In the past week, I lost two pairs of shoes. I don’t know if that has some cosmic meaning (if you know, please share). Anyway, I found my own meaning.
To start, one of my dogs (the investigation is open) pissed all over my everyday shoes, my work shoes. And, the culprit didn’t just piss; he unloaded a long, morning piss directly inside my left shoe. That was Tuesday. So, for the rest of the week I had to wear my ‘middle-aged dad shoes’, or white New Balances. Days go by. It makes me smile because it was the week leading into Father’s Day, so I adopted it as my personal tribute to Father’s Day.
But then, on Father’s Day, on our way into a restaurant for dinner, I blew out my right flip-flop. If you’ve blown out a flip-flop in public, you know, I don’t have to describe it. The next day, Monday (my Sunday), I had to go for shoes.
After the always excruciating experience of selecting an everyday wardrobe item like shoes (see also: jackets, coats, sunglasses, watches, hats, and some pairs of jeans), I was on my way home and had a vivid memory of my father.
I remember as a child standing at the bottom of our stairs where we left our shoes. I stared at them. My ‘old’ shoes. My father was about to take my younger brother and I for new sneakers. My father said what now seems like an aside thought he was having but at the time sounded like a challenge. He said, approximately, ” I don’t buy myself new shoes. These shoes are at least a year old.”
It was shocking to me. We would get new shoes regularly, mostly because we kept outgrowing them. He explained this difference to me on the car ride. (I had asked him why he doesn’t get new shoes). He said when you get older you stop growing, so you don’t need new shoes until the old ones wear out. I suddenly felt guilty that my dad had to wear old shoes while we would get new ones.
I left something out — something else occurred that helped spark this memory.
On Sunday, Father’s Day, the day my second pair of shoes wore out, I had taken my two daughters out for the day to get them each something that they wanted. It was my idea. That’s what I wanted to do. My oldest daughter got a jewelry making kit (hand-crafted jewelry starting at $8 – website under construction) and my youngest got a baseball pitching and fielding net. It came to about $50 each, but I used the $50 gift card my mother gave me for the holiday. I thought nothing of it until now.
Back to the past — After that shoe excursion with my father and brother, when my growing had slowed, I purchased a pair of Timberland’s in what was probably my sophomore year of high school. I wore them as long as I could. I still had them my freshman year of college. I guess I was seeing if I could do it – wear out a pair of shoes. (By the way, every pair of Timb’s I bought after that couldn’t make it 6 months.)
Those memories led to another before the ride home was over — My father’s socks.
My brother and I used to steal my dad’s socks from his drawer. So bold we were that when we took them off we would just drop them anywhere. My dad would lose his mind every time he found a pair of his socks on the floor. He tried everything to put an end to the practice. First he banned us from taking them. He cautioned we’d be grounded or worse if caught. He bought wide-striped colored socks so we’d be too embarrassed to wear them. Sometimes when he’d buy new ones, he’d show us the package and say, “These are my socks.”
It turns out, as I found out one christmas morning years later when each of us (I also have a sister) gave him a package of socks, that he loved new socks. We said sorry for all the socks and he said it wasn’t a problem at all. He said he would wear a new pair of socks everyday if he could. (Probably cause he’s wearing them old-ass shoes.)
So the meaning I took away from losing two pairs of shoes this past week is;
A dad will go without shoes for his children but don’t fuck with his socks.