Once upon a time new novels were published in serial format. Writers such as George Eliot, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens built a huge reader following through monthly instalments of entertaining and suspenseful stories. Today, exclusive to Caveat Calcei 27 year old marketer, Yummy Mummy, Editor & Expert Kristen Obaid releases the first of four (and possibly more subject to public demand) instalments of a life dedicated to the wearing of boots. If you like what you are reading, please leave a comment …
When I was 6 months old I had a run in with a garden hose, and scored my first ever ambulance trip to hospital, siren and all! My lungs were never quite right after that. Getting tired of my constant pneumonia and chest infections, my parents moved us from the cold wet Limestone Coast of South Australia, up to the hot and dusty Murray Region “wheat belt”.
Leaving my adored great-grandparents (and their swearing budgie), leaving my Big Hair Nanna (and her farm horses), leaving my aunties, uncles and favourite cousin – this was already devastating enough for me.
But for some inexplicable reason, my imaginary friend Lizard refused to make the journey too.
If my attention-hogging pesky newborn baby brother deigned to travel all the way to Murray Bridge with us, why on earth couldn’t Lizard come? I pondered this for many years. I was never the same after my imaginary friend left me.
So at the tender age of four, feeling abandoned and out of control, I displayed the first signs of my personality-to-come. I chose an all purpose uniform for myself – and I wore it every single day without fail, from that age onwards:
Gum boots and bathers*.
You tell me what a country girl can’t do while wearing this ensemble? I already know the answer to this question = absolutely nothing. Because trust me, I did it all.
Scaling 100ft sandstone cliffs, holding on with one hand and digging out fossils with the other, building tree houses, lying in caves and dried up waterfalls reading books, riding bommy swings^, climbing extinct volcanos, carving bows and arrows, crawling through blackberry briars, clearing land of mulga & mallee stumps, driving trucks, racing snails, chasing King Brown snakes, milking cows, playing chasey in wheat fields higher than my head, herding sheep, digging bush toilets, setting up campsites, selling my unwanted toys to my little brother, feeding our food supplies to goanna’s, riding bikes, starting fires, shooting stray cats with slingshots, making hideouts in hay bale sheds, catching yabbies, growing frogs, faking the existence of dinosaurs in the local clay flats and publicly announcing my discoveries in a printed newsletter, walking over reefs, swimming in creeks, snorkelling in the ocean (okay, these two items were performed sans-boots… but my boots were never out of reach.)
My outfit was a one-piece in my mind. In fact it wasn’t even clothing; it was just an extension of me.
My first set of boots & bathers was fuchsia pink, my favourite set of all time was rainbow coloured, and my last set (before the angst and rigorously self imposed modesty of puberty set in) was royal blue.
Instead of saying “when I was 8 years old”, I’ll often refer to the “aqua coloured” boots & bathers era.
One day, not long after we made the big move to Murray Bridge (and while the fuchsia boots & bathers set was still costume du jour), my parents propped me up in between them on the HJ Kingswood bench seat for a deep and meaningful chat. They told me all about eggs and sperm and the correct names we should call our body parts, and who is or isn’t allowed to touch which particular bits.
Then, as the sun was setting over the Murray River, they told me that the sperm that made me came from a different man… not from my Dad. I remember that day very clearly, as I was scared the “Sperm Donor” would come take me away, but Mum and Dad assured me that he lived all the way up in Queensland. And they said the Sperm Donor wasn’t the father-type anyway.
For many years, because of my costume, my real Dad called me Miss Boots. I loved having a Dad who not only put in the effort to be a Dad to me and spend time with me and teach me things… but who also cared enough about me to make up my first (and only) nickname.
Me, my boots and my bathers had a wonderful childhood.
But then in 1994, around the same time that I ceased making public appearances in my bathers, my 11-year-old-but-suddenly-5ft-7-body also happened to acquire itself some size 7.5 gumby feet.
Lolling listlessly around the shoe section of Woollies for days, I came to the realisation that the limited available colour selection of adult gum boots (black with yellow sole) just wasn’t going to do it for me.
Miss Boots was depressed for months… until she finally discovered (and thereafter coveted) her next pair of boots – Doc Martens.
To be continued….