Heavy Soles Had Us In Stitches


“My shoe!” I looked down at my husband’s feet, and sure enough, his shoe had spontaneously self-destructed, splitting the stitching between the sole and the body, and leaving his foot hanging out in the elements. My dismay was tied up in the timing and location (we were at his longtime physician’s retirement party, among hundreds of people, including small-town luminaries), and I didn’t notice his secret glee until later.
I could never resist a sale, and there were these terrific casual dress shoes with a heavy sole that he liked and the distressed leather look that I liked, so I bought them, unaware that they would be a point of contention for years to come. It started right away, with the first time he put them on and they seemed tight. In my mind, if the Brannock device that measures the foot says you wear a size 12, you shop for a 12. My husband’s feet, however, have a different notion, similar to that expressed by Truvy in Steel Magnolias, “In a good shoe, I wear a size six, but a seven feels so good, I buy a size eight.” Thus, Chris can wear anything from a 12W to a 14 and his feet need to accompany me on any shoe-shopping ventures.
Nevertheless, over the years, I forced encouraged him to wear the shoes to special occasions, hoping they would stretch and get more comfortable—the thing was, the events had to be foot-friendly: not much walking, no dancing, little standing in line, and in a venue that allowed him to slip them off under the table. Since events like that were rather few and far between, the shoes never got the real “wearing in” period that I had hoped for. In fact, they got stuffed to the back of a closet for a number of years, forgotten until a spring cleaning brought them to light.
I sat through the program of speeches, jokes, touching remembrances, and kind gestures, ruminating about the walk to the car with the man whose shoes were kicked aside under the table. Would he wear them? Would the broken one flap off his foot? Or trip him on the way out? Perhaps he could just wear the one good one and unobtrusively hop out the door . . . With a final burst of laughter and applause, the event wound down, and as non-drinkers with a little social anxiety, we got ready to leave.
Chris pointed out that our gift (a framed prescription Joe had written for a diet plan “No chips, no pop, no candy, more salads, etc. See you at 225lbs!”) was prominently displayed on the gift table, and I forgot to ask him about how he was walking in his suicidal shoes. In fact, I had forgotten them so completely, that until I woke up at 5:00 this morning with the question of where the shoes ended up, I hadn’t given them a thought. They were huddled in their usual spot, looking a little guilty for shoes with such great soles.