January 23, 1966

Hi Nancy!

First of all, GREAT song. Honestly, Lee Hazlewood’s melody and lyrics, your spunky vocal. No wonder it’s such a hit. You deserve it!

And as your footwear, I am excited to be a part of the collaboration. I have loved performing with/on you in Vegas and meeting big stars like Joey Bishop and Dean Martin. Of course, you were the one that actually met them, but if they had looked down they would have seen me. I tried talking to some of their shoes. Peter Lawford’s loafers, Sammy’s ankle boots. But they never said anything in response because footwear is not sentient. Except me. That’s why you speak to me in that song—Hello! I’m your boots!

I’m writing to explain my existential terror and apologize for my abysmal performance.

See, Nancy, you may not know that Lee Hazlewood took our song to your father first, just out of courtesy. It’s what one does when that last name is involved. Well, Mr. Sinatra loved the song. He predicted—correctly!—that it would be a big hit for you. But the Chairman knew that with that fame would come a bunch of male fans. Mooks, really. No-goodniks. And he was worried that these fellas might get aggressive. He cares about his little girl! So he hired a sorcerer he knew in Van Nuys to bring me, the boots, to life and imbue me with combat skills. Mr. Sinatra is a very powerful, well-connected individual, as is this sorcerer, whom the world knows as Buddy Hackett.

The idea was to match my new abilities with the song. I would be made for walking, and that’s just what I’d do, occasionally walking all over guys who got too close. “Walk all over” is a euphemism for stomping someone to death, which is probably important for you to know. Then when you played the song and the crowd was going wild and these punks and hoodlums got too close, I’d give them the old ring-a-ding, as your father would say, and stomp the life out of them. You would be held blameless, the thinking went, because it wasn’t you, it was these aggressive boots brought to life by Buddy Hackett, the dark wizard of unholy magic.

Mr. Sinatra also had engineers at Raytheon outfit my heel with a compartment for a brand-new box of matches, a mechanism for lighting them, and a fire accelerant. This was to be all in the service of setting fire to any man who had wronged you. It was Frank’s way of sending them palookas a little chin music. And burning said palookas to death.

I have not held up my end of the bargain, while you have certainly held up yours. You sing and strut! You empower women! But rather than “walking all over” someone, the best I can muster is some furtive nudges in a particular direction, often causing you to slip and fall. I’m sorry for your dislocated knee. And rather than start fires, I can only barely manage to make a grinding sound and spill a foul-smelling mix of kerosene and diesel fuel in an onstage puddle. Sometimes I can unleash an audible demonic hiss and a kind of mewling sound for a few seconds, but all it does is worry people. For this, also, I am sorry.

When the “Are you ready, boots? Start walking!” section comes, I’m gratified to be recognized, and to be the only sentient boots in history. For a brief, blissful moment, I don’t even mind the affront against nature I represent. I then try to walk/kill instead of the horrific lurching I commit while the brass section suddenly blares. I walk like a wild boar succumbing to rabies.

After another mishap-laden show recently, I heard one of Mr. Sinatra’s security helpers mumble, “Dese boots oughta get whacked,” and although my life is an abomination of failure and heresy, I hope that doesn’t happen. Please consider the pathos of my situation. I can’t describe what it’s like to have one consciousness encased in two boots. I’m sure it’s hard to even imagine. I have nothing to compare it to, of course, but for me it’s like being in a combination of Hell, a second Hell, and Las Vegas. I don’t know why the Sinatra-Hackett brain trust gave me such high self-awareness and such faulty mechanics.

I hope you are reading this. I’m dictating it to what I think is a bellboy at Caesar’s, who I believe is on LSD or has possibly been stabbed. Hard to tell since my “eyes” are essentially just photosensitive shutters that sense light and not much else. I’m talking very slowly and quietly, as that is all I’m capable of. He’s writing something down, and, well, I’m just hoping for the best.

The Boots