"Mickey Mouse"

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Fri Dec 7 18:12:51 UTC 2001

In the late 50's these items, purchased from Army stores, were dyed
bright colors and had a brief popularity as "fruit boots" among
tennage boys.


>re: Mickey Mouse boots, also known as Bunny Boots in the Tenth Mountain
>Division (in WWII), we quickly discarded them. As Mark M. notes, they are
>oversized and clumsy. They also charred easily when the GI is crouched over
>a fire in the snow. Bunny Boots were not meant for walking, just camp use).
>They were a nuisance to carry; wouldn't fold or scrunch into a wad, like
>moccasins. The army designers were apparently not aware that when a human
>pack mule is already burdened with sleeping gear, rifle, skis, tent, food,
>ammo, etc. etc. discarding is top priority. I suppose that the army's
>issuance of these items was looked upon as simply more foolish fooling
>around, akin to SNAFU, etc.
>Martin Murie
>Mark Mandel wrote:
>>>>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...
>A&M Murie
>N. Bangor NY
>sagehen at westelcom.com

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at pilot.msu.edu
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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