There is a horrid word advertisers are trying to make us say these days–“shooties”. “Little” or “ankle” boots wouldn’t do? But I suppose they assume that teens and 20-somethings have such a tenuous grip on the English language that you can convince them to say anything, especially if it’s the name of of something to place on one’s body. Because, to utter that peculiar name while pointing at someone else wearing the item is important too. “Oh my God, she wore her ______ to volleyball practice!”
A couple of years ago I stunned my fashion-conscious middle-schooler (she was then at the bossier end of the elementary grades) by showing her the ankle-high cowboy-boot-shoes I wore when living as a single professional in a state far to the south and west of here–in another life, really. “Whose are those?”–I’ve gotten used to this response to the few remnants of pre-motherhood still to be found in my closet. This week I gave my cowboy (cowgirl) ankle boots the final tryout–nope, my feet will never be that size again. A little due to rainstorm shrinkage on the boots themselves–the streets of that arid state really flow deep when a sudden thunderstorm comes–and a lot due to the burdens of childbearing and child-carrying, my feet are permanently bigger and flatter now. There is no hope that I could even walk a few steps in these wishful allusions to (for me) an exotic lifestyle.
When I could wear them, so long ago, I loved them because they gave an edge–and a pointy toe–to my extremely bookish life. The word “shooties” didn’t exist, thank ye gods, and if anyone had called them by that word, I’m sure I would have stopped wearing them that day, after retorting that, yes, they were cowboy boots of a sort but that the steel-capped beak did not, in fact, shoot bullets. Except figurative ones at such awful little compromises. You may be wearing part of a boot that might be warping your foot slightly, and enjoying it, but calling it by a name that tramples over the daily delights of language…makes my toes curl.