red cowboy boots: I think I'll wear them today.

26 comments:

patrickmurfin said...

An old Wyoming cowboy can confirm the taboo against tucked in pants in boots--that goes for the men,too. If you want to show off those fancy tops, you have to go back to the skirt-like culotts worn by the likes of Patsy Montana, Dale Evans, and rodeo queens of the '50's. It's a dated, but not unatractive look.

ms. kitty said...

Hey, Patrick, my dad was a cowboy in Wyoming in the 1920s----Pinedale. Where were you?

patrickmurfin said...

I know Pinedale, in the rugged country of the Green River drainage, still mostly open range to this day. Compared to your Dad, I was a city slicker. I grew up in Cheyenne. But my dad was Secretary of the Frontier Committee that produced Frontier Days (the Daddy of ‘em All) in the 1950’s and got to know the famous rodeo stars of the day like Casey Tibbs, Big Jim Shoulders, the Bell brothers, and the great clown Wilber Plauger (sp?). And I also got to meet western stars that came in for the show, including the aforementioned Patsy Montana, Gabby Hayes, Tex Ritter, Rex Allen, The Sons of the Pioneers and TV stars like Chuck Connors and Hugh O’Brian. I have pictures of myself and my late twin brother all decked out in high cowboy for the occasion.

ms. kitty said...

Boy howdy, Patrick, you're way ahead of me in the cowboy/cowgirl department! Wonderful to hear all those names again! I used to try to go to Frontier Days periodically; the Stock Show in Denver was a regular feature of my 34 years in Colorado. The RoundUp was my first rodeo and I rode in the Westward Ho parade every year, went to school with RoundUp court and Happy Canyon princesses, and loved it all. Still do, even though rodeo isn't particularly politically correct these days.

craftyrene said...

Hey Kit,
I grew up in a rodeo family. The only person riding horses and allowed to tuck their pants in their boots was a rodeo clown! Everyone else who knew anything about horses and riding wore their pants over their boots.

ms. kitty said...

I didn't know that about you, Rene! How cool! And how nice to have my belief confirmed by another cowgirl.

kimc said...

I don't know anything about cowgirls or cowboys (though I do have a pair of 41 year old Frye boots), but your use of the word "affected" jumped out at me. Isn't studied casual-ness just as affected as formality? Or maybe I misunderstood you?

Robin Edgar said...

Enjoy Ms. Kitty. ;-)

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, Robin.

Heidi Alford said...

Oh Kit, I just had to jump in on this conversation. Seeing as I am a cowgirl, at least when playing Cowgirls Ride the Trail of Truth. I dug out some of the cards in that game because they are photos of cowgirls. I see lots of skirts, some pants over boots, and some very poofy culotts (?) that are tucked into socks above the knee.Only one straight legged pair of pants tucked in. You go Kit! Of course, I'm distracted by the quotes,"If you do a foolish thing, do it like you mean it." Love that one.Also, "If you live past birth, you'll make mistakes."

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, Heidi!

Miss Kitty said...

Those are gorgeous, Ms. K! And now you're enabling me to buy my own pair of red boots! :-)

The PNW sounds wonderful. I hope to visit someday, and will certainly give you a shout when I do.

Lizard Eater said...

I'm with ya on looking "affected." It's like when you get all dressed and gussied up and you take off one item, so you don't look overdone. Thin line between looking nice and "hey, look at me."

So, my 2 pesos: not tucked in, unless you're going to be out in high weeds and want to be sure that ticks can't crawl up your pants leg. But you might want to consider a nice dark denim skirt (not a prairie skirt) that'll show 'em off.

ms. kitty said...

Let's hear it for more red boots in the world, Miss K! Go for it!

And LE, I knew you would chime in with another REAL Westerner comment--thanks for the thought.

ms. kitty said...

And, Miss K, any time you're out this way, you best give me a holler. My kittehs need some Southern loving!

ms. kitty said...

PS. There is no hidden meaning in the above comment.

Chalicechick said...

I think once one has bought red cowboy boots the ship of "not looking affected" has sailed.

I vote you go the Dolly Parton route, embrace that they are a little over the top and wear them however you want to.

CC
who is used to the kind of horseback riding where one's books are always over one's riding breeches, so she doesn't have an opinion on the jeans.

ogre said...

kimc, "studied" casualness is the inescapable result of actually considering the question. In this case, Ms. Kitty's observed that it's normative for cowboy boot wearers to not tuck pants into the boots (unless they're clowns, apparently--which would seem like a good reason for others to avoid the association). Wearing them tucked in is LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT MY PRETTY BOOTS behavior; it's all about the shoes....

One might ask the same question of underwear; once you contemplate why one doesn't wear it as outerwear, and concludes that people think it looks silly and affected... is it studied not to indulge in the behavior?

Christina Martin said...

A pair of boots like that goes a long way toward making me wish my calves could fit into boots. :)

kimc said...

orge -- I don't know. Is asking ANY question of how it looks to wear ____ "studied" and "affected"? Is it possible to be conscious of how one looks and NOT be "affected"? What's the difference between wanting to look good, or normal or stylish, etc, and being "affected". Is there any reason that a more casual style is necessarily less "affected" than a more formal style?

Miss Kitty said...

LOL Ms. K! No "hidden meaning" seen in the comment. :-)

Pixie and I had several boot-related conversations when I visited last week--they were among the happier moments in our Weekend of Shoe-Shopping FAIL. Maybe I should write a post about it. Hmmm.

Mile High Pixie said...

LOL! A female pal of mine in high school (in Georgia) who worked in a stable and had horses used to mock people fore wearing their pants tucked into their boots because, as she put it, it looked like the person was afraid of getting s**t on their boots. A more citified friend said, "Yeah, I *am* afraid of that--the boots seem easier to hose off than the pants."

How funny--I hadn't thought of this debate in probably twenty years!

(And over Labor Day weekend, we camped in Pinedale--marvelous place!)

ogre said...

kimc, if being conscious (aware) of how something looks is definitionally "affected," then the term seems to lose almost all meaning.

People (for example) dress to look professional, or tidy, or 'nice'--and we seem to distinguish between that, and "having a look" or a style... and being affected.

Affected seems related, conceptually, to the notion of being "over the top."

Anonymous said...

I love your boots! where did you get them?

ms. kitty said...

Norm Thompson catalog, anonymous! But it was a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

Why do females have more freedom in menswear styles while males are severely limited by " artificial " anti-male gender rules which form negative " stereotypes. One big one is : cowboys/ males don't or can't wear tapered legged pants tucked into cowboy or tall equestrian boots. Tell that to all the calvary soldiers from all Western countries that rode that way for many, many centuries or more recently the w.w. II Germany army. In Hollywood; all the famous cowboy stars wore skinny pants tucked into an assorted awry of boots.Because females wear our clothes and footwear most of the time for about the last fifty years, why are we mocked on and have their sexual preference questioned by slander or libeled ? Females have negated any " smart remarks about their sexuality inspite of their 24/ 7 transvestism; such sexism !