Shoe Shopping with Frankenstein

I shop for shoes once every four years. It can’t really be called shopping. I think shopping assumes going from store to store trying on shoes and at the end of an exhaustive yet fruitful outing (which may include lunch) there could be several pairs of shoes in tow. I don’t do this. I go to one place and within eight minutes I narrow my search to the two finalists. Each shoe tries its best to win my affections. I’m not a robot. I do try the shoes on. The shoes do their best to impress me. Sometimes I inadvertently put a shoe at a disadvantage by forgetting to take the balled up paper out of the tip. This could cause a shoe to be eliminated unless the shoe is lucky enough to have me catch my faux pas (make your own bad pun about “paw”). There is no number to text to help the shoe win. I bring along no moral support to help make my final judgement. Usually within 7 minutes of eliminating to the final two shoes, I pick a winner.

Once a winner is chosen I may even wear the shoes out upon my purchase. I may also ask the clerk to throw away my old shoes for me. You see, I’ll never wear those shoes again. At this point, there is enough glue holding them together that one arch is thicker than the other, forcing me to walk like Frankenstein. I’m not only talking about a monster-like limp, but I also need to keep both hands out in front of me for balance. The shoes I’m leaving behind are very tired and most likely didn’t know what their life would have in store for them.

My shoe closet has no gossipy shoes lounging around wondering when they’ll get picked. Everyone has their job. Summer sandals go to sleep in the fall and hibernate though the winter. Black dress shoes are alerted mainly in the case of a wedding, funeral and, recently, rain. Dress shoe didn’t always come out during rain. Dress shoes were surprised one rainy day. They thought they were on their way to a wedding or a funeral – waiting to either stand and sit somber or dance after the owner made several trips to the beer on tap. Dress shoes weren’t really sure how to respond to a non event. The day didn’t seem like it would ever end. They were called into action because Tennis shoes were taking in water in left lower and right upper quadrants. Tennis shoes were a bit sad, but happy for the break. I think it was then when Tennis shoes started thinking about ending a solid career. They were smart shoes. They may have even been contemplating shoe hereafter or some other weighty thoughts that a shoe might think – if it were a smart shoe.

One day my Tennis shoes were sitting next to my eight year old daughter’s shoes – Twinkle Toes. My Tennis shoes were admiring Twinkle Toes’ quick fastening velcro straps. I think there may have been a tinge of jealousy from those old shoes. Tennis shoes knew this was the end of the road for them. At least they had each other. When I knew I would never wear them again I had the common decency to securely tie them together so they could never be separated (or at least not easily – I couldn’t sign off on a guarantee for a shoe). Tennis shoes knew that Twinkle Toes could get donated or handed down and they would have a small chance of getting worn again.

So on this most recent trip, there was one thing different from all my other “shoe shopping” excursions that normally lasted upwards to 15 focused minutes. On this trip I had brought my daughter Lila. She was wearing Twinkle Toes and bound and determined to get another pair of Twinkle Toes. Of course, I’m totally fine with this. In my eyes she’s like Einstein only wearing white shirts and black pants so as to conserve brain energy on things that don’t matter. My wife likes Einstein just fine and enjoyed all his work with the energy and the mass and what not, but she doesn’t want Lila to start another school year with Twinkle Toes. She wants her to change it up – perhaps to a pair of shoes with laces. Maybe a more substantial shoe. On this trip we were going to take care of Lila before I invested my fifteen minutes to trade in my Frankenstein shoes.

I should back up and say that my wife had planned to do the shoe shopping with Lila, but I thought I would do her a favor and get it checked off – since it usually only takes 15 minutes to buy two shoes (that’s 7.5 minutes  per foot). Immediately, this was not looking like 15 minutes. I couldn’t see the Twinkle Toes brand in the store, so I pressed her on what I thought looked like very solid tennis shoes and a bit on the affordable side, if I don’t mind saying so. She would not even try them on. Generally, I pride myself on my parenting skills. And when I say “parenting skills” I mean “trickery”. But I see now that my skills don’t include the shoe concerns of an eight year old girl. She really had her mind set on those Twinkle Toes. And as I mentioned, I liked the idea, but there were two problems. My wife didn’t like the idea AND we were already in a shoe store. The shoe store didn’t have the elusive Twinkle Toes and in my world that meant that there were no Twinkle Toes.

Apparently this is where the shoe shopping starts. It looked like we would have to leave this store and go to another store for said shoes. This is so foreign to me that my knees start to get weak and my stomach feels queasy. Are you kidding me goodly and gentle reader, am I supposed to get in the car and spend 20 minutes going to another store and spend another 15 minutes there? And if not successful there, will I need to go someplace else and spend time in the store and transit time to get to the store? Why don’t I just go kill a buffalo and spend the time chewing the fat off the hide until I make the most soft pliable leather shoes. Then I’ll get a bunch of berries and make a pinkish paint – creating custom Twinkle Toes (possibly calling them Wrinkle Toes to avoid copyright infringement). I call my wife for advice. She says to abort mission and get back to the mothership immediately. I didn’t get my pair of new shoes, but this seemed like the right thing to do.

When I get home I again explain my dilemma. She shushs me. I rub my receding hairline forehead to send myself to my happy place (note to self – this forehead rubbing may also account for my receding hairline). Cynthia takes Lila and they go into the office and sit in front of the computer. She pulls up numerous shoe websites that she has bookmarked. I watch like a Neanderthal who may have been seeing fire for the first time. More shoes than I’ve ever seen flash before my eyes. Must shield eyes. I look down and see my four-year old son Hoyt standing behind, equally dazed and feeling a little sleepy as the monitor burned with pink and purple and kittens and stars and smiley toothy thirteen year olds.

I asked Hoyt if he wanted to go play catch with his big blue ball. He said “Yeah,” immediately running out of the room. I watched the monitor for  a second longer. Hoyt yelled, “Come on, dad!” So I quickly limped like Frankenstein, arms outstretched ready to catch a ball or catch my fall in case the glob of glue on the bottom of my shoe snagged something. I may have also made a noise like, “Errrrrrrrrrrrrrr.”

Sadly Yours,

Jason Spafford

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