The World Ain’t Right Without Cowboy Boots

Miller was wearing cowboy boots the day his favorite uncle, Uncle Dexter, burst into Easter dinner with a large blonde woman on his arm and a bottle of Canadian whiskey in his hand. The Pall Mall cigarette Uncle Dexter always had smoldering in the right corner of his mouth had been replaced by a plastic-tipped cigar that smelled like the landfill on burn day. Because Miller was almost thirteen years old, the blonde clamped to Uncle Dexter’s torso struck him as the most repulsive, most titillating person he’d ever seen. He would think about her for the next several years.

When Uncle Dexter crashed through the door on Easter Sunday 1975, Miller’s jaw hit the floor. All he could do was stare at the caricature of Uncle Dexter before him and the massive amount of flesh on display beneath the darkly-rooted blonde hair of the woman his uncle would introduce to the family as “the ol’ ball and chain.” To his nephew, Dexter regained enough decorum to introduce her as “your new Aunt Cherri” before handing Miller the cigar from his mouth in order to mash his face into hers. Miller looked down at his cowboy boots, then at the cigar capped with heavy ash. Holding it made him feel like a man. A man like Uncle Dexter.

Cheap cigars and cowboy boots stuck with Miller for a long time. He would wear boots the entire time Cherri would seduce him three years later. Her hair would stink like cigars.