Saturday, May 2, 2015


I’m old enough to remember when shoes used to be worn primarily as protection for your feet.  Regular guys had two pair of shoes.  One for everyday to wear to school, or work, or play, and another pair for what used to be called ‘dress up’.

I still consider myself a regular guy even though I’m much older than I used to be.  I don’t really even know how a regular guy would become not so regular of a guy.  I must have missed that class when I was in school.
The main difference between then and now, however, is that I have a couple of dozen pair of shoes now, rather than the two pair I had for so many years.  I’m kind of ashamed to know that I have as many as I do. 

What I want to know is, “How’d I get all these shoes?”  I never went on a shoe binge.  I’m not the kind of guy who picks up a pair of shoes as an impulse buy.
And I’ve never bought a particular pair of shoes just because someone I’ve admired had them.  All I can figure is that I acquired them ‘as needed’ along the way.  I am an ‘as needed’ kind of guy, I guess.  

As a boy, when I’d wear holes through the soles of my shoes my mom would cut cardboard inserts to slip inside the shoes to protect my socks from getting holes worn in them.  We were not really poor.  I mean we had money for food and gas, and a roof over our heads most of the time, but we didn’t often have extra money for shoes.  I wore them as long as possible.  Actually wore them until I’d outgrow them.  By the time I would outgrow them the soles would be worn down to nothing.  I’d actually be walking around on cardboard. 

Today shoes seem to be symbols of one thing or another.  Many people have dozens of pairs of shoes.  Some people have dozens of pairs of the same shoe even, and in several different colors.  I don’t know what that’s a symbol of, but it does seem to indicate a desire to never again have to wear cardboard in their shoes.  After all, I’d like to believe I’m not the only one whose mother put cardboard inserts in their shoes. 
Some women, celebrities, and athletes, have hundreds of pairs of shoes.  I suppose shoe-fetish aficionados might also.  I shouldn’t be one to talk though because, as I’ve said, I’ve got a couple of dozen pairs myself.  But what I know as well as I know my own name is that a person can only wear one pair of shoes at a time.  I imagine that some of those people with hundreds of them never even get to wear half of them.  That’s kind of sad, to have all those shoes and not be able to wear them.  I suppose the unworn ones would tend to feel neglected, or relieved, depending on whether or not their owner is someone who is particularly hard on shoes.
I must admit that out of the couple dozen pairs of shoes that I own, I have three pair of the same kind.  Years ago I found a particular tennis shoe that I really liked for about twenty bucks.  That’s pretty cheap for a good tennis shoe.  And there are not many that I really like, so when the shoes I was wearing wore out I looked to get another pair of them.  I wear a size 13, and the store I bought them at didn’t have any more 13’s in stock for about a year.  I couldn’t find them at any other outlet either.  So, long story short, when they finally got three pair of my size in I bought all three of them.  I was afraid I’d never find the shoes again.  But now I should be fixed for the rest of my life.

My wife and I have a couple of dogs.  We love them, and care for them the best that we know how.  We’ve been taking them on long hikes just about every day.  Shoes are one of the ways that indicate to me how smart these dogs really are.  When they see me put my hiking shoes on they get as excited as is possible for a dog to get over a pair of shoes.  As you know, dogs don’t wear shoes.  I’ve often wondered what they must think about humans wearing shoes.  I wonder if they think we’re a little odd for doing so, or if they think we might just be a little smarter than the average dog.  I don’t know that they’d ever admit that if it were true, particularly because I’m pretty sure they know it’s not. 

I have tennis shoes, dress shoes, river shoes, hiking shoes, hiking boots, work shoes, work boots, cowboy boots, motorcycle boots, ugh boots, moccasins, flip-flops, slippers, slip-ons, lace-ups, buckle-ups and sandals.  I’m quite aware that there are indigenous cultures in the world that only wear sandals, and it looks like most of them do alright with it.  Maybe I don’t really need all of these different shoes.  Maybe I can get by with one pair of all-purpose shoes, or go real organic with just a pair of sandals.  Works for some of those societies we see on Animal Planet, or the National Geographic channel. 

Some of the most important and influential people in human history have been partial to sandals.  Look it up.  Jesus comes to mind, but of course they killed him.  I don’t think it was because he had ugly sandals.  It probably had more to do with his disinclination to walk a mile in Pontius Pilate’s political shoes.
I’ve often wondered what must have become of his sandals.  I wonder if he wore a size 13.  I’d sure like to get my feet in them.