Written by Sanford Begley
I was putting on my boots and a chain of related thoughts passed through my mind. You see, the boot in question is a tan, military style, boot. Now there was a time when i was a young man in the army when the talk was about how much tougher the old “brown boot” army was. I don’t know but I’d be willing to bet there is a contingent in the military talking about how much tougher things were back in the old “Black Boot” days. We all have a tendency to think we are tougher and had it rougher back then than people do now.
I don’t necessarily think that is so with the army today. While today we hear stories of stress cards and other things that have us old timers scratching and shaking our heads, we weren’t getting shot at much. It did happen, but if you hear about the combat experiences of someone who served between the end of the VietNam war and Desert storm, take it with a grain of salt. Especially if they do not have Eighty-Second airborne or other special unit records. Yes there were probably clerk typists from a rear echelon unit that wound up someplace where there was active shooting going on. They were damned few and far between.
This doesn’t make us old farts wimps and the young guys macho men though. People are people, some of the old guys were as tough as they advertise, some of the kids are wimps. Ahh, kids, a word I shouldn’t use. Nonetheless it is honestly the way I see many of them. Hell’s Bells, I work on a university campus and think some of the kids I see should be in junior high. It is a failing of us when we start having adult children and grandchildren. We see them as younger than they are. OK sometimes we see them as older. I see the kids leaving the local junior high and wonder where the girls that looked like that were when I was a kid. Well, the way you dress affects the way you look.
This brings me back to those boots I mentioned. You see, what we wear says something about us, our clothing choices make a statement, not always the one we mean. To me the boots are a comfortable choice and good for the hiking my wife likes to drag me on. I was wearing loafers most of the time, then she started dragging me up mountains.Loafers are great indoors or on pavement, not so much on a muddy trail.
About five years ago Michael Z. Williamson was the military technical advisor on a television shoot for the discovery channel. He was also the set armorer and provided the uniforms and other things. He put out a casting call for former military so that he could get people who knew how to appear military and were familiar with weapons. I thought it would be great to be able to tell the grandkids I had acted in a Hollywood show so i took him up on the offer. He wound up loaning me a set of the new style combat boots for the shoot. They were nothing like the combats boots of my day. Ugly as sin but comfortable as a warm bed. I damned near bought a set, the price discouraged me.
Back to my wife dragging me up a mountain in loafers. I decided I needed a good set of boots, so I looked online and found a pair of tac boots similar to the ones I had borrowed. They were a lot cheaper though. I got them for hiking and liked the ankle support and general comfort so much that I took to wearing them full time. This was a shock to me because when I got out of the service over thirty years ago I never expected to wear combat boots again. So I wear them for practical reasons, thing is, they make a statement, I’m just not sure what. I’m sure that to some people they say “rugged guy” to others they say “Mall Ninja”. I know that “Mall Ninja” is a more likely choice for me to think when people start wearing too much military gear. If you work in an office or flipping burgers and wear Tac Pants, and Combat Boots and a desert scarf you look like a wannabe.
Similar things can be said for other clothing choices. If you are sixtyish and wearing “hip” clothes from whatever is popular with the kids you wind up looking like someone desperate not to grow old. If you are lucky. If you aren’t lucky you come off as an old creeper trying to pick up kids your grandchild’s age. If you wear chaps and a Stetson and a shield shirt for everyday wear in the east you look like someone trying to look like a grown up with no clue how.
What it all boils down to is that what you wear is one of the first statements you make to people you meet. Think about that when you select your wardrobe. Do you really want to be thought of as something you aren’t? Then again, I find these combat boots comfortable and I am successfully married with a life and friends that know me well. I don’t care if some stranger thinks I’m a Mall ninja.