Although the scientists working on the Human Genome Project have yet to make an official announcement, I think it is quite evident that the gene coding for "liking shoes" is to be found on the X chromosome. Certainly, on average, men care about shoes at a level roughly half that of women. And there are outliers. I for instance have managed a degree of affection for exactly one pair of footwear in my imposing span of years.
It was a pair of LaCrosse hiking boots, sold under their "Quad" brand. I got them on sale at the local outlet store.
Partly it was a matter of them coming to me at the proper time. I had been working far too long in a practice setting rife with difficult personalities and politics. In fact, as a precursor to my making a permanent break with the place, I had just announced that I would be taking the month of June off to go have some fun.
This was 8 years ago. I worked on my tan. I grew a beard for the first time since a rather unsuccessful college era goatee. And I pulled on my new boots and went to Alaska.
It was a fun trip, fishing with my oldest son. And it was the first of many trips.
I found my traveling boots to be equally comfortable on cobblestones and pasture land. They have carried me to Alaska three times, and have slogged through digging at Vindolanda five times. I have walked about 40% of the way across England in them. They were my daily footwear when I worked as a Carny in the Deep South.
In fact, they were so comfortable that I wore them almost every day, setting them aside only for social occasions when the spousal eyebrow was raised above its usual warning level.
Eight years is a long time for boots, the miles do add up. I have rubbed them with various polishes and oils, and sprayed them lavishly with silicone water repellent. But eventually they just got too worn out.
I took them over the pond for one last dig at Vindolanda. The leather was dull and deeply cracked. The uppers were starting to separate from the soles, and patching with a product called "Shoe Goo" was unsightly.
But I figured that I owed my old friends this one last trip.
And there they will stay. Oh, I suppose they ended up in a landfill somewhere in the UK, but I prefer to just imagine that they are on a permanent voyage.
Here is a picture of them on our last night at the Twice Brewed Inn, Northumbria...