slipperKrushchev-boot“Yeah I left that ball, I walked out fast ’cause I knew the good times couldn’t last
I left my shoe so that you would take it but I kept my heart so you couldn’t break it!

The Nields. Tomorrowland

Two seconds out of the car, and on my way through the parking lot, I saw “her.” I’m not sure how anyone could not, and yet I seemed to be the only person in the vicinity of the supermarket who had stopped cold in their tracks and was staring at the woman who just exited the market. As they say, it’s not polite to stare, but I was just overwhelmed with confusion. The young woman was quite good-looking, dressed well, and had several bags in her hands; not unlike several others making their way through the parking lot; EXCEPT, she was tip-toeing in bare feet! She had come out of the store that way. Maybe she was there to buy shoes, but once inside got side tracked by all the wonderful bags of grapes, and just failed to get what she came for, it happens;  how else could I explain my kitchen shelf full of Ring Dings, but no soup. Forget the health codes, or the lost signs, and songs about “no shirts, no shoes, no service.” Even as a rebellious teenager working in a supermarket, who loved to disobey signs, I quickly learned that there is more broken, and un-swept glass on the floor of a supermarket than at a windshield crushing factory. OK, for argument sake, let’s pretend an hour earlier, she was walking the beach barefoot, hand in hand with her young man when he insisted they walk to the corner “to one of the best ice cream shops ever,” and get a double scoop of something exotic; let’s say vanilla. The only problem with this idea; it wasn’t August, and 85 degrees Fahrenheit; or Celsius for that matter.  It was very cold, and sleeting outside, in December, in the middle of New England. It was at this point that I could no longer contemplate what was going on here. Dumbfounded, and suddenly thinking far too much about shoes, I entered the market hoping to forget anything I just saw outside; it didn’t happen.

I was already thinking of it before I saw the newspaper headlines of the press sitting in the rack inside the supermarket; how prominent the shoe is in our culture. The foot being the part of the body that touches the “terra firma,” it’s no wonder footwear is so important to us. So much of our lives are spent in shoes. Anyway, the front page stories that night were about the New York Policemen who gave the barefoot homeless man in Times Square a pair of shoes. It was heartwarming for humane reasons, but I think what gets to most of us is how vulnerable a person seems when they are barefoot in a place not conducive to the shoeless. A man with shoes on a soft sandy beach seems odd, but a man with no shoes on concrete in the middle of winter chills us to the bone; physically, and emotionally speaking. It wasn’t long until so many shoe ideas filled my head. There was “Shoeless Joe Jackson”;  he is remembered for his performance on the field, and for his association with the Black Sox Scandal, in which members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox participated in a conspiracy to fix the World Series. Oddly enough, some pro athletes make more money on shoe contracts in one year than all the player salaries combined for the entire league in 1919. Next was Imelda Marcos who was reported to have 2,700 pairs of shoes; ladies, not the role mode you think! Finally, there was the Russian Nikita Khrushchev who in a speech at the United Nations in 1960 is said to have banged his shoe on the podium while screaming “we will bury you!” There is now a general consensus that historical facts, and pop culture may have collided slightly, and the accuracy of the incident is in question. On a personal note; my take on the subject is that it was the first time the Russian was in NY, and after some car troubles, he banged his shoe screaming “I’m not going to pay a lot for this muffler!”

Meanwhile, back in the market……..I start to encounter a man who for some bizarre coincidence, begins to show up on every other aisle I am on. Not unheard of in a shop, but each time I see him, he has his leg raised up, and is staring at the bottom of his sneaker. Once would be something, but four times with the fifth being the “Coup de grace”  culminated in the complete removal, and inspection of the sneaker near the pea section, in the frozen food aisle is just too much.  Desperate to apply logic to my observations, I began to check off the reasons for this situation. The first reason, happened to me when I was four; ants secretly crawled into my sneaker, and each time I sat down quickly, and tried to take them by surprise, they would escape before eradication.  I contemplated going up to the man and tell him what my younger self had learned from the incident. It was a condition called “pins, and needles,” whereas the circulation in your foot may be temporarily impaired, and you will never find any ants in your shoes. I rejected this idea. I decided my approach would offer nothing more than literary fodder for HIS personal blog about the crazy man who came up to him in the market while he was trying to remove a broken piece of glass from his shoe!  I decided my second theory was accurate. What was demanding attention on the man’s shoe was an extremely hazardous chemical. It was the same chemical that eroded the material of the shoes the barefoot woman from the parking lot was wearing seconds before, when she was force to escape the store with her foot epidermis narrowly intact. Whew!! Observation solved!

I think I will go home and run around barefoot in my bedroom……..but not the kitchen; do you know how much broken glass is floating around there?


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