Boot, Saddle, to Horse, and Away

All right, buckaroos, I sent off the last files yesterday, so here she is – “Golden West.”

That’s Club Tsock #5, and it’s as anatomically correct a cowboy boot as I know how to make.

Of course, it’s not just ANY cowboy boot. It’s Minnie’s cowboy boot, and it’s inspired by Puccini’s “La Fanciulla del West,” possibly the silliest opera of them all – and that’s saying something, opera being fundamentally a silly business.

See, the opera is based on David Belasco’s play “The Girl of the Golden West,” which isn’t unusually silly as Gold-Rush Westerns go. But slap an Italian libretto on it, and what do you get? Spaghetti, of the spaghettiest possible kind.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the piece like crazy. And the music is beautiful and the scenario moving. But I can’t hear Minnie (whose name inevitably sounds like “Meanie” in Italian) sing “Hallo, boys!” or “Che c’è di nuovo, Jack?” (”What’s new, Jack?”) without cracking up. You gotcher good guy, Meesterr Deeck Joh-nson, da Sacramento (actually the bandito Ramerrez in disguise). You gotcher bad guy, il scerriffo (the sheriff) Jack Rance. Then there’s also one Meesterr Ashby, agente della Compagnia di trasporti Wells Fargo. And there’s a chorus of minatori (miners) and they’re always calling out “Hallo!” to each other and playing una partita di poker.

It’s… silly. And I love it.

(I also have a special feeling for it because my grandfather was present at the dress rehearsal for the momentous world premiere, at the Metropolitan Opera in 1910 – but that’s a story for another time.)

OK, so Meanie falls in love with Meesterr Joh-nson, not knowing that he is a bandito in disguise, right? And then when the scerriffo is after him, he comes to her door, and he’s wounded, and she’s shocked that he lied to her, but of course she still loves him, so she takes pity on him in his weakened state and she hides him in the attic. None too soon, because a moment later along comes the cruel lecherous scerriffo, who incidentally has the hots for Meanie, and she brazens it out and lies like a trouper, and just as she’s got him convinced that he’s on a wild goose chase… two drops of blood fall from the ceiling and land on his hand. So of course all is revealed, and things start looking pretty grim for Meanie and Deeck, who at this point makes a tottering appearance and promptly passes out at Meanie’s feet. She immediately goes all tigress, and desperately challenges the scerriffo to una partita di poker, best two hands out of three. If he wins, she tells him, he can take Deeck… and her, too. But if SHE wins… she gets to keep her virtue and her man.

Like a schmuck, he agrees. They play. She wins a hand. Then he wins a hand. The tension mounts and the music swells as they deal the third hand – then she stages a diversion, and when he’s looking the other way she pulls due assi (two aces) out of her boot, giving her the full house she needs to win.

And that’s just the climax of Act II.

So… the sock is a classic two-tone cowboy boot, with a surprisingly comfortable pointy toe…

… and a high (but not too high) stacked heel:

It’s worked from an i-cord cast-on at the ankle, which serves as a flat-felled seam connecting the lizard-skin upper…

… to the extravagantly-topstitched textured-leather top:

Of course the top of the top is split…

… and piped and curved…

… and of course it features functional bootstraps:

The two aces appear on the tongues, which also provide a little extra ease for the instep. One is a spade –

– the other a heart:

(Obviously this picture was taken before topstitching and assembly.)

The treacherous drops of blood are also represented, one on each boot:

This is, in short, exactly the footwear for saddling up, rescuing your lover from the gallows in the nick of time, and galloping off together into the sunset, singing “Addio, mia California, addio!” in swelling harmony.