If you have never had the joy of shopping for shoes with a 16-year-old young man, I invite you to embark upon this adventure: Ask your dog what kind of shoes it would like. When he stares at you blankly, ask him then what size he wears. Wait for blank stare. Thus is life with a 16-year-old.
We had this delight recently when our son needed new shoes. He wears flip flops about 11.5 months out of the year, because those require the least amount of effort, and when it comes to fashion, that seems to be the teen boy bottom line.
But on occasion you need to wear actual shoes. Such was the case recently when we were heading to an event and our son needed non flip-flop shoes. My wife asked him if he wanted to go get shoes. His response was a long, drawn-out “Mom,” in which “Mom” has about 18 syllabes. She said she could go buy the shoes without him, but needed to know what size he wears. Cue “Mom,” but with 22 syllables.
In case you are wondering why we don’t know the size of our son’s shoes, it’s because he is at that age where he is growing at radioactive rates, and there is no telling from day-to-day what size anything is. Buy him some pants today, and they are clam diggers by the end of the week.
So my wife went to the store and bought some shoes. This is also a risky endeavor. My son has never been picky on brands and such, but I can also understand if we bring home something that he feels like no one his age would wear.
Alas, my wife is good like that. She picked out a pair he loved. And they were several sizes too small. He tried to get his foot in them, but it was a no-go. By a long shot.
Because my wife had already logged her miles on this venture, I told her I would take them back and get a new size. The ones she had bought were size 9. I asked my son what size he thought he could use. I should have asked the dog. I would have gotten the same reaction.
I opted to go for my size – 11. My wife thought I was overshooting with the size, but I rolled the dice. Having been on the fast track growth pattern in my teens, I know what it’s like to grow disproportionately and fast. I brought home the 11s. Perfect fit.
These shoes were gold stars for him, and he wore the heck out of them for weeks. And he got to where he would wear them when were tromping out in the woods. And that puts some wear and tear on shoes. While these shoes were still fine, he wanted a pair that was set aside just for school. Fair enough. I told him I could get another pair, and said we could go to the store and find some. “Can’t you just go and get them for me?” Fine. Yes, I’m an enabler. But it’s slightly better than being stuck in a shoe store with a brooding teen who would rather be fishing.
When I got to the shoe store, I started looking around and realized that there were a ton of shoes that looked somewhat like his shoes. I called my wife and asked her to send me a picture of Parker’s shoes. I approached the counter and showed the clerks the picture. Now, you often hear about the indifference of store clerks. These were not those clerks. They were aces. One of them eyed the picture and said, “Yep. That’s a (insert whatever the name of the shoe is here because I surely don’t remember it). Follow me.” In about five seconds, we had a box of the new shoes in hand.
I brought the shoes home, and they are a perfect addition to his modest shoe collection. I get that a 16-year-old has no desire to go shoe shopping. I don’t blame him. He’s got better things to do. Like wonder why his parents are asking him such lame questions about shoes.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike or at www.mikeslife.us.