Sam Venable 

Department of Irony

Hiking the High-Priced WildernessI first realized the planets were out of alignment when cell phone pockets became standard issue on bib overalls. This condition worsened when Lincoln, the manufacturer of executive cars, rolled out a pickup truck.

Now my tiny universe of normalcy has come completely unglued.

Gucci, the company that makes outlandishly expensive clothing for the Beautiful People, is offering men’s hiking boots. I’m talking high-topped, lug-soled, leather clodhoppers normally associated with deer camps, country stores and the Appalachian Trail.

Except these high-topped, lug-soled, leather clodhoppers will set you back $795-$995 per pair.

(Of course, that’s only $397.50-$497.50 a whack if you buy them one at a time, which should ease the pain on your billfold—although you will look rather silly hopping through the forest on one foot until the second installment arrives. But that’s your business.)

I was alerted to this haberdashery news via a blurb in The Week magazine. It described these Guccis as “a finely crafted pair of boots meant to be durable enough for the trails and sleek enough for the streets.”

I assume they mean streets in New York City, not Knoxville, Tennessee, or anywhere else in the South. But I’m so out of touch with high fashion, local or otherwise, half the members of our City Council and County Commission could be wearing Gucci hiking boots and I wouldn’t know it.

But the point is, these highfalutin’ folks have no business infringing on the sacred purview of good ol’ boys.

What’s next? Brown Mule chewing tobacco in $175 designer plugs? If so, they’ll probably change the name to Broywne Mullé.

Agreed, I have pedestrian tastes. When I peruse an outdoor catalog—such as the fall Cabela’s tome in my hands—and see top-of-the-line Danner boots advertised for $269.95 per pair (or $134.98 apiece, if you insist on the one-foot plan), I need smelling salts.

Nonetheless, I know whereof I speak in the matters of footwear for field and forest. I own in excess of a dozen pairs. In fact, way back when Imelda Marcos was making headlines for buying hundreds of pairs of shoes when most Filipinos lived in poverty, a friend glanced at my inventory and scolded, “Don’t you ever write a word about her!”

The most I ever paid for boots was $150 for one fancy pair advertised as the thickest-insulated, most-waterproof model on the market. Could be. Soon as I walked out of the carpeted salesroom and laced them up in the woods, they morphed into high-topped bricks with all the comfort of a steel-jawed trap. Currently they are on a shelf in the garage, layered in dust, not mud. I suspect they’ll soon go into a Goodwill drop-off barrel.

Nonetheless, if you want to spend $795-$995 on Gucci hiking boots, be my guest. Surely they’re durable enough to repel any Grey Poupon you might encounter in the wilds of some exclusive, gated residential community.

Sam Venable is an author, comedic entertainer, and humor columnist for the
Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel. His latest book is “The Joke’s on YOU! (All I Did Was Clean Out My Files).”

He may be reached at