Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Boot Scootin' Bungle

Since my last couple posts have been kind of unfocused, I figured I’d break out a story from The Archives.  Actually, I’ll have to tell you two stories and surprisingly, one of them has to do with shoes.

[Watches female eyes light up across the blogosphere…]

It all starts with the boots.

One day back when I was living in Albany, Future-Ex and I were cruising through the mall, just her and I.  This was before we were married, but after we’d bought the house together.  As we passed in front of this exotic boot store, I stopped at the window to look at the snakeskin boots.  I’d always thought they looked really sharp. 

So in passing, I said, “Man, if I ever had a couple hundred bucks to toss down the toilet, I’d get a pair of snakeskin boots.”  We continued on our way and I never mentioned it again.

Cut to my birthday later that year and lo and behold, she got me a pair of snakeskins!  I was overjoyed!  I had no idea she remembered that comment and was thrilled to have such an extravagant wife.
My snakeskin boots. I’m sure they could use a good clean and shine.

The thing I learned about wearing the snakes was that while the tops were soft and pliable, there was nothing to the soles.  Between the steel bar in the arch and the forward edge of the boot heel that cuts into my heel, it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to wear these things for any long stretch of time.  (And this was before the Delayed Pressure Urticaria.  These things kill me now.)

But boy, they looked good.  With the big heels, I looked like I was about 8 feet tall and with every stride you heard that distinctive boot-click, letting everyone around know that a badass was approaching. 

Side note: I wore them to work here in Baltimore one time.  I figured that since I sat down most of the day, I’d be OK.  On the contrary, my feet were throbbing by the time I got home.  But on the way in, as I was walking up out of the subway, I heard someone say, “Love the boots!

I turned around and saw that it was a young black girl, who just so happened to be wearing skin-tight snakeskin pants.  It was probably a stripper, on the way to the day shift at one of the clubs on The Block.

OK, so back to Albany…

We spent the next spring in a whirlwind of wedding planning.  First and foremost, we had to find a place that would marry us.  Both of us were recovering Catholics, but while it was my first time, she’d already been married twice before, so a Catholic Church wedding was out of the question.  That suited me just fine.  I didn’t much care who married us; I knew that the only praying I was going to do on Sundays was going to be on the behalf of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

So we checked around and found a Unitarian church nearby, conveniently located right down the street from where we wanted to have the reception.  The Unitarians take pretty much everyone so I wasn’t too worried about getting turned down.  The minister (or whatever) only asked that we come in one time for a counseling session.  I was fine with that, as I wanted to get a handle on him too.

We managed to act like we were a good match and convinced him to take the gig.  Obviously, one of the reasons churches like this will marry people that are unaffiliated with them is to try to change that fact and get them attending services.  Naturally, he asked Future-Ex, her kid and I to come to the following Sunday’s service and we agreed.  I figured that it would be a good idea to go and make sure they weren’t into anything too weird, you know, like fires or dragons or rolling on the floor and speaking in tongues.  I thought we’d just slip in and sit in the back, observe like flies on the wall and make sure we weren’t making a terrible mistake.  We’d slip in and slip back out, without drawing any undue attention.

I was feeling particularly jaunty that morning so I decided I’d wear my snakeskins to the service.  I mean, why not?  If we were sitting in the back, it’s not like I’d be blocking anyone’s view?  Why not go in stylin’?

I’ll tell you why.  Because things rarely turn out as you plan.  You’d have thought I’d learned that by that point in my life.

As we walked in the back doors, we were greeted immediately by an overly cheerful usher, who after introducing himself to us newcomers, briskly led us straight down past all the shiny, happy Unitarians right to front fucking row.  There I was, clomp-clomping down the aisle like a Clydesdale, 8-feet tall and as awkward looking as a kid holding up the side wall of an 8th grade dance.

Not seeing any graceful way out of it, I just went with it and tried to sit down as low as I could.  Just one more in the crowd, right?

Wrong.  This service, while relatively pleasant, had a lot of call and response throughout the service.  We didn’t know any of it and that really shouldn’t have mattered.  Even when I did know all the responses, like with the Catholic mass, I never actually participated.  I never saw the point of group responses; they’re a little too much like mass-hypnosis for me.

But then they got to this one part; geez it still gives me a nervous stomach to think about it to this day.  There was this song to be sung and unlike how you usually just sit there and move your lips and pretend to sing, everyone had to stand up in circles of 6 or 7, hold hands facing each other and sing together in little groups.

So there we are, way up in front, me with my 8-feet tall snakeskin boots and deer-in-headlights eyes, holding hands with the scripture reader and people in the row behind us.  Everyone is singing except us, because obviously we don’t know enough of the words to even fake it.  I can’t even look at anybody; all I can do is look at the floor and fidget on my feet.

Have you ever had that dream where you’re in front of an audience to give a big speech and you don’t know what to say?  Or are pushed out onto a stage with a guitar in your hand, but you don’t know how to play a single thing?  And you hope that you can just start doing something with the strings and some notes would pour out, but still you just stand there because you don’t even know where to start?  That was me, living out my personal nightmares in front of a bunch of shiny, happy Unitarians, swaying and sweating high up above the congregation in my stack-heeled snakeskin boots.

What I wouldn’t have given for Scotty to beam me the hell out of there in that instant.  I felt like a complete and utter 8-foot dork.  While the minister may have known our plight, nobody else around us did.  We just looked like a nice family of dipshits.  I could not WAIT to get out of Dodge.

I wonder if that was a Unitarian initiation prank.  I bet they only do that to punish the heathens that come to use the Unitarians strictly for marriage services.

They think they can just waltz in here and use our church?  We’ll fix their asses… Here, we’ll sit’em right up front, so we can all laugh.  It’ll be like a bonding exercise.”

Dude, did you see the look on that big one?  I thought he was going to throw up right there in the pew.  Good thing we didn’t go through with part two.

What, where we make them do The Lord’s Special Dance?  Ten bucks says Tallboy would have tripped over the kneeler and busted his lip on the railing.”

And you wonder why I haven’t found religion…

19 comments:

  1. "Gimme that olde tyme Re-LIG-ion..." ah yes, fertility rites and human sacrifice.
    Would have been happier than your experience.
    My friend,Randy with partner, Andrew, attended the Unitarian Church. A lady said to him of his choice, "Oh, Unitarians. They're the ones who don't believe in anything."
    But they will marry anybody.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mary Ann,
    I assumed they believed in Units... both English AND Metric, just to be inclusive.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Now you know exactly how women feel in high heels. Anything for vanity.

    Oh, and I'm a recovering Catholic, too. A bigger contradiction in terms you'll never find.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My my those are some crazy looking boots. You should bring them with you to the south and go line dancing.

    And man that's some hippie church. You would think that if they really wanted you to join, they wouldn't make you feel so awkward. At least no one cares if Catholics hide on the back row and keep to themselves. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jayne,
    That's right; once you're in, you're in for life, scars and all.

    Jessica,
    Dancing in those boots would have me crawling on my hands and knees in 20 minutes.

    And you're absolutely right! That's no way to entice people to come to your church. Maybe they hated us immediately and wanted to make sure that after the wedding, we never set foot in there again. 'Cause that's sure how it worked out.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow. So sorry about the church. They should be more open to fancy shoes.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Most of the churches I've been to have assigned seating for their large contributors. Now...you're tall, but did they actually think you would be a large contributor? Happy to have some of the Roman Catholic Mass back, BTW. I couldn't get the new responses down. Now I will look as though I'd never left!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Having spent some time in Texas, I had a pair of Tony Lama's once. Ostrich skin. Everybody told me that cowboy boots were SOOOO comfortable that I'd wear them all time. Well, maybe we didn't bet them custom fit, but my experience was much like yours. They pinched my feet and hurt.

    And what kind of Scientology-fueled church did you stumble into? I always thought that Unitarian were pretty atheist-friendly. I can't imagine doing that first-timers. Most of my old congregation would've stomped out if I had pulled that kum-ba-yah shit.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Cassie
    They should have been open to people that don’t like to sing in public, up in front of strangers. What did they think it was, American Idol auditions?

    Cher,
    I’ve never seen a church with seating divided up by donors. Sounds a lot like modern society. Yeah, I heard about the changes to the liturgy. Wouldn’t have made a difference to me… One of the things I always hated about Mass was the mindless, rote, repetition. Got zero value out of that. Reeked of indoctrination, to me, regardless of what you’re forced to repeat back.

    Carpetbagger,
    Yeah, like I said, the tops were nice and soft, and they fit my feet, but there was absolutely no padding in the sole and the edges of the heel dug in. Not practical.

    I didn’t really have any beef (that I remember) with their content, just that they forced me into a position for which I was unprepared and wouldn’t like even if I was. If I’m going to be the center of attention, I’d prefer to be doing stand-up, or telling stories, not lip-syncing drudgey songs about The Lord.

    ReplyDelete
  10. C'mon now. You would totally rock AI tryouts. You'd make the show for sure...on the outtakes.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Cassie,
    Unlike most of the people in the first couple week's episodes of AI, I have people in my life that would keep me from making an ass of myself on national television. And I'm one of them.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Bluz! All the hypocrites sit in church pews on Sundays. Come on! I know you don't want to be one of those any more than I do.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Mad,
    Of course I didn't want to be there. I just didn't see a way out of it, and it seemed to be the least we could do since they agreed to marry us. But once we said our "I do's", we never set foot in there again.

    And if I ever should decide I need a place of worship, I'd look for one where I could sit in the back and stay out of the way. I would never attend a place where I had to re-enact scenes from a holy version of Glee.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh man, I cringed for you. I can kinda relate. I was once dragged to a Pentecostal church by a girl I was looking to date. The service was 4 hours long (the first 2 hours singing, the next 2 hours the preacher screaming, I mean literally screaming his message). At the end, they had the slaying of the spirit, you know, where the preacher puts his hand on your head and screams I HEAL YOU IN THE NAME OF JEEEEZUS. They made me do it too. So while everyone else flopped onto the ground and were convulsing like they'd had a seizure, I felt nothing. So I just kind of gave him this awkward glance. And he took me by the hand, and gently just had me lay down on the ground next to these seizing retards, and went on his way. Laying on the cold floor, staring up at the church ceiling, surrounded by people speaking 'in tongues.' This scene is still permanently engraved in my brain.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow, Beer, that sounds insane!

    Dude, I've been to a lot of churches, but I've yet to understand why they think newcomers would LIKE having attention thrust upon them. It just doesn't make sense. Leave me alone, please. I'm trying to judge whether you're my kind of crazy in peace before deciding to join your circus. Kthx.

    ReplyDelete
  16. My dad always wore boots to church. Boots and jeans. I thought it was the very best church look possible. My mom was not a fan and dressed the rest of us in lace-collared floral dresses.

    I thought boots were supposed to be the most comfortable thing possible, though. I thought you were supposed to want to live in them and that you'd cry when you finally wore them out.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Bryan (Beer)
    O…M…G… You win the Church Aversion World Series. That is the most horrifying experience I can think of. And to think, I used to brood and complain whenever our family was “chosen” to bring up the hosts and wine for communion.

    We were a 5-member family and there were 5 things to carry, so we got picked a lot. I hated that, especially because by that time, I was having serious doubts about the whole thing, so going through that charade seemed to me to be the height of hypocrisy.

    But that pales in comparison to being expected to throw yourself on the floor and roll around. Oh, and to endure a 2-hour songfest and 2-hour freakin’ sermon? I’m sorry, but that’s cutting into some serious football time. I don’t care how hot the girl is, I’m out. Or at least there would have to be a quid pro quo. In writing.

    Dude, your story would make a great post for A Beer for the Shower.

    Cristy
    That is exactly my point. You have to build up to the full on frontal assault. I’ve never been the one to jump right into the deepend… I have to wade in, a toe at a time. There will be time for cannonballs once I’m acclimated.

    Mundane
    Was your dad short? Maybe he just wanted to be able to see more than the droopy butts in front of him.

    I’m sure there are boots out there that are comfy, so I’d hate to smear the general bootery based on a single specimen. But mine were just not a good match for my big ol’ dogs.

    ReplyDelete
  18. "We just looked like a nice family of dipshits."

    Welcome to the Powells!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Mrs. Bachelor Girl,
    Well, the jury is still out on Harper. But if she's raised by two dipshits, chances are she's going to exhibit dipshit tendencies.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are like 'crack' to a blogger... Please help me get my 'fix' by leaving a comment! And be sure to check back for my reply. Consider it the Afterparty!