Monday, October 19, 2009
Those Damn Shoes
While I was in D.C. and it was relentlessly raining, I had a serious wardrobe problem: my shoes.
Some people have a sort of shoe fetish, but I’ve never understood that. I have six pair: brown, casual black, dress black, gym sneakers, running shoes and sandals. (And honestly, I should throw out those gym shoes, because they’re shot.)
My brown shoes get the heaviest use -- pretty much every day, in fact. Most recently I’ve had a pair of PGLites, and I’ve really liked them. But after a year and a half of almost-daily wear, they began to self-destruct.
First they developed a hole in the heel, and another in the front sole.
Then, last week, the leather upper began to tear away from the sole, leaving a huge gap that I could push my fingers through.
I ordered a new pair of shoes last week, but they’re not in yet. So while I was in D.C., my shoes were leaking like mad. All day Saturday I was walking around with wet feet, which is a thoroughly miserable experience. Every step I took sucked more water in through those holes; I sounded downright squishy.
My friends know this is not all that unusual for me. I have a history of pushing shoes farther than they’re meant to go. To illustrate, there’s a legendary story in my family about the trip my mom, brother and I took to Glacier National Park in 1990. We were walking along a boardwalk carefully designed to elevate us above the sensitive alpine meadow plants: the columbine, the Indian paintbrush. But the boardwalk was damp and I, in my battered, tractionless shoes, took a wrong step and tumbled, face first, off the boardwalk and into the ecologically protected flora. My mother, walking next to me, did not say, “Are you OK?” She said, “Those damn shoes.”
Anyway, when I got back to New Jersey last night, I showed Dave my horrifying shoes. He had me throw them away immediately and gave me a pair of his shoes to wear. (Amazingly, I can wear his shoes, even though his feet are a size bigger than mine.) I have to admit, it felt amazing to have warm, dry feet once again.
I always feel a little sad when I throw away a pair of shoes. I think of everywhere they took me -- in this case to India, where they were polished by a poor kid who had no idea how to polish shoes, and where I was perpetually afraid they’d be stolen on the overnight train.
But the reaper had definitely come for these shoes. RIP, PGLites!