Friday, March 9, 2012

DP Tells All Part 4

Hello, Readers.  Welcome to the first Off Season post of 2012.  It’s hard to believe it’s March already.  After celebrating Texas Independence Day (March 2) last week and traveling (again) for work this month is already flying quickly away.  Thanks to all of you for sticking with me through the late posts and somewhat shoddy craftsmanship of my analysis this season.  With the transition to the new job and schedule, it’s been difficult to keep up my usual Tuesday timing.  I really appreciate the emails and messages supporting me.  It’s difficult to strike a balance in my life lately and your positive reinforcement helps. 

Speaking of reinforcement, an idea donned on me for a new post in the off season. I’ve been meandering through my emails and comments searching for the comparatively few but incredibly vitriolic hate mails that I get from time to time.  I’m going to gather the best of the worst and respond to them for all to see.  That should be fun. 

In the interim, it’s time for DP Tells All again.  Thank you for your questions this week.  As always, I’ve taken all of the similarly themed questions and boiled them down into the questions below with careful attention to trying to answer all of what I was asked.  If you don’t see your specific question, please keep reading as I probably lumped it in with one of the ones below.  Also, if you don’t get your question answered, feel free to email me and I’ll send you a personalized answer so you can print it and put it on your refrigerator in the name of daily inspiration---or simply delete it.  That’s up to you.  Let’s get to it.    

Disclaimer:  It’s always my contention that DP Tells All is the least funny post of the season.  If you’re reading this blog for the first time and don’t “get me” yet, you might want to peruse some of the other off season stuff.  I’m simply answering reader questions here.  If I happen to entertain, that’s great.  Now, let’s really get to it. 

I’m from the Chicago and I really want to buy a pair of cowboy boots.  What should I look for when buying a pair and how much should I spend? 

A Midwesterner in “cowboy boots;” I love it.  I’ll answer as best I can.  “Cowboy boots” are referred to simply as “boots” here in Austin and they are a treasured part of any person’s wardrobe in Texas.  I have six pairs ranging from a work type boot to a roper to handmade custom boots and I wear a pair every day.  

For purposes of this question, I’ll assume that since this is your first pair of boots you’re looking for something you can generally wear with jeans that is practical, comfortable, and affordable.  I’ll assume you’re not going to saddle up and drive the herd to Montana.  Finally, I’ll assume you’ll want something Midwest appropriate.  In other words, you don’t want something too flashy and decorative that might work here in Texas but would literally make you look like a clown in a Rush Street tavern. 

Like running shoes, boots were initially designed to serve a specific function: namely, cowboy-type work.  Most of the design features on boots actually are functional elements that have remained with the boots over time.  For instance, the distinctive stitching on the upper part, or shaft, of the boot is decorative; however, it also serves to keep the leather from sagging like a used up bachelorette after Fantasy Week. 

Generally, the more fancy and multicolored the stitching is the higher quality the boot.  That’s not always true, but for the most part, it is.  The shaft of the boot is usually covered by jeans but is often the most decorative part of the boot even though it’s not seen.  However, it’s not uncommon these days to see women sport a miniskirt or shorts with a pair of boots here in town (I love that look, by the way) and the shaft of the boot is what makes them unique.  Because of this there are many options available in all price ranges and styles.    

The hard “cup” on the front of the boot extends to flex point in the boot and reinforces the shape and curve of the front of the boot.  There are pointy boots, rounded boots, and just about every variation in between.  Finding what looks best and what makes you most comfortable is a very subjective thing.  I prefer a capped toe, for instance, but have pointed and square toed boots too.    

Many of the other elements of the boot remain from when their owners spent a good deal of time riding a horse. For example, the pointed toe common on a lot of boots was designed so the cowboy could easily insert (and remove) his toe into the stirrups.  Likewise, the high heel keeps the foot from slipping all the way through the stirrup and allows the boot to grip the stirrup when the heel is pushed downward while riding.

For your purposes, you’ll want a simple, monochromatic leather boot with a traditional toe and heel.  There’s no need to overdo it.  A “roper” boot is also an option, but that type of boot is more common outside of the “Western” confines of Chicago.  That’s a boot with a much shorter shaft, a more rounded toe, and a shorter, wider heel.  These were initially designed and worn for cowboys who roped more often (thus, the name) and needed to jump of their horses and run to whatever animal happened to be at the end of the rope.  It’s tough to run in a higher heel.  The boot survived and is often the model for work oriented boots as opposed to the fashion statement you want to make. 

Look for quality leather.  I’d suggest cowhide or an equally tough leather as opposed to something softer and easily worn.  Exotic boots can be expensive and are not meant to be worn and beat up daily.  If you stick to boots in the $250-$350 price range, that should take care of itself.  It’s easier to find and kill a cow than it is an elephant or a ostrich and the price will reflect that.     

Do not buy cheap boots with vinyl or composite soles.  Get a pair with leather soles.  Plastic soles and heels are a sure sign of cheap boots.  They’ll be uncomfortable and will not last long.  Even if you’re only going to wear them a few times a year, stay away from the low end stuff.   Justin and Nocona are good generic brands and they’re made to fit generic feet.  Ariat boots are literally as comfortable as a pair of slippers but are more work boot oriented.  They’re made in China too.  Work oriented boots like these have rubber soles and are lined more like a sneaker than a boot.  They’re good if you wear boots every day or if you plan on being on your feet all day when you do wear them.  Again, there’s a difference between these rubber soles and the plastic type rubber on a cheap pair of boots.    

Next, keep in mind that boots are sized by both foot size and width so don’t assume your shoe size is also your boot size.  Start there and be prepared to try on a half size in either direction once you get a width that feels good.  Also, your size in one style of boots is almost never your size in another style.  Try them on with thick socks and walk around in them.  However, remember to scuff the sole a tad before trying to walk.  Like any leather bottom shoe, they’ll slip a bit at first, especially on carpet.   

Off the shelf, generic boots are machine made and will need to be broken in a bit.  They should fit snugly, but not tightly, across the top of your foot and you should be able to spread your toes out while standing.  Your heel should be gently cupped in place but it shouldn’t be tightly held.  Once the leather stretches your boots will literally conform to your own foot and will feel like a sock.  This process takes much longer with the generic boots than it does with handmade or custom boots.  Buy what’s known as a “boot jack” for taking them off.  You’ll be glad you did.    

Higher end boots can be tricky because they are hand made.  Find the right size and they are instantly comfortable.  Find the wrong one and they’ll never be right.  Lucchese (Loo-kay-see) is a good high end brand and their 1883 line is a good boot at a low price point of the beginning of the high end.  They run about $400 and can go up in the thousands of dollars depending on the type of leather and craftsmanship.  My most expensive pair ran about $1,800 and is made of Cayman crocodile back leather, but I’ve had them for over 15 years and they’re not everyday boots.  Again, for your purposes, I’d start simple.  If you get hooked, buy your way up the ladder but don’t go nuts.   

A fancy higher end handmade boot that is popular here in Austin is made by Old Gringo.  They have a penchant for ornate, well weathered boots and putting a pair on for the first time is like putting them on after they’ve been broken in for years.  I’d recommend a pair down the road if you enjoy your first pair enough to invest in something a bit more ornate, but Old Gringos are fun to browse if you’ve never seen the selection.  

Next,---and this is EXTREMELY important if you want to be taken seriously in your new boots—you also need to buy jeans that look good with the boots.  Cinch is a good brand but they probably don’t have that in Chicago.  Levis are fine too.  Just make sure the type you buy are boot cut and buy them with an inseam at least two and as much as four inches longer than your normal inseam.  This will feel and look funny to you as a new boot wearer but trust me.  Any Texan can spot a tourist a mile away if his jeans don’t lie on his boots the right way. We call that “the stack” or “the break” on the boots down here. A good measure of that stack is to put your foot up on a short stool or step (think Captain Morgan) while standing.  If they are long enough, the front of the jean will stay on top of the boot with the break in place and the rear of the jean should rise only slightly, if at all. 

Finally, get a simple belt that matches the boot leather and has a western stitch on it.  Giant belt buckles are for bull riders who’ve earned them and for people from Dallas.  Stick to something simple.  One of my prize possessions is a handmade Texas Ranger belt buckle.  It was given to me by my former boss for Christmas one year.  Stick to small and simple and don’t pair your boots with a braided or canvas belt that Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air would have worn.  That’s for German tourists.   

I hope that helps.  Incidentally, since you’re in Chicago, try Alcala’s on Chicago Avenue for boots.  Some of the clothes in there are over the top but their boot selection is the best you’re going to find in town and the staff there is knowledgeable enough to direct you to a pair that’s right for you.  Good luck.  Let me know how you turn out. 


My suspicion is that the person who sent this question is either contemplating the big move in or recently proposed it and got a bad result.  Here’s my take on this issue. 

First, I don’t think this is a “male perspective” issue.  We all have our own opinions about living together before marriage or just living together in general.  As we say in my business, the answer to the “Should I live with my significant other” question is fact determinative.  Here’s where I think problems arise in the male vs. female interpretation of the facts. 

I think (actually, I know) I speak for most men when I say that I never cease to be absolutely dumbfounded when I answer a question from a woman as clearly, simply, and honestly as I can answer it and she hears something completely different. 

If you’ll recall my “Worst Date Ever” post, you can find a good example of this.  I specifically and unequivocally told that female that I was not attracted to her, was attracted to her friend, and wanted to simply stay friends.  Her response was, “I think you’re misunderstanding your feelings.”  You get the point.  I’m certain all of you have a version of this anecdote. 

I think that when a woman gets a “yes” to the move in question she is apt to see that as the natural and logical progression of the relationship toward marriage, which is often the ultimate goal for a woman.  Moving in together is a big sign of commitment.  It also gives a woman the opportunity to discard the coffee table her man built in wood shop in high school and the liquor mirrors he stole in college.  The Dogs Playing Poker paintings shall be relegated to one wall in the back office/junk room, which is her definition of compromise.  To be fair, absent the specific type of communication referenced above, I think that it is a valid assumption by the woman that moving in equals progression to a larger, permanent commitment.

Men, on the other hand, are likely to see the move in as a step toward DELAYING marriage.  In other words, as a substitute for marriage.  Men see it as a solution to making the ultimate commitment rather than as a step toward it.  Allowing a woman to nest and giving up personal living space are things men see as signs of serious commitments.  These are in no way related to a man’s desire to marry his partner. 

If both parties do not have this discussion prior to the move in, it is likely to take months—even years—before this little issue creeps into the room.  At that point, couches have been jointly purchased, contracts have been jointly signed, pets have been jointly walked, families have been over for Thanksgiving dinner, etc.  In short, big problems arise. 

My advice?  Never ever move in with a person unless there is a wedding date or there are specific plans to get engaged and a finite time for BOTH events to occur.  Never ever assume that moving in will solve any existing relationship issue and never ever move in together without having a discussion about each person’s expectations and future plans.  Never ever move in together to “try it out.”  And, most importantly, never ever ever purchase anything together (furniture, house, condo, pets, plants, knick knacks, or a garden hose) without being legally married. 

Ignore that advice at your own risk.  My objection to living together prior to at least being engaged is not moral, it’s practical. 

What is one of your quirkiest pet peeves? 

I love this question.  Thanks to the person who had the insight to send it.     

My quirkiest pet peeve?  Absolutely under no circumstances will I set foot in a restaurant shaped like a boat.  I’m not talking about a restaurant that’s an actual boat that’s parked on a body of water and secured to a dock.  I’m not talking about the floating river boat casinos docked on the shores of the Mississippi River.  I’m not even referring to nautically themed restaurants, although I avoid those too.  I’m referring to a building on dry land shaped like a boat complete with a mast, round windows, cargo nets, barrels, and any other accoutrement intended to mimic a high seas dining experience.

I can’t think of anything in the restaurant world that would be a bigger F.U. to a customer than pretending that anyone dining there will actually feel like he’s in a boat.  It’s the stupidest thing I can think of.  I would rather take flying lessons from Jake Pavelka or go horseback riding with Ben Flanjik than enter a boat shaped restaurant.  Top that off with the fact that they’re all named “Cap’n Something’s Seafood House” or “Admiral So and So’s Whatever” and the entire thing makes me feel like I’ve eaten tainted oysters. 

Real Admirals and Cap’ns are in charge of aircraft carriers and cruise ships, they don’t wipe down laminated menus with dirty cloths and comp baskets of deep fried shrimp when a foreign object falls into the batter and ends up in someone’s “Fisherman’s Feast.”    

Who are they fooling?  You’re on dry land in the middle of an urban area.  I can see parked cars in the lot from the “portholes” in the “hull.”  Give me a freaking break.  You want to serve me fish?  Fine, just accept the fact that your restaurant is miles from an open body of water and do it in a normal building.  If I want a rib eye does that mean I have to jump in a zodiac and take a short ride offshore to a floating steakhouse?  Exactly.  Restaurants shaped like boats are a bad idea.  My reaction to their existence goes far beyond mild annoyance and could easily be classified as open hostility.  I suppose that narrows my options for meet and greet locations, but I’m alright with that. 

By the way, a second pet peeve of mine is Brunch, or as I like to refer to it, Breakfast for A**holes.  It’s beyond me why throwing a fried egg on top of an English muffin, sprinkling it with paprika, and serving it to me after 10 a.m. should triple the price of the aforementioned egg and muffin.  You’ll never find me brunching on a Sunday in a restaurant shaped like a boat.  Fisherman’s Feast, my ass.  Thanks for the question.     

What's the dirtiest thing in your house?

Depending on who comes home with me, the kitchen sponge. 

Thanks to the person who teed that one up for me.  You can apologize to my Special Lady Friend right after I’m done groveling. 

Assuming that being a litigator was not your first choice as a profession, how did you come to be one?  What would you choose to do professionally, supposing that there are no impediments to your doing it?

Wow.  This question brings up all kinds of thoughts.  I suppose the short answer to this question is that one of my greatest regrets in life is not having a “plan” in my early adult life.  Like most people, I had the weight of expectation placed firmly between my shoulder blades when I was in my early teens.  My parents were adamant that an education was the most valuable thing they could give me in order to secure my future.  A trust fund wasn’t an option.    

The problem is that I had a lot of dreams but I had no idea how to begin making them come true.  I never struck out and took a real chance.  I never chased my dream unapologetically.  I never had the courage to do that and the conservative background that I grew up in fostered my lack of risk taking.  That’s not all bad but it did leave a stockpile of untaken chances in my possession.  It’s a stockpile that I carry with me to this day; albeit, a bit smaller stockpile.    

The truth is that my failure to do those things and either succeed or fail at them eventually manifested itself in a horrible way when I was past my 20’s and I paid a very high price for it.  That’s a matter for another post, but the question above assumes that I “chose” to be something.  I didn’t.  Much of what happened to me in my early adult hood just “happened” to me.  I was like Forrest Gump except not as lucky and certainly not as stupid.  Tack on the massive ego and the ignorantly blind confidence that accompany youth along with the naïve and misguided idea that my great destiny would somehow find me and you get a good idea of why my true potential never blossomed. 

My parents’ collars were a lot more blue than they were white.  My dad climbed telephone poles and my mother worked retail and served as the Athletic Coordinator at the local health club.  My picture of lawyers was limited to what I saw on television or imagined the law would be like.  I knew lawyers got to write (but had no idea that legal writing is the exact opposite of creative writing), got to argue, and made decent money.  I liked school and was a good student.  I’m embarrassed to say that it was these things alone that served as the impetus for me to go to law school.  I wish there was a better story, but there isn’t.

To answer the question, I suppose I “decided” that law school was an option when I was a junior in college and my great-grandmother passed away.  Although she wasn’t wealthy she was an immigrant who managed to save enough to purchase a small apartment building and rent it out over the years.  It was worth a bit of money when she passed and she had a decent amount of cash in the bank.  As is the case when people pass away, there’s always at least one family member who feels entitled to it all.  That was the case with my mother’s uncle and aunt. 

For years I had witnessed my great grandmother begging my mother to allow her to transfer the building and all of the assets to her while she was still alive.  My mother always refused saying she didn’t feel right about accepting it.  When she died, her aunt and uncle contested the will and my mother accepted a small cash payout in lieu of fighting about it.  During that entire process, the only person who could explain any of it was the lawyer my parents hired to handle the dispute.  I remember feeling frustrated and powerless and I remember seeing my parents feel the same way.  That’s when I decided I would go to law school. 

As for my true calling?  The honest truth—and I mean this—is that if money had nothing to do with it and I could literally do anything I wanted to do for a living, I’d be a lounge singer.  I’d have a lounge act and I’d tour the country playing small venues with my band.  I’d wear flashy jackets and revel in making dozens of women swoon at the wink of my eye or a glance in their direction.  I’d refuse to play any lounge located in a boat-shaped restaurant.    

Why do men constantly have to touch themselves? It's attached and not going anywhere. Is there really a need for adjusting oneself regularly?

Unless this person hangs out with a professional baseball team all day, I’m not certain where this question comes from.  Like any normal person, my body parts are sometimes in need of an adjustment from time to time.  I suppose the female equivalent is the automatic taking off of the bra the second she arrives home.  If your man is in constant need of adjustment, perhaps he has chronic jock itch or perhaps you’re washing his underwear in hot water.  I’m certain he realizes that his equipment is attached.  I know that because all men spend the better part of their teenage years frantically trying to pull it off.  That lesson is learned early and reinforced often during that time of life.  Trust me, if there was a way to make it pop off, like Columbus, all men would stumble upon that great discovery during their childhood.    

To answer the second part of that question, I suppose that depends on the circumstances.  During an Austin summer, for instance, regular adjustments are, in fact, necessary in light of the heat and humidity.  That’s simply an issue of comfort rather than an issue of the aforementioned adolescent equipment fascination.  The only other alternative is that your man is feeling a bit “anxious” around you.  Rather than scoffing at it, be flattered and realize that you’re attractive to him.  You might want to offer to take over the adjustment duties from time to time as well.  Just remind him to shoot me a “thank you” email after you do. 

Well, there it is.  DP Tells All Part 4.  Enjoy your weekend and be prepared for the big finale on Monday.  I’ll post as early as I can next week.  Finally, I’m now committed to posting some pictures on the blog.  Attached is this week’s fan picture.  This guy caught up with me at my favorite local honky tonk and bought me a Lone Star Light.  If you happen to run into me, say hello.  In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be adjusting myself while having brunch at a boat shaped restaurant.  DP 


  1. I'm with you on the boat-shaped restaurants, although I'd have to add train-shaped ones as well. There's one in my town, that is made (I think) of actual train cars, making for narrow, cramped dining rooms that are impossible to walk through without constantly having to make right-of-way determinations with oncoming waitstaff or customers. I guess it could be worse... they could decide to make it shake like a real train, too. I also hate the Italian restaurants in which the booths are made to look like you're sitting inside giant wine barrels. I just want to eat... I don't need an "experience."

  2. As a Texan living in Chicago, I appreciate your cowboy wardrobe advice for the Yankees up here. Some people here seem to misunderstand the essence of western wear, however. You’re either born a cowboy or you aren’t. You can put a Hooters in the Vatican but it doesn’t make it a convent. Donning a pair of Ropers and Wranglers and singing “Friends in Low Places” at the local karaoke bar doesn’t make you Garth Brooks (so please stop it).
    Displaced Texan

  3. Great post this week, DP. I've been reading every week, but have had a hard time commenting due to some carpal tunnel issues I have going on. I think that you've done a great job entertaining us this season even though Ben's boring personality does not give you much to work with. Your blog is 10x better than the actual show. Anyway, is that you in that picture or Matthew Modine in Full Metal Jacket? Just kidding....its a good look. I just got so used to the James Dean/Johnny Depp look growing up with you for so many years that it takes time getting used to.

    I thought your advise on boot selection was awesome. I own several pairs myself and have worn boots for years. I was born in Texas and my roots in Texas date back to my great great grandparents who settled Texas back when there were actual cowboys and indians roaming our great state. Even I feel better informed for the next time I'm in the market for some new boots. You've come a long way since your days of wearing Jordache and Wolverines. All kidding genuinely love and appreciate Texas as much as anyone that I know and as a fellow Texan I think your insight about all things Texas is second to none. The big belt buckle smack to Dallas was a classic by the way.

    Looking forward to commenting more often as long as the hands hold up. Can't wait for the off season posts!!!!


  4. Thank you for answering my question about adjustments. I'm not around a baseball team. As this question stemmed from the actions of my boss and a few co-workers, I will just continue to pretend that I don't notice it. If I see that in someone other than these guys, I will remember your advice!

  5. Visceral reactions to guys in Chicago singing Garth Brooks and themed restaurants. For the record, I agree; however, tastefully worn boots will fit in anywhere with the proper attitude. My only comment on the train restaurant is that at least a train is a land based vehicle. You don't have to pretend to be on the ocean. Point taken, however. DP

  6. It's good to have you and your one hand back, MH. I hope that problem doesn't stem from the circumstances discussed in my "adjustment" answer. If it does, good for you for finding the time to do that enough to injure yourself. For the record, I prefered Sergio Valente over Jordache. Nice work. DP

    1. It's like my therapist told me. You have to love yourself before others can love you.


  7. Being from Columbus, Ohio I never knew there was so much to know about cowboy boots. Someday I will have to go in to Rod's Western Palace and see if my new found knowledge will get me a perfect pair of boots. Thanks Some Guy! Lass

  8. Come on, Lass. If it wasn't for the Ohio River you'd be from Kentucky. DP

  9. That was quite possibly the most thorough answer possible to the advice on buying boots but for women everywhere we thank you for the advice on the jeans. And braided belts are NEVER okay - boots or not. I have been kind of a fair weather reader as I just can't get into reading about or watching the Bachelor this season so thanks for the Friday afternoon laugh. Cheers!


  10. You should check out The Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore. It's the most expensive hotel in the world. It has a boat shaped park perch above three 55 story towers. The casino there alone attracts around 25,000 visitors a day and turns over $1 billion profit annually. Believe me....the whole "boat theme" works. Get on pun intended.

    By the way, let's have lunch this week at Sam's Boat. I think that we may have had a drink or two at the one in Houston back in the day.


  11. Singapore? Come on. Yes, my disdain with boat themed restaurants began in Houston. Remember Cap'n Benny's on westheimer? Horrible. DP

  12. Living in San Diego, it's hard to find a boat-shaped restaurant that ism't on the water! I haven't seen or heard of one. Love, M. Hussy

  13. DP-great posts. You had me laughing out loud at the remark of having Jake teach you to fly or Ben teach you to ride a horse!
    Thank you for the boot fitting advice. I am always so tempted by Old Gringo boots but can't make myself try any on cause I know I will fall in love with something that can only be worn a few weeks a year around here plus their price tag is a bit off putting. Snow and slick boots don't make for a good combo and I am too old to rock the cute dress and boots look. Oh, well, a girl can dream and now that I have your advice, maybe I will brave it and try some on.

    Sal in Utah

  14. Great post DP! I couldn't help but notice your weight loss in that pic; what did you do to get so fit?

  15. LOVED the boot section. I knew all of it, except the stitching was to keep the leather from sagging.
    I (ashamedly) only have 3 pair.
    Texas, plain black ropers.
    Dovi from Juarez "JV" green crocodile.
    J Chisholm cognac eel.
    My next pair will be RED! :)
    TLew ~ Nashville

  16. 1. if you lived in NYC, you'd LOVE brunch. there are no boat shaped restaurants (at least i've never seen any), and you'd quickly realize it's less about overpriced eggs, and more about bottomless mimosas to ward off the impending hangover from the night before, and catching up with friends.
    2. next time you take a picture with a fan, please tell him to make sure it's in focus, because GODDAMN you're a good looking man and i'd like to appreciate that without all the blurriness.

  17. DP, love you off season posts! Thanks for the great advice on the boots. My husband is always trying to get me to buy a new pair of boots, but I haven't found any that are worth wearing on a normal basis. This really helps when I venture out for another pair of boots. I agree that riding boots are way different from fashion boots. When you are riding all day you need a comfortable, warm (in the snow) boot that will get you through the long day. Thanks for all your insights. Can't wait for the off season posts. Kim in NV