Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rule breaker.

One of my more endearing qualities is that I am, above all things, a follower of rules.

To be clear, I am not a blind follower of every rule. Hitler, for example, came up with a bunch of rules that I don't think would have sat well with me, had I lived in Nazi Germany in the '20s. The rules I'm referring to are more along the lines of your modern-American traffic laws. This is not to say that I can't think for myself, just that I'm a rebel only when a very good cause is present.

But yes - I love rules. I don't just follow them, I love to follow them. I love to enforce them, bringing unnecessary tension to seemingly fun things like board games. I like to write them in my notebooks at work in neat handwriting, underlining the important parts. Sometimes highlighter, too. I love to tell people what rules they are currently violating.

"Actually, you can't create an authorization without all the buy details."
"'Scuse me! You can't ride your bike on the sidewalk!"
"Um, there's no smoking in here!"
"You need to turn your phone off, they've closed the cabin door!"
"This is the quiet car!"

And so on.

I think my love of rules stems directly from my love of being correct, being a model citizen, getting extra credit, avoiding trouble at all costs. In order to win, one must know that which will cause him to lose. I don't know if it was my conservative midwestern upbringing or my all-Catholic gene pool that brought me to this place, but rule-abiding, as a descriptor, clings to my white blood cells right alongside perfectionist and self-deprecator. It's exhausting and tedious, being in charge of the rules. But it's who I am.

Sir was raised in a more liberal setting, and as such has always regarded the rules as more of suggested guidelines, intended to be tested and scrutinized. And BROKEN, heaven forbid. We've had several discussions on the topic, almost all of them going something like this:

He: "Did you hear about so-and-so? Can you believe the reaction of the police?"
Me: "Well... that was brutal, yes, but... but... they were instigating it, they were breaking the LAW..."
He: "It's a dumb law."
Me, sputtering: "But it's the LAW!"

I'm sure he finds all of my neuroses adorable, although obnoxious might be a better word.

So anyway, I have these lace-up boots. I've owned them for more than a year now. They're probably one of my favorite pairs of shoes; they're cute, comfy and the wedge heel makes them pretty good for walking all over the place. But they have one glaring design flaw, a grain of sand that's been rubbing around in my oyster shell, irritating me to no end for the past 12 months: the tongue is totally out of control.

Do you know what I'm talking about? There's no loop on the tongue for you to lace through and stabilize the thing, and you end up with the entire tongue stuffed all the way to the left or right every time you walk more than 5 paces. It's incredibly annoying.

It was, however, this very situation that eventually incited me to become that which I simultaneously despise and secretly admire: a RULE BREAKER.

Despite the fact that every fiber of my being was telling me that we don't deface our own property (or anyone else's, for that matter), I thought very quietly to myself: what if I altered the tongue to create a stabilizing lace-loop? I could cut slits in the existing tongue, or affix some sort of material to the tongue to create the loop. Option A was probably better, since I didn't have the proper tools for stitching through leather and they weren't really high enough quality to start getting a cobbler involved. After months of contemplating this every time I wore those boots, I finally asked Sir if he thought it would be okay to cut my boots.

He looked at me blankly.

I mean, I guess why not? They're MY boots. Was some combination of Steve Madden and my mother going to come at me with a lecture about taking care of my things? Unlikely. Also, it was poor workmanship on Steve's part. He would WANT me to do this thing for him. For me, even.

So I grabbed one of Sir's utility knives and a cutting board and I cut slits in the tongue of my shoes. It took less than two minutes to implement from start to finish. And then I laced them up, slipping the laces under the loops, and put them on my feet, better than they were before. And in that moment, I became the master of my own destiny.

Also, it worked. Really well. I've been prancing around in my boots, tongue firmly in place and proud as can be, for roughly a week or two now. I should write ol' Steve a letter, to school him in this brilliance. You know, because he should alter his design to accommodate how the foot moves and really, it's the only correct way to make a boot.

I'm making a note of it.


  1. haha, love it Jen! I knew there was a good reason we were friends, back in the days of warm wurms in the ... I don't remember the rest, and I don't know if that part was right but it sounds... wrong! Anyway- good job going against your rule-abiding self and fixing your boots. Now I bet you had done that quite some time ago!
    - Erwin

  2. So funny. I have always admired your independence and determination to do it your way. And all along you were just following your own rules!

  3. Excellent. I am also a rule follower (grammar is a glaring example), but especially when it comes to unwritten rules. Like, rules of etiquette, for example. I SQUIRM whenever people talk loudly on the subway, blare their music, don't offer up a seat for pregnant women or old people. Actual, written rules like speed limits, are completely unimportant to me.

  4. Hahahaha. Pictures please. And, you reminded me of something. I was at a friend's house at age 10 when we realized that dampening H20+ bath confetti could produce a makeshift hair-streak dye. My friend ran to the back of her closet to get one of her old Barbie dolls, and the doll's hair had been chopped off to give it a pixie cut. My jaw dropped to the floor at the mere thought of doing anything to a doll's hair but brushing it within the exact hairstyle it was packaged in, and I said, "You can ... DO THAT?"

  5. Mom - I think it started out that way, but really I was just creating the rule book.

    Anna - it remains a tragedy that you and I have yet to meet. It's probably because I don't go anywhere or do anything.

    Jo - I HAD THE EXACT SAME THOUGHT IN REGARDS TO CUTTING BARBIE HAIR. And American Girl doll hair. And then I got so over-excited and liberated, I ruined all their hair. I regret it to this day.

  6. We just got back from Barnes and Noble and I had this little blog post running through my head each time I tripped over someone sprawled out on the floor reading. I mean, sure flip through, read the jacket, read the first couple pages, but can you really just camp out there and read the whole book? I sat on the floor for five minutes, then felt guilty, stood up and walked to the register. Rules: 1. Christy: -$20

  7. YES agree. also, who wants to buy a book that someone else had read? if i wanted anything other than crispy, crackling, brand new pages, i would be at the library.

    ps we need to go to the library. the one by bryant park. it's so hogwarts, you'll die.