Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"N" is for Nancy

I'm never quite sure what I actually remember from my early childhood as opposed to words and images that disguise themselves as memories, or stories I've been told that then become stories I think I remember on my own.

I know for a fact, though, that I remember Nancy Sinatra. I was 3 or 4 the first time I saw her, and I do recall being mesmerized.

I was in our little ranch house on the outskirts of West Des Moines, and she was on a variety show of some kind -- "Laugh In," maybe?  And she was singing "These Boots are Made for Walkin'".

I was a little, little child, so I hadn't yet formed an idea of what beauty was. But I recall her shiny blond hair, and I recall those boots. Considering that I've spent much of my life wanting to be stylish and blond and succeeding at neither, though, I do wonder what sort of ideal may have been cemented in my psyche that day.

My infatuation with Nancy didn't last; as I grew, I discovered the Osmonds, the Jackson 5, and, of course, Tony DeFranco, and poor Nancy was left at the bottom of the little suitcase in which I carried my 45-rpm records. But she didn't leave me altogether; Kevin and I were watching "The Voice" last night, and one of the singers was wearing high, patent-leather boots, and I found myself saying that I needed some of those.

"What boots?" he asked, confused.

"The Nancy Sinatra ones," I replied.

He wasn't sure what I meant, but it didn't matter.  In my mind, high boots -- go-go boots, if you will -- will always be Nancy Sinatra boots. And once I finish losing weight and my calves are small enough for them, I am going to indulge a 46-year-old fantasy and buy a pair. And I may even wear them in public.

The "Boots" song itself is kind of dumb; I read that it was written as if being sung by a 16-year-old who was giving a 40-year-old man the brush-off. Gross. And it's also filled with words that aren't really words, like "truthin'."

But even to a 4-year-old, it was clearly cool.  And Nancy -- she was coolness personified.  Frank Sinatra's daughter, and a blond Italian to boot!  How often does that really happen to my people? I didn't understand artificial hair color back then, but although she had dark roots, even those looked good.

Nancy is probably in her 70s now, but I imagine she's still cool.  And I'll bet she can still rock a pair of go-go boots.  We'll see if I, too, can pull it off.

Are you ready, boots? 

Start walkin'.

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