Many fetishists carry a dreadful secret: They are thieves.

The overwhelming urge for their particular icon of sexuality, coupled with some level of poverty, encouraged by opportunity, and leavened with the thrill of getting away with something, all can turn even the most passive fetishist momentarily into a sweating kleptomaniac. For instance, Chuck Jones, the publicist for personality Marla Maples, spirited away her shoes and boots, and James Ellroy, the mystery writer, reveals in his recent book his nocturnal breaking into houses to forage for ladies panties.

Many a fetishist succumbs to the temptation to do evil.

I know, for I have done so myself. Twice.

I would confess to the victims if I could, but the guilt is like a wind of knives in my mind, and the memory is both too embarrassing and too exciting to reveal to the women.

The first time was in high school. I was at a big event, and this first victim had taken off her boots. They were the kind that everyone was wearing in the 70's; basic black with a low heel, a fashion recently revived. I had not yet even touched a boot, but was dying to have my way with them. When no one was looking, I took them, hid them nearby, and after everyone had left, went back and retrieved them. Good does come of evil however, the girl was "rescued" by a friend of mine and they later married.

The second time was after college. I was at a party and while wandering around the house, I took a peep, as is my wont, into the hostess' closet. She was what we fetishists like to call a boot person. And I was staggered to note in her collection a pair of over-the-knee platform boots, with a one-and-a-half-inch sole, and a five-and-a-half-inch heel. I had to have them. I was driven. I basically repeated the same pattern of theft.

I still have both pairs of boots in my personal collection, and having them plunged me deeper over the years into a fetishism that I now greatly enjoy.

Memories of these thieveries were sparked by my sightings on Monday, the 23rd of December, which was an all time high of a boot day.

First, at about 2:30 pm, I saw from the MAX train going through downtown, a tall girl walking east on Morrison. She was with a friend, and was wearing jet black groupie platforms, probably six or seven inchers, with the tops going over her knees.

Then, near my office, I saw a Eurasian girl in worn-out vintage boots, rusty brown and gilded with straps and flexible vents. I was able to walk behind her and her slacker boyfriend for a couple of blocks. Not long after this, I saw a slender girl with a Bettie Page haircut and tight black boots (like the ones I stole) and fine black net stockings. She too was with a BF; a hairy lout.

Later in the day, I saw an even wilder pair of boots, these on a rather hard-faced (but not unattractive) Scandinavian blonde, leather-encased, motorcycle girl, her necessary boots bloated, padded black things like something out of a gladiator movie. Finally, I espied an exotic Arabian girl in delightfully simple black boots, new but once again created in the pattern of those first boots I swiped, evoking memories both fond and uncomfortable. It was a great day, even if it was derived out of a checkered past.

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