"Mickey Mouse"

Mark.Mandel at LHSL.COM Mark.Mandel at LHSL.COM
Fri Dec 7 16:21:30 UTC 2001

>From another member of the list where the question arose.

-- Mark M.

An observation and a hypothesis:

US soldiers often refers to both air-pocketed
extreme cold weather boots, and chemical protective
boots, as "Mickey Mouse boots".  This, in part,
because the gear is oversized and distorts the
natural proportions of the foot: a big bulb of
a boot on a pipestem leg, like a cartoon character.
In another part, such boots make movement difficult and
grace unlikely. One so encumbered in boots is as
liable to pratfalls as a cartoon character.

To an extent, the proportions and resulting
clumsiness of gear for the hands is similar,
though I have only once heard usage of "Mickey Mouse
mittens". Ditto the head, but _never_ a "Mickey Mouse

But I _have_ heard, and often,  "the full
Mickey Mouse" among green suiters referring
to donning complete MOPP gear.

It should be noted that trying to do very simple
things (like see or move) while wearing the full
Mickey Mouse is _so_ difficult, and the hazards
the full Mickey Mouse defends you from (cold and
_maybe_ gas) are _so) intangible (compared to the
visceral dangers of falling from a high place
(or getting SHOT!) ) that the wearer (this one,
anyway) is (was)  CONSTANTLY fighting the temptation
to peel the stuff off. One is stuck with the
dichotomy -- intellectually acceptance /emotional
rejection  and coping with the dichotomy often involves
trivializing it. It's "just" Mickey Mouse.  It's
not important enough to hate.  It's just Mickey
Mouse.  It's not a source of fear.  It's Mickey Mouse.

It seems to me to be a reasonable hypothesis that
the sense of misproportion, awkwardness, cognitive
dissonance and comic possibility of "the full
Mickey Mouse" might be lifted from a military
cold weather or chemical hazard environment and
applied to military or even civil bureaucracy.
"They spend the day mowing the grass, polishing
the brass, and covering their ass -- all that Mickey

But I won't _insist_ on that interpretation...

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