Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Your mother wears army boots. And I want a pair.
I recently got back from a press trip to Israel on behalf of ELLE Canada. It was a fascinating, albeit conflicting experience. Israel is a beautiful country with a stunning and diverse landscape, a rich and tortured history, and an awesome mélange of old-meets-new art and architecture. But it kind of wore thin after awhile. Maybe I'm weary of history-heavy holiday destinations — my last two major vacations were in Turkey and Morocco, respectively — or maybe it's the fact that tension hangs as densely in the air in Israel as diesel exhaust and the smell of frying falafel. Ongoing political and religious strife has shaped the way Israelis interact, making legendary prickly pears like New Yorkers, Parisians and Romans seem positively amiable by comparison. I dunno, maybe my next trip should be somewhere a little more bland, like Buffalo.
It also doesn't help to put visitors at ease when uniformed teenagers carrying armed assault rifles walk the streets with the same swagger as our own erratic teens. There's something vaguely unsettling about unsupervised hormonally-charged boys with weapons, no? Despite the menacing atmosphere, however, I couldn't help but admire their overall look. Being a sucker for all things olive-hued (I blame a childhood spent watching M*A*S*H reruns), their uniform looked like the polished TV sitcom equivalent of military gear. Slim-fit shirts with green berets neatly folded under the left epaulet and low-rise pants accented with thick brown leather belts made them look like they stepped off a Dior Homme runway circa 2007. The girls too! But it was their boots that really caught my eye. Resembling a classic eight-hole Doc Marten but with a more streamlined sole and an elegant toe cap, I knew immediately that I had to have a pair. They come in black and an awesome vintage-looking reddish brown with gold rivets. I covet!
As we were leaving the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, where everywhere I turned there was a troop of soldiers studying placards, listening to audio guides and playfully joshing one another, my boot envy got the better of me. Was it disrespectful to be obsessing about footwear in a place dedicated to misery and death? I approached a handsome young solider at the exit and asked point blank where I could buy a pair of boots just like the ones he had on. "For yourself?" he asked. "Yes." He looked at me quizzically and told me of a town on the other side of the country where I would find a store that sold the boots in addition to uniforms and other military paraphernalia. "It will be full of soldiers, so you might be a bit scared," he said. "Ha," I replied. "Try going to the Barneys warehouse sale on a Saturday."
The quip fell on deaf ears, naturally, but he smiled sweetly and gave a shy nod when I thanked him. I wanted to explain to him that boots like his would fetch upwards of €500 in a boutique in Milan, but figured between negotiating his country's history and training for its future he had bigger falafel to fry.