these boots are made for … returning.

When I found out I’d be going back to work in an office every day, I looked into my closet and discovered that three years of not working in an office leads to buying clothes that aren’t really office material. So to speak. I have a lot of jeans, a lot of t-shirts. I have clunky shoes and cute little sneakers with red tire treads on the bottom. I do not have a lot of work clothes.

So I went shopping, before I started my job. It being summer in most places in the United States, and summer meaning warm temperatures in excess of 90 degrees, the stores are offering lovely skirts and skimpy shirts and dresses and short pants.

This being summer in San Francisco, where temperatures regularly reach, um, 60 or 65, flowy summer skirts and backless dresses and short pants are not ideal. I spent a couple of Saturdays looking for, say, a pair of pants, and came up short. So to speak.

You might be wondering, when is she going to talk about the boots?

I’m getting to that. Really.

My shopping expeditions came to nothing, and so I rooted around in the dark reaches of my closet, and discovered some skirts, most of which were unfashionably leftover from when I worked in an office before, three years ago. Whatever. I thought, well, I could wear these when it’s chilly, if I just had some boots to wear with them to keep my legs a little warmer. Brilliant!

Obviously, no one is selling knee-high boots right now. Because it’s summer! I went online, and against my better judgment, visited the site of a shoe company that I adore. Against my better judgment because their shoes are expensive.

I should pause here to say that I am not one of those women who is really into shoes. If I need a pair of shoes, I’ll buy them, but I’m not a shoe collector, or a Sex-and-the-City-esque, fawn-over-Manolo-Blahniks type of girl. (In case you didn’t get that from the reference to the sneakers with red tire treads on the bottoms.) I hate heels and until a few years ago had never (never!) owned a pair.

The point being, it is extremely rare, if not completely unheard of, for me to buy an expensive or designer-ish pair of shoes. But this one shoe designer, I am not naming any names …. man, do I love those shoes. They are somewhere between funky … and … you can get away with this at work. So: I found these boots, and they looked … perfect. These boots were cute, they were hot, they were professional enough to wear to work, they embodied everything I was looking for on my shopping trips but could not find.

They were a big splurge, but I ordered them. I figured, hey, I’m getting paid soon, it’s a gift to myself for starting a new job and all of those other stupid rationalizations that women go through when they buy something expensive for no reason whatsoever. Blah, blah, blah.

When I got the phone call the next day, my first day at work, I should have listened.

The guy called, he said, to tell me that the boots “might not fit.”

“What do you mean?” I said.

“Well, a lot of people have trouble getting these boots on, and I wanted to call and warn you. You just have to use your thumb…”

I’m sorry to say, I tuned out at this point. Why would a shoe company call their customer to tell them that their shoes wouldn’t fit? is what I was thinking.

“I just wanted to tell you that if you have trouble, don’t despair, just call us back and we’ll talk you through it,” the shoe guy said.

Do I want to own a pair of boots which will require ‘being talked through it’ in order to put them on every day? is what I was thinking. But I said, “OK, well, thanks for warning me.”

After several days of the UPS rigmarole, i.e. daily post-it notes that describe times the truck will return that no working human would ever be able to accommodate, as well as a nice conversation with a woman in Kentucky who rerouted my precious boots to my office, the boots arrived.

I clutched the box of boots all the way home on the train, then carried them carefully up the hill to my house. After dinner, I peeled back the brown paper wrapping and pulled out The Boots.

Wow. They were as leathery and cute (little buttons on the side!) and hot (but still appropriate for work!) as I imagined. I took them upstairs and put on a skirt. I donned the socks I might wear under a pair of boots. I slid my foot into a boot, very slowly. And then my foot stopped. Before it had reached the ankle of the boot.

Billy came in, then, and saw me half-sitting on the bed, madly wrestling with the boot.

“I can’t get the boots on,” I said.

“Really?” He reached down to feel where my foot was inside the boot. (Yeah, still stuck somewhere around the ankle.) “Huh,” he said. “What did they say to do when they called you?”

“I don’t remember,” I said. “Something about my thumb.”

“You’d need a really long thumb,” Billy said. “Or maybe just a long shoehorn.”


It’s been two days, and I still haven’t been able to get the boots on. And I’m feeling weird about calling the guy back. What if someone else answers the phone? What kind of conversation will we have?

Me: Hello, I ordered some boots from your store, and I can’t get them on.
Store person: Did you order the right size?
Store person, in her head: Moron! What do you mean you can’t put on your own shoes?

And so on.

And I wonder: If it’s so hard to get the boots on, what will it be like to get them off? I picture myself wrestling with my own leg at the gym, rolling off the bench in the locker room after work, while dozens of women whisper about my boots that don’t have zippers.

Yeah, that’s right. I spent all this money on boots, and they don’t have zippers.

And so, it’s likely that I will package my poor boots back up, wrap them in more brown paper and send them back from whence they came. Maybe I’ll call the shoe guy and talk him through it.


8 thoughts on “these boots are made for … returning.

  1. Ohdear! And now sadly, you have joined the legion of women with “unfortunate boot stories.” (Hey, that episode on “Friends” about Monica and her designer boots had to come from someone’s reality).

    Your boot story reminds me of a pair of great designer boots I have, too. I can put them on…I just can’t take them off. I need help, someone on the other side, to yank them off my feet.

    Oh, and one day I fell on my ass while wearing them–apparently, I am not good with shoes that do not allow full ankle flexibility.

    Let us know how you do with the boots! I laud you for being able to find boots in the middle of summer!

  2. I’ve bought a lot of boots in my day but never that came with a personalized call from the store that sold them. Geez, why don’t they just recall the defective boot. They must think women are desperate when it comes to fashion! I’m with you – send the things back!

  3. hooks–bootjacks?! i may have an answer to MY boot dilemma after all! (the aforementioned boots that I have to wait at home (did I mention we have a “no shoes in the house rule” so this causes me GREAT anxiety) for my husband to help me take OFF the boots–well those boots are designer “riding boots”).

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