"Your mother wears Army boot."
Those words never bothered me as a child. I probably saw more humor in the comment than those who used it because I knew it was true. The boots themselves weren't funny, it was the sound they made as she goose stepped her willowy body around the library where she worked that played in my head like the second feature at an all-night drive-in.
Army boots defined dear old Mom. With the precision of a drill sergeant, she had my brothers and I prancing around like a pack of promenading poodles. If one of us were to muddle along, she would say things like, "a terrapin could move faster", or if she was really pissed, "drop everything and give me ten... books". It seemed that she always found something to snark about.
Living up to her expectations was tough. Not living up to them was tougher. She took pride in her disciplinary teaching style, and found many ways to help us understand what was expected. We called it bending to the will of the wisp. I remember once instance, although I don't recall the incident that provoked her wrath, when she told me I was "like a bunion on her ass". Being the well-read, intelligent kid I was, I calmly and arrogantly explained that bunions afflicted the big toe, not the derriere. She and her Army boot proved me both right and wrong.
Growing up under the heel, and in front of the toe, of an Army boot will cause you to either develop calluses or a sense of humor. I felt it had developed my razor-like wit. Mother did not agree. She often told me I was no Oscar Wilde or Bat Segundo. I often wondered if Segundo played for the Yankees or the Red Sox but was afraid to ask. Anyway, she was wrong about me being funny. There are thousands of rodeo fans that will back me up. There is nothing like the life of a rodeo clown ... the roar of greasepaint, the smell of the crowd. There is nothing like it.
It's a shame that mother never experienced my fame, not that she would have gone anywhere near a rodeo. But she could have read about it. Like a Bunion On My Ass: The Story of a Rodeo Clown is sitting at number seven and it got a mention on galleycat. She would have finally been proud of me.
I'm the one who wears the boots now, even if they are rubber. I will always remember those old, leather Army boots of my mother's; the way they sounded, the way they stung, and the way they swung from the end of an old rope the day she retired.
yeeehaw! Miss Snark looks for her cowgirl hat!
Scoring to come.