I have to go shoe shopping.
Did I mention I rank “go shoe shopping” just a smidge above being “be beaten with a shovel” on my list of “Things I’d Rather Not Do Today”?
Now I’m sure you’re asking, “Why do you keep that list? And just how long is it?”
But the time has come for me to replace several pairs of shoes. I don’t own a lot of shoes. I have:
— Two pairs of dress shoes – one black, one brown.
— Two pairs of tennis shoes – one old, one new, the prior for yard work, the latter for all that tennis I play.
— A pair of LL Bean duck boots I have had since 1989 and still rock it out in the swamp.
— A pair of Red Wing cowboy boots that I wear when I need to let folks know that I have a pair of cowboy boots.
— A pair of LL Bean slippers that I got years ago that will be worn until they simply disintegrate around my feet, despite the annual Christmas tradition of my wife saying, “So would you like some new slippers this year?”
— A pair of sandals that I wear whenever is feasibly possible.
— Two pairs of cleats, one for softball, one for soccer, that have been retired for years, and now only come out of retirement for events such as last year’s parents vs. students soccer game at my daughter’s school, which reminded me of why they are retired.
— A pair of hiking boots that I wear whenever my sandals cannot go into service.
OK, so 11 pairs of shoes may seem like a lot. Compare that to my wife’s shoe collection, which last time I checked was bordering on 43 billion, and I’d call mine not a lot.
I wear shoes until they die. And a few pairs are in dire need of repair. Both of my work shoes are starting to cry uncle. My brown shoes are still in relatively good shape, from a structural standpoint. But they kind of look like they have been given to a wolverine as a chew toy. And let’s be honest – wolverine chew toys don’t exactly exude professionalism. My black shoes are another matter. They are still shiny and sharp looking. However, the sole has come loose, so if I am sitting and cross my legs, the sole just flaps there, looking like a big black tongue wagging down from my foot. As an added bonus, when I walk, the flap makes a nice little clapping noise, so it sounds like I have faintly appreciative applause following me around.
So now I have to go to a shoe store. And that fills me with angst. The main reason for this is that I have no idea what kind of shoe I want or what would be the most functional. So to counter this, I need my wife to be there to advise on the best choices. And that’s where it goes off the rails. I like to shop where you go into a store, point at something, say, “I’ll buy that” and pay for your purchase. My wife, on the other hand, prefers to actually research what is being purchased and perhaps do a little homework. This has caused some friction when buying such things as, say, a washing machine. And a car. And two houses.
But here’s the other problem – I’m exceptionally picky when it comes to footwear. My wife could easily go and buy the smartest looking pair of brown loafers in a size 11 and I, like clockwork, would put them on and say, “They feel a little snug.” Or worse yet, I will let her know that I’m just not feeling this pair of shoes. And she will sigh and question her decision to give me her phone number 20 years ago. Poor girl.
This will end the way it always does: We will go shoe shopping 42 times. Each time, I will be finicky and have a short attention span. On the 43rd try, my very patient wife will pull out a pair of shoes that I will try on. I will decide that these will work, as it will at the very least end the latest shoe shopping cycle. And I will have those shoes until they become wolverine toys.
Over the next few weeks, I anticipate my dear wife will endure this occasional ritual, and I will eventually have some new shoes. At least I don’t need new slippers.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.