These Boots Are Made for Dancin’

by | Feb 23, 2024 | Home Life

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Wrinkly Bits

A Blog by Gail Cushman

My move to Montana necessitated that I reexamine my shoe situation. I’m a native Idahoan and sandal advocate, but now I want to blend in with my neighbors, and that means a change in footwear. Columbus has no shoe stores, so I convinced the Cowboy that I needed to go to Billings because I needed new sandals. He likes to shop, too, but while I pined away for new footwear, he searched for a new trim saw. We both spent a couple hundred dollars yesterday, both were happy, but I think I got the better deal, he disagrees, of course, but this was not a one-day event, it was several weeks in the making. Lucky thing that Billings happens to be the Montana shoe mecca.

Day one. We were headed to Alaska to see my son and daughter-in-law and look for musk ox in -25-degree weather, and the Cowboy said I needed boots. He was right because Alaska snow is deep and cold and I’m no Nanook of the North who loves either. We went snow-boot shopping. I have never had real snow boots because if it snowed, I stayed inside. I won’t go through the painful details, but two days and four stores later, I found a pair that I didn’t hate. 

Day two. We were headed out on another trip and my old tennis shoes had a few stains, rips, and holes, so we went to the tennis shoe store. I told the clerk that I wanted something cute with a good arch. How hard is that? 

He said, “Well, Ma’am, I have just the thing for you.” And he brought out white leather oxfords, which were akin to the black leather oxfords, AKA Nancy Drew shoes, that my mother had insisted I wear while I still lived at home. She often told me, “You’ll be glad you wore these because when you are an old lady, you’ll have good feet.” Just what a 16-year-old girl wants to hear.

“Not cute,” I said to the clerk.

He continued, “Well, they are cute, just ask any 16-year-old girl. You will love them, and they are a lot cuter than the old lady shoes you wore today.” 

“I’m not 16 and I don’t think they are cute. These won’t do, could you find me different ones?” In my humble opinion, they were even worse than Nancy Drew’s shoes.

And so it went, one pair after another, and after his sixth or tenth trip to the back room, he said, “We close at 5, Ma’am.” I looked at my watch, “It’s only 2, I have three more hours.”  He rolled his eyes. Suddenly, it was nearly 5, and I bought a pair of tennis shoes. They had arches and the clerk told me they were cute. What do I know?

Day three: We are going on a cruise and the Cowboy likes to dance and when we have danced on cruises, people have applauded. I’m not sure why, maybe because we are the only people dancing or maybe because we didn’t fall down or maybe they are hard up for entertainment. I can’t dance in Nanook boots or tennis shoes, so yesterday, off we went again. I asked the young clerk, “What time do you close?”  

“8 o’clock,” he said. 

We had already finished lunch, but I innocently added, “Good, that should be enough time, but I hope you don’t have a date.” From his expression, he probably thought I was hitting on him.

He twisted his mouth, wondering at this old lady’s comment, “No problem.” Little did he know my shoe-buying history.

I stopped at the sandal display, but the Cowboy pulled me over to a different display that caught his eye, “Lookie here, cowgirl boots. That’s what you need.” Oh, boy. Yes, there were boots, maybe 100 pair, oh so cute, and they were enticing. The Cowboy has boots and so should I, he said, and I didn’t disagree. I have a lot of sandals, cute with arches, but I had never even tried on a pair of cowgirl boots. Cowboy said to the naïve young clerk, “One of these will work, so could you bring these out for her to try?” Cowboy handed him ten right-foot shoes, all cute, with arches, “She likes these.”

I forgot to tell you that I have a high instep, a product of Nancy Drew shoes, I am told. And German legs, somewhat like the Clydesdale horses of Budweiser fame, a product of my mother, good for plowing fields, but not for modeling pantyhose.

The young man found a couple of Costco-sized shopping carts and headed to the storeroom. An hour later, he returned with boxes of boots. We picked out the prettiest one first, cute, with an arch. A good sole, and the Cowboy was cheering me on. I crossed my fingers that one of them would work.

I jammed my foot into the boot, similar to what I had seen Dale Evans do on the Roy Rogers Show and stopped. “It’s a no-go,” I said. “I’m stuck. My instep is too high. The shoe is long enough, wide enough, cute enough, and has a great arch, but I forgot about my instep.” My foot was wedged in, tighter than a camel’s ar*e in a sandstorm. I was feeling like Cinderella’s ugly step-sister. I thought I might not get unstuck until after closing time and the young clerk would miss his date. The Cowboy tugged and pulled and the clerk asked if we needed to get the manager. He was probably thinking that he should call the fire department.

We finally got my foot out, and I gave up on cowgirl boots. I smiled when I saw an appealing pair of sandals, all sparkly and new, waiting for my feet. First try, they fit, I wasn’t stuck. Nothing hurt. I was happy. We’ll be on a ship, no snow, no stones, just a well-shined dance floor. Hurrah!

If you enjoy Gail’s blogs, check out her books. All her books (including her new books) are on She wrote them with a pen name…Helene Mitchell…available in soft back or electronic and on “unlimited” (we think, but let me know if they aren’t!).

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