The Sane One and I have a Labor Day tradition of going on a road trip where we get to just drive a long distance and spend time in the car kind of reconnecting to the aspects that make us such a good team. So lots of inside jokes, discussions about silly things, holding hands, and prodigious use of the Sane One's imaginary hand brake when she gets nervous that I'm driving too closely to the car in front of me (which is pretty much all the time). We didn't get to do that this year, but we did manage to take a jaunt down to San Antonio this past weekend which is about a solid six hours in the car. I'm not going to bore you with all the cool discussions that we had, but the highlights were that we successfully recast the classic NBC sitcom "Wings" with a new modern cast, we learned that I don't know shit about 2000's and beyond hip hop music, discovered the Billy Joel Sirius Satellite Radio music station, and decided that Lionel Richie's "Stuck On You" would make a really good country music song. I honestly wished we were driving to Buenos Aires, Argentina, as I could have stayed in the car for so much longer just talking about the dumbest things and seeing my wife giggle in the passenger seat.
A couple of days later, I inadvertently acquired a pair of cowboy boots. 3 years, 5 months, 26 days, and 17 hours ago I moved to Texas. Clearly you can tell how much I have enjoyed the Lone Star state. When the Sane One arrived a couple of months later, I told her that she had to get a pair of cowboy boots because that was the law here in Texas. She asked me why I don't have cowboy boots. I told her that there was an exclusionary clause in the law that exempted confused Koreans from ever wearing cowboy boots. I don't know if she bought it, but when we went to Cavender's, she wasn't too irritated when we walked out with only one pair of cowboy boots for her. The weird thing is that she really didn't want to get them. But as time has gone one, she has really come to enjoy wearing them and they feature prominently in her foot covering selection on a weekly basis. She has reminded me over the years that I still had to comply with the law, and I gently remind her that I am not the demographic that really looks good wearing cowboy boots. For those of you who don't know, my preference of shoes ranges closer to the more conservative offerings that Cole Haan has to offer. I think I told her that when Cole Haan makes a cowboy boot, that is when I will wear one.
Well, as of Sunday 7 October, 2018, I am fully compliant with Texas law and I have a pair of cowboy boots. The Sane One really wants me to describe the fitting process at the western wear store we were at trying to find a dress for the big fundraiser that her organization, Therapet, is having this upcoming weekend. The theme is Western, so we were trying to find something that was western-y enough to fulfill the needs of the event but still versatile enough that she would want to wear again for other non-western activities. We walked out of the store having failed that mission yet somehow I got my boots. The reason why the fitting process should be discussed is because I was wearing shorts, a polo shirt, and flip flops. Not exactly conducive apparel for boot shopping. I think the sales staff was a little amused, and I swear to fucking God if I see a YouTube video of me trying on the boots, I'm calling Michael Avenatti up and suing the shit out of that place. There are some sights that should never be seen again. Chunky Koreans wearing shorts and cowboy boots is definitely top of that list.
Later that day, on the drive home, we found a country version of "Stuck on You"! It was a duet with Darius Rucker on Lionel's album "Tuskegee." All of the songs are duets of Lionel and other country artists. It's actually a pretty good album. But there it was, the song with steel guitar and all the country elements that we wanted to hear regarding this song. It's probably my favourite Lionel Richie song, and the fact that she not only found someone who agreed with us, but made AN ENTIRE ALBUM OF COUNTRY VERSION OF LIONEL RICHIE SONGS was definitely hella quacktastic. She said that it was almost exactly as she had imagined it to be. I think it was a pretty cool version. We also found a pretty cool version by 3T (children of Tito Jackson) as well. But given the choice of the country version or spawn of Tito version, country version wins hands down.
Why am I talking about Koreans wearing cowboy boots and country versions of "Stuck on You"? I'll tell you why. It's because I've lived far too long with constrictive concepts and values of who I should be. I have been too concerned about how society would look at me. I have constructed a very cautious and conservative image that is purposefully designed to attract as little attention as possible and reduce the probability of being laughed at or made fun of. I guess if I had to really be honest, my biggest fear in life is being laughed at. I am very discerning about my visual appearance and avoid like the plague anything that could be viewed as anachronistic. (Anachronistic, millennials, means things that don't fit or belong together.) The incredible things about this weekend is that, no, I don't look like a complete asshat wearing cowboy boots. And country version of "Stuck on You" kicks ass. Combinations that don't necessarily make sense can't be proven until actually tried. The fear that I had of not pushing certain boundaries has been completely self imposed. I always admired people who pushed boundaries and tried new things. I always thought to myself, "That would be cool if I had the balls to do something like that." But like the chickenshit that I am, I just vicariously experienced that through the actions of others.
Sometimes it feels like I'm a puppy that has been kicked every time it tried to step outside the dog house. So the lesson is, don't go outside. Stay inside where it is safe. I've played it safe with so many things in my life because I just wanted to not get kicked again. But really, I survived all of the ostracism, the cruel comments, the snickers and laughter. Am I so weak that I can't handle it again? If I don't step outside my comfort zone, then the answer to that question is a resounding "absolutely." That answer is simply not acceptable. I advocate having an open mind yet I am so closed when it comes to my own activities? I don't think so! Now look, I'm not getting gold teeth tomorrow or trade in my All Blacks jerseys for western shirts and string ties. But the decision I have come to is sometimes things that don't make sense actually work. And we just won't know until we give it a shot. If I end up looking dumb, at least I'll have amused a store's sales staff for the day, and how bad can that really be?