September 22, 2009

Bigfoot. Runs Faster and Jumps Higher

The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor is anchored by a huge pedestal base, on which words from the poem “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus are chiseled.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

Like Miss Liberty, I am a woman of substance. How firm my foundation. Today when I went to buy new walking shoes, I learned that my foundation is not quite firm enough.

In my childhood before the Peloponnesian War, shoes stores offered service as well as shoes. My parents took me to Weick’s Shoe Store, a narrow storefront on the square in Columbia City. Indiana. Several gentlemen (and I do not use this term lightly) in suits, ties, and of course immaculately polished wingtips called my parents by name each time we shopped there.

After measuring my foot with a silver metal contraption with black lines and numbers (called a Brannock device), the sales clerk went into the mysterious back room and came out with three or four pairs to choose from.

I had a foot problem and sometimes dragged my left foot, and occasionally had to wear “special shoes.” (Just writing the term “special shoes” evokes the memory that I did not feel at all special in wearing them.)

At Weick’s my parents purchased regular shoes for me, usually Hush Puppies, and sometimes the Keds Red Ball Jets, tennis shoes that did make my brother and me want to “run faster and jump higher.” That's what Kedso the clown told us on TV.

Remnants of an era gone by, we have several of similar stores here in the Tri-State. My habit is to pay the big bucks for brand-name dress shoes, and buy my “tennis” at one of those stores where shoes are stacked like cord wood, and the clerks insult you when you walk in the front door. Cheap and worth it, as my Grandma Mac used to say.

My current aging tennis shoes are “wretched refuse of a teeming” shoe, with some splendiferous odor, and I “yearned to breathe free.”

Today I went to one of those old-fashioned shoe stores where several clerks jumped to attention when I came in.

The helpful clerk asked me what kind of shoes I wanted. Then he asked me a remarkable question: how did I use them? (I think that was a nice way of saying, “Dear, you look like you haven’t hit a tennis ball since before Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs.”)

I told him I wore "my tennies" frequently now. With my career change, I have a closet full of relatively new useless Trotter pumps in every color. And only one pair of tennies.

I stood in the Brannock device and the clerk measured first my right foot and then the left.

He told me that I was wearing shoes two sizes too small.
I was aghast.

How could this be? Again, the soul (sole?) of discretion the clerk said, “Ma’am, I think gravity might have something to do with it. (Another nice way of saying, “Dear, your body is like the ancient pyramids, sand is sinking near the foundation.”)

My elongated, pedestal-sized feet have an interesting characteristic. They are narrow, skinny, and slender. I had to use three words because it’s the only chance I get to describe my body with adjectives of that nature.

The clerk brought out the size eleven AA (yes, I said size eleven, do you want to make something of it?), and they fit like a dream. Ah, tingly comfortable feet. How firm my foundation! Quoth the raven.