DISAPPEARING SHOES

by Bonnie Blake

People have often entertained the idea that inanimate objects can move, talk, and adventure. Jim Hansen was a marvel at bringing toys, plants, and even shapes to life. Disney saw nothing wrong with making, flowers, trees, and crockery sing and dance. TVOntario runs a children's show called Readalong. The star has a crush on a pink shoe. But, no need to arrange therapy, since he is a boot. This is no surprise to me. Considering all the anthropomorphism we indulge in, footwear has always seemed the most likely to me to live a life of their own.

I remember the year my son had to share a locker with another classmate. By the third week of September, his left shoe had walked away. It was not in any of the three coffin sized lost and found boxes, the mud rooms, the classrooms, the office, or the school yard. I know. We searched. And searched.

We bought him a new pair of shoes.

I think it's unfair we have to buy shoes in pairs. Why is that? We don't have to replace all four tires when one is ruined. I felt even stronger about this when my son lost another shoe before Christmas, the left one again. Talk about two left feet.

We bought him a new pair of shoes.

In April, he informed that there was a "small" hole in one of his shoes. I insisted that it last until the end of the year. Three pairs of indoor school shoes in one year would be outrageous. A few days later, he told me the hole was beginning to be embarrassing. I asked him to bring them home so that I could check them. The sole had pulled away from the shoe for at least five centimetres. Half his foot stuck out the front. I'd hate to see what he considered a "big" hole.

We bought him a new pair of shoes.

It seems the constant replacing of a single shoe with a new pair is not just a Canadian phenomena. My friend, Yuko, told that Japanese children are just as hard on their shoes, especially when they play the traditional geta toss. Geta are sandal-like shoes that people wore with kimonos. Children would play a game whereby they kicked their geta into the air, much like how we toss a coin. If the geta landed right-side up it meant one decision, if it landed right-side down it meant another. I wonder how many Japanese children over the decades arrived home with their left shoes missing?

Yuko, being a modern girl, wore running shoes just like Canadian children do. But that didn't mean she couldn't kick them in the air in a rousing game with her friends. Unfortunately, modern Japanese children have a bigger concern than those who wore kimonos and getas. Traffic. Her kick was a bit off center and the shoe landed in the street, just in the right spot to be crushed by a car. That was one pump with no more air in it! Her parents were as upset with her as I was with my son, as soon as they realized the rip and tire tracks on her shoe did not occur while she was wearing it.

They bought her a new pair.

I don't think they were as upset as I was when my son came home in June of that same school year with only one of his new shoes, the left one this time. Ah ha, I thought. I saved the right one from the second pair. They may not match, but they're good enough to play outside with. Unfortunately, they were an entire size different. They'd probably make him run in circles, just like his mother.

We bought him a new pair.

Somewhere, out there, two like-new left shoes have met up with all the other missing, unmatched shoes and are high-stepping in the dance of freedom. They've joined with the partners of all the shoes we see scattered on the sides of the highway. They've befriended the getas of the high-kickers. They've moseyed over to the boots of cowboys who only died with only one on. They've swapped stories with dress shoes left behind at parties and men's overshoes forgotten behind at weddings. They may even be partying with my best pair of black leather pumps which seem to have continued the New Year's festivities somewhere on their own. At least they both disappeared together.

I guess I'll buy a new pair.

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