I fear the end is nigh for a pair of dear friends.
After years of dedicated service, I am afraid my trusted slippers may need to be retired.
They have been faithful companions for almost 15 years. They have slept patiently by my bed each night during that tenure. They have faithfully protected my toes from stubbings during a late night bathroom break or snack. They have kept my feet warm every morning as I got ready for work, waiting until the last minute until I go Mr. Rogers and switch out my footwear. And they have dispatched countless cockroaches that have dared enter my house.
(Those of you who know me know that I am am a big animal guy. I often relocate animals to safety. I even escort spiders outside of my house, and have asked my pest control guy to leave the ones outside alone, which he does, although he did look at me kinda funny when I made the request. But mice, mosquitoes and roaches – nope. It’s war.)
I call them my slippers, but I know that some people call them house shoes. I cannot call them house shoes in an effort of complete description. I would have to call them house and dog walk and driving kids to carline and oops I forget to get gas in my wife’s car like I promised so I better hurry up there before she’s ready for work shoes.
Quite simply, these two friends have been faithful companions. But even the most faithful of companions will succumb to Father Time.
If you were to ask others in the this house, they have been in need of retirement for some time. For at least the last six Christmases, my wife has casually said, “So, have you thought about Christmas?” and I’ve responded with, “My slippers are fine.” And the conversation stalls.
This year, however, I think she was taken aback when she asked the question and I just remained silent. I applaud her for hiding a smile.
But I know that the time is here. They are threadbare, inside and out. The tops are dotted with stains, primarily, I presume, coffee sloshed from a carelessly toted coffee mug on a morning dog walk.
Inside, there is not much of that precious yellow fuzz that looks like fiberglass but feels like someone captured a cloud and lined the shoes with it.
Now, the insides are more like a slab of cold plastic, serving its purpose of staying between my feet and the ground, but unable to provide amenities beyond that. I know it pains them, as everyone knows devoted slippers can feel pain. That’s just science.
I have spent some time online searching for a new pair. At one point, I even did it while wearing my slippers, but I kept them well under the table so they did not know. I have considered going to the store and shopping, but then I would be conflicted with the desire to want to try them on but the eww factor of not wanting to put my barefoot where someone else’s barefoot might have been. And let’s be honest here, trying on slippers with socks is just an insult to what the slipper is there to do.
I will keep looking, and eventually settle on a noble replacement to serve the next decade or so. I will not be getting anything fancy. No tassles, not patterns, no monogramming. I need my replacements to be like their predecessors – basic, effective, efficient.
Once the replacement slippers do arrive, it will be tough to figure out what to do with my old slippers. Obviously, I can’t donate them to a clothing place because, well, eww. But it will be so hard to just toss them aside as if they have no worth. I would be tossing away memories of thousands of mornings, where they were always here for me and my feet.
In the end, however, I know what must be done. I will don my new slippers. And I will grab the dog’s leash. And the moment I step out the door, my wife will throw those bad boys straight out.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike or at www.mikeslife.us.