I saw them everywhere while waiting for the Airporter early in the morning, I saw some on the bus. At the airport I began seeing more and more of them. While waiting in line to check in for the flight, the parade of boots was endless. With the obligatory rush to check baggage there were shouts, voices and then the bothersome and routine security check (I can’t imagine everything they had to do to take off those boots) and then off they went to look for the right gate and waiting area.
While I was sitting and waiting—that other unique but useless airport entertainment—they became more and more evident in an endless movement of steps. They came from everywhere: left and right, above and below, restaurants and cafeterias, the souvenir and book stores, and of course seated, waiting like me. I saw them in every type, style, model and size: ankle-length, mid-calf and knee-high. Sometimes they were worn outside the pants or covering part of the leg up to the skirt hem. There were others hidden under pants or longer skirts.
The Italian style has long toes and towering heels, or sumptuous medium heels. There were casual types with cotton or wool tops, and plain and almost military types in 1980’s punk fashion, fastened with a tab above the ankle. Most were in dark colors, blacks, grays or browns, but there were also more striking tones—whites, reds, blues. They were made of fur, leather or imitation leather, even plastic. They were worn with pride, or perhaps cockiness, by individuals and groups.
Is this a result of the chilly weather, or of a secret, collective seduction of people like me? The feminine devotion to boots is beyond my comprehension. One or two, perhaps even five is okay, but not on every corner, in this unending parade. My casual observation revealed that 60 percent of the women, no matter what age—children, teenagers, mature, old—were wearing them while waiting for their flights. Incredible!
Although many of them may have decided to wear them in the name of elegance and keeping warm in the cold weather, I have to be grateful for the unmistakable, seductive coquetry evident in their strong, noisy, almost martial walk that highlighted the curves of their well-formed anatomy, clothed in well-cut pants and skirts that terminated at their booted feet, or seated with crossed legs and one boot pointed at infinity. Ah, the devotees of boots. I guess I am vulnerable to them when exposed to the boring hustle of a long journey.
And here come five others: First, a mature woman whose figure is beset by time, with an ample midsection but faithfully sporting her light, short boots folded outward at the tops; another, younger but of indefinite age, with mid-calf boots over tight pants that make walking difficult; and with them, a teenage girl with an exuberant body, tight clothing and boots rising to the knee with enormous heels that announce to the world her mobile presence; and these, followed by two young girls with little, flat boots in seeming imitation of the adolescent before them.
Now comes an elegant stewardess, hot cup of coffee in hand, clattering along in pointed, knee-high boots and short skirt, accompanied by a nervous male colleague who is aware that we are looking at her, not him. Next, an old woman dressed as a young girl, with high, leopard-skin boots, flanked by her graying husband dressed as a grizzled Italian mafioso with Ray Bans and a beige suit. Then two young women, clearly aware of their attractiveness, speaking in high voices. One wears high and elegant boots over tight jeans, the other an overcoat that barely covers her black tights, which show off her shapely legs and dark leather, high-heeled boots.
Thus my infatuation with the devotees of boots followed me all the way to my arrival at the international airport in Mexico City, a unique place where arriving travelers, the people expecting them and local workers mix with the exclusive, who have always flown—the rich, artists, politicians and celebrities, and their women, carefully dressed in clothes that would be excessive at a cocktail party. And, of course, the boots: marching along as though those long corridors were built especially for them.
Victor Reyes is a Sonoma-based translator, language teacher and writer. The Spanish language version of this column is available at ptreyeslight.com.