What’s the difference between men and women ?
A man can pass a shoe store without stopping .
————-ancient chauvinist proverb
I have too many shoes . There are reasons for that . One reason is that I can’t bring myself to throw out old beat-up pairs of shoes . Who knows where the next comfortable pair will come from ! I’ll wear the holey old clodhoppers around the house . I’ll have to hear from Ada, of course : ” Why don’t you throw those ratty things out ? ” I guess I should have written that ” Why don’t you throw those ratty things out ! ” because it’s not really a question , is it ?
I’ll wear old shoes in the garden , too . Why not ! I have an old pair of running shoes that squeek . I wore them along the hallways at school and around campus until the squeek eventually became so loud that it was near impossible to keep a low profile . Maybe they’re not running shoes . Maybe they’re cross-trainers . I’m pretty sure they’re not Oxfords or hiking boots . Whatever. Now they’re gardening shoes .
I’ve been looking for a good pair of hiking shoes , mainly for those cobble stone streets and stone sidewalks in Poland . One needs thick souls to survive over there . At least , I do . I see others with their flashy tennis shoes zipping along and I wonder how much their feet hurt due to thin soles . But , it’s a passing thought . To each his own , I say . If they don’t mind and their feet don’t bother them , then all power to them . I made the mistake of relying on tennis shoes one time over there and I’ve regretted it ever since .
I’ve been doing just a little bit of research on hiking shoes . It seems there is a major difference between hiking shoes and hiking boots . There are what they call hiking sandals , too . I should have known that , I suppose . My usual research technique has been to go over to REI every few weeks to check their discount shoes rack . Almost never do they have discount shoes in my size , so most of my efforts are dry runs. But every once in awhile I find something . I have a nice comfortable pair of slippers that I bought there a few years ago for eight bucks. I should toss them out now . My toes have worn deep gullies in them . They were good slippers, though , and they’ll be hard to fling out as if they are garbage . Maybe I should bury them out back . Maybe I should burn them .
Sometimes I’d like to be able to go on over to Big Five when they have their periodic shoe sales and pick up a couple of pairs . They have cheap hiking boots , sports shoes , and dress shoes . But , although I still check once in awhile as if I’m Charlie Brown trying to kick that football , they never have my size .
When I was in ninth grade my feet stretched out to size 13 . I grew some in height too , but those feet caused me endless embarrassment . Kids would tease me . Adults would comment . I had to try to avoid any flashy shoes . Didn’t need to attract any extra attention to my not-so-dainty dogs . I remember having a pair of Adiddas with stripes on the sides . Those stripes seemed after awhile like neon signs pointing at my huge feet .
When I began teaching , my students used to kid me about my feet , too . For a couple of years there I was affectionately called ” Bigfoot ” . By then I had realized that my feet were , actually , a foot long . I would point that out to the elementary students . ” How many inches in a foot ? ” , I’d ask . Then I’d take off my shoe and hold a ruler up to my foot . Then I’d tease them all about how their feet were smaller than a foot . I’m pretty sure they’d go home with tales of that and some of the parents would think the teacher in that class was a nut case .
Then . In my late thirties my feet decided to start a little renovation project . The first phase was to spread out sideways and stretch forward another size . Within a few years of that , phase two stretched the things out another size . Now I need size 15 . Ada still doesn’t believe it , I think . She used to urge me to fit my tootsies into size 14s . Yeah , that would have worked several years ago , but times change . I have a friend whose shoe size went from 15 to 16 . He’s given me a couple pairs of shoes he bought too late to be able to fit into . He wears only sandals now . He’s given up on shoes altogether . I should ask him if he has any hiking sandals .
I have too many shoes . When I find a comfortable pair of size 15s , I always feel compelled to take advantage of the discovery . Size 15s are few and far between . But , on the other hand , I’m too
cheap frugal to pay much for shoes . I’ve just ordered an expensive pair of waterproof hiking shoes ( not boots ) over the internet , though . My hunting around town for a pair to try on proved fruitless . No fruit . Those shoes should be here in a few days . Free shipping . If they don’t fit I can send them back . I have a few pairs , still , that don’t fit well . I have a pair of hiking boots where my big toes brush up against the front of the boot . Just barely . ” Oh , they’ll stretch out . It’ll be fine , ” the sales guy said . Nope . Not true . Bad decision on my part . Live and learn . I still wear them on short walks and they’re okay for that but that’s all .
If I were size 9 or size12 , perhaps , I’d go into my closet and toss out all those worn out old pairs of feet-sheathers . I’d go over to Big Five , or anywhere , and get a few good pairs . I try them on first and take as much time as I needed to do it . If they were not immediately comfortable I’d leave them alone . I’d ignore the clerk’s encouragements about how much they magically stretch to fit once I wore them a bit . Maybe I’d splurge and buy hiking shoes and hiking boots and hiking sandals . If I find a good pair of slippers I just might get those , too .