Sunday, January 8, 2012

Losing My Sole

 I've never been called a "clothes horse" or confused with someone who follows fashion. I have no interest in such things. Price and durability is all that matters to me.
 I did have one brief lapse in the 1960's when the Beatles era was in full swing. I lusted for, I bought ... a Nehru jacket. I wore it a few times at most. For where do you wear a Nehru jacket? I felt like an ordained minister.
 That said, I have since that time had only one brief brush with fashion. For Christmas in 1994 (I believe) I was given a new pair of Nike "Air Bound 3" shoes. They were gleaming white and had a thin trim of "mineral green", a color I found particularly appealing. Grass stains would melt to insignificance beside that earthy green, I thought.
 That is, had I worn them. I like them too much to wear them. I was enough to know I owned a pair of Nike Airs.

 In the intervening years - probably 17 to be fair - the shoes have stayed mostly in their bright orange box, on the floor of my closet, safely tucked away, available for those rare times when I wanted to be seen in a good pair of shoes.

  In recent years, I've bought, worn and wore out quite a number of athletic shoes. Most were bought on sale, shoes that reached the end of their lives or the end of their season. The last pair I bought was a canvas shoe from Wal-Mart, just $17.99. I have been wearing them for the past year until I found my toenails turning mysteriously black. The shoes, a half size too small, are also clearly too short for my feet. As I walk in Sam's driveway, my feet drive into the front of the shoes, push on my toenails and driving them to damage.

 I showed my toes to Mom last night and she was a little horrified. "Quit wearing those shoes! Throw them out!" she told me. "You're going to ruin your feet!".

  I had a new pair of canvas shoes awaiting me. These I purchased at Target in recent months - my size, even - as an end of season clearance, as summer slid into fall. I paid less than $5. They have sat in the closet along with the prized Nike's, awaiting a time of need.

 The time of need is now. Black toenails do not become me. But, thought I, after all those years of disuse, why not get out those beloved Nike's and take a walk? The day is clear and sunny. Sam's driveway is dry. My feet need good shoes. And so I grasp the prized orange box, take it downstairs, carefully peel back the tissue paper (yes, they are still packed exactly as I got them), loosen the laces and slide them onto my receptive but sore feet.

 It is heaven. The shoes feel like slippers. I am ready to walk!

 I grab my hoodie, pull on my winter coat, walk proudly out to the end of Sam's driveway. I feel like a Lipizzaner stallion, lift my gleaming white feet a little higher, walk proudly.

 I am not a hundred feet back the gravel driveway when I feel like I am walking on something. I lift my left foot to look at the bottom of my shoe. The sole has delaminated, rotten rubber crumbles to the ground! What!? I figure I'll walk on and see if I can move forward with the sole dragging. I cannot. The other shoe lets go.

 I have lost my soles. My shoes have literally exploded.

 I clomp - that is the best word for it - back to the house. Mom is at the sink and asks why I am back to soon. I lift my shoes with the dangling soles. She laughs. "You shouldn't have waited so long to wear those," she says.

 My Nike Airs, worn only a few times before today (and then mostly indoors), are gone. I look at the box more carefully. The original price was $84.99 but they were purchased on sale for $49.99. Made in Indonesia. I suppose the warranty has run out.

 On both pair, the sole has completely pulled away from the shoes. Flecks of rotten Neoprene fall to the floor.

 I pulled on my "new" pair of shoes from Target. At less than $5 they offer me a fine walk. Not so proudly as the Nike's but more comfortable, indeed. As I walk behind the barn I find an air bladder lying on the gravel. Another twenty-five feet and I find another. The Nike's have left part of their sole behind.

 It is a Sunday morning and I have lost mine, too.

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