When I feel like disappearing up my own ass, I think about the things I care about. I don’t mean family and friends–that’s boring. Saying you care about your family and the people around you is like saying your car is really good because it goes forward. It’s as close to saying nothing as you can get without using silence.
Most of the time, I’m not surprised by the little things I care about. People often think it’s odd that the words “I don’t like those black bars on my tv” will make me show up behind you Candyman-style, but it’s very important to me that movies and tv be presented in their original intended aspect ratio at the highest possible resolution and with accurate color timing. If you’ll just allow me a moment to tell you the good news, I’d love to show you what the light of properly framed programming can do for you. Wait, where are you going?
This soapbox has put me on a strange journey through life, one that has brought me full circle from not allowing the 4:3 Pan and Scan version of Ghostbusters to be shown in my house (“I don’t care if you just stumbled across it while your were flipping through the channels, if you keep that on, I’m calling Child Protective Services”) to loudly and pointlessly live tweeting my disgust over cropped Simpsons episodes.
On a side note, this is how I know it’s bullshit when people say “wow, this really puts things into perspective.” I never care more about aspect ratios than when I am sick. Because if all life has to offer is just shitty, cropped versions of movies with bad transfers and inaccurate colors, then what the fuck is the point? How do we expect to fix any of the problems of the world if we can’t even show classic episodes of The Simpsons in their proper, uncropped format? People are never going to believe that vaccines actually work if we can’t even convince them that the black bars on their tv are a good thing.
So while “why doesn’t it fill the whole screen” are the words that Shazam me from Billy Batson to Captain Letterbox, I’m never surprised by the transformation. It’s encoded in my DNA, one of the few strings that I’m not ashamed of. However, much like science is learning more about our genetic code on a macro level, I’m learning more about the micro level of mine. And it turns out that my DNA cares a lot about boots.
I didn’t learn this until my boots died. Now, these weren’t just any boots, these were a pair of Red Wing 4473 boots that I’ve had since 2003. If I had pants on, I wore those boots. They’ve seen a lot of use, though as time wore on my long, mucus saturated lungs made it difficult for me to lean down and put them on. If anything, this meant that I wore them more, because the act of taking them off or putting them on left me winded and a little woozy. This is no fault of the boot; CF just fucked me again.
So it was with deep sorrow that I observed the giant hole that had formed near the back of my left boot. The right one had a hole too, but that one was repairable. The left boot was a complete blowout. Maybe CF really did put things into perspective. Maybe without it, I would have never realized how much I love those boots.
My fiancée suggest that I try a pull-on boot, but they don’t feel right and they don’t look cool. One or the other is fine, but not both. That’s when I got the first wave of nausea: the thought of wearing another boot made me physically ill (well, it was either that or all the mucus I swallowed in my sleep, but for the sake of this piece, let’s say it was the boots).
This was troubling to me, because they are not cheap. I pride myself on my ability to find contentment with a $1 box of pizza rolls, so to have a preference in footwear was a crisis of identity.
I rationalized it by thinking how much money I saved by buying those boots back in 2003.It was a big initial investment, but I didn’t need boots for just under 12 years. Bekka had joked that “those boots are older than my son” but there was no mirth in my eyes when I told her they were older than her son by a half decade. I loved those boots as much as I can love an inanimate object that I shove my feet into and walk on.
But, as always, Bekka was right: I’m too old (in CF years) to be putting those boots on anymore. That’s when the internet smiled down on me and showed me the closest thing I’ve ever had to a beatific vision: there exists a zipper kit for the 4473. Take the laces out, install the zipper, install my foot and zip. It’s the answer to every one of my problems. Which means it was never meant to be.
Such is my dedication to the Red Wing boot, that I was willing to purchase them even though there’s not a reputable way to buy them online. And even though it’s fucking cold out, I braved the elements and traveled to a Red Wing Store to procure the boots. When they didn’t have them, I went to another one. Then one more. Each store offered to order them, but the act of hearing someone say “they are $220 plus tax”, then physically presenting my debit card and waiting 7-10 business days to receive my boots would have crushed me with buyer’s remorse. I can have the money or I can have the boots, but without either, I’ll look longingly out of second story windows and wonder what happens if I jump.
So I brought Bekka to the shoe store to tell me what to do.
In the end, I bought a pair of Red Wing 2223 boots. There’s no zipper kit, but they do have speed laces and once I break them in, I’m sure I can get my foot into them while standing up. There’s a little padding too, so they’re slightly warmer and there’s a helpful little tab on the back so I can pull them on. I might need to start wearing taller socks though, because I think the padding makes my ankle itch. I don’t know yet. Ask me in 12 years.