Friday Frivolity: New Shoes…humbling

I opened my closet door to put away a brand new pair of shoes.  Looking for a place to put them, I realized how pathetic I have become.  I now have 4 boxes with shoes that only the left one has had a foot inside.

But this latest pair of shoes was a must.  No less than 7 family members were buying shoes.  You really didn’t expect me to be the odd man out.  Plus I would get a discount not available on other shopping trips, plus this particular pair was the last one in stock certainly indicating they were socially highly desirable, plus they were accented grey and I knew I didn’t have any grey “Lifestyle” shoes.  So, you can clearly see this was a necessary purchase.

I get the same kind of buying buzz at rummage sales…which is precisely where most of the shoes in my closet came from.  Trust me, size 12 is not common at rummage prices.  If they fit, I am liable to buy ‘em.  But these shoes were store bought and still in the box.  I could easily stack them.  Easily if I started a second stack.  Hmmm, that meant I’d have to relocate a pair of shoes not in a box.

Looking at my shoes not in boxes, I saw 3 pair of “Tennis” shoes.  Of course “Tennis” is categorical.  The last time I played tennis was against my adolescent nephew in a two-hundred degree blast furnace which doubled as a parking lot at the school.  He refused to hit the ball anywhere near where I was standing so my “tennis” shoes melted into the asphalt while I waited for him to show some compassion.

Categorically, in shoes anyway, “Tennis” is different than “Lifestyle” — that category is so new, all of mine are still in boxes.  In my youth, “Tennis” was synonymous with basketball. I didn’t play basketball either.  You’ve heard the term “pip-squeak”.  Well, squeak pretty much described my voice range when boys my age were learning to dribble, and we won’t bother to discuss where…or what…caused most of my dribbling.

Athletics was not my focus at a young age.  However, even though my size, coordination and quickness compared favorably with snails, I do remember having to get some “gym” shoes.  Converse All-Stars.  Canvas to keep cool during hours of workouts.  High tops to ward off sprains during sharp turns.  Rubber soles for sure footed traction.  All good stuff for athletes but for a guy who couldn’t outmaneuver a newborn giraffe, …well, at least they were cool.

But I digress.  Back to my closet full of shoes.  I used to think women amassed a huge variety of shoes.   Style, color, heel height, and texture are all of significance to my wife.  But, her side of the closet doesn’t outnumber my side by much.  I am humbled to admit I even have 3 pair of shoes in the garage.  But they don’t count as they don’t leave the yard.  Okay, so one of those pairs is mustard stained.  Except for the yellow smudge, they are still quite white so I wear those when I usher at Spartan Stadium — where condiment droppings are always a hazard.

In the closet, in addition to the 5 pair of  Lifestyle, Tennis, Training & Walking, soft-sided shoes, I also have 3 pair of loafers (one that I’ve only worn in stage plays.  Okay, so maybe it was just one play).  In the oxford category, I have 3 pair black dress shoes. One of those black babies is patent leather with suede “saddles”.  Oooo, they are for xtreme-dressy occasions.  Let’s see, the last time I wore those I was role-playing an elite restaurant Maitre D.  Wait, that was the only time I wore them.  Do I actually have to count shoes that I wear about as often as a top hat?

Did I mention the brown oxfords?  I really shouldn’t count the brown shoes.  I don’t wear them.  When I bought a brown suit, Sue said I really should have brown shoes to go with it.  First of all, Jenny Craig on South Beach couldn’t shrink my torso enough to get into that suit.  So, I shouldn’t have to count dusty brown shoes either.  My cordovan, tasseled, loafers should also be excused from the inventory count on account of me not having enough spring in my step to get the tassels to move.

Even though the space taken up by shoes in my closet is humbling, I really should only have to count the 4 pair of shoes under my dresser.  Daily I choose from comfy loafers (non-tasseled), black or white “Lifestyle”, and a pair of “Nike Air” shoes that is wearing out but the soles aren’t flapping yet.

Friday Frivolity: Amusement

One last story from our recent trip to Georgia.  One of the adventures the family decided upon was a trip to Atlanta and one of the experiences was Six Flags over Georgia.

Granted, for most people it is quite logical that the rides are the focus of their Amusement at an Amusement Park.  Logic has never been a forte of mine, however.  This illogic is evidenced by me, at 72 years old, feeling extreme elation from being jerked, twisted, flipped topsy-turvy and pummeled by head “rests”.

Really? “Head rest?”  Totally a misnomer.  There wasn’t a single ride which enabled me to rest any part of my body, much less keep my head in contact with the padding…also a misrepresented term…at the back of my skull. I certainly was not  floating like a butterfly… which is probably why I felt like I’d lost a heavyweight fight to Ali when the day was done.

My battered and bruised (what else would you expect from a guy on Coumadin) body is further testimony to the illogic of me being amused by a beating from Goliath, tossed mercilessly through the air by BatMan, and triple looped in a Mind Bender —  just to name a few of the rides I survived.

So, if Cyclones and Ninjas are not categorically an amusement for me, what is?  I think my greatest amusement might just be waiting in line.  There are always people in those doubling back lines who are able to easily overhear my driveling humor.  While slowly traipsing toward the loading zone of an old fashioned (not to mention old old as in 50 years) Wooden Coaster, I noticed large flights of Carpenter Bees.

For those who may not be familiar with this “Bumble Bee like” wood borer, it is anything BUT a constructive carpenter.  Of course, I felt it my conscientious duty to biologically comment about this particular specie of bees and their seemingly boundless excavation of rough-sawn timbers like the trusses of this particular, predictably rickety, antique, wooden coaster.

It’s refreshing to know that there are kids who gobble this information up about as voraciously as the bees do wood fibers.  My amusement is also enhanced by their secretive whispering of such information to mom and dad…usually accompanied by a pointing of fingers to reveal the source of this science lesson.  Even if I get parental scowls, they too feed my bizarre amusement.

Here’s another great way I enhance my amusement.  I declare myself as a “single rider.”  This way I get to meet new folks when the two-seater coasters are loaded.  I did that at the first ride of the day.  A young man seemed rather hesitant to pair up with me in the coaster queue line.  I tried to ease some of his rather obvious tension.  “First ride of the day for you?  I asked.

With his head down, probably in prayer, he acknowledged that it was.  I continued, “Do you like coasters?”  A pair of young people in the next queue answered for him:  “It’s gonna be fun, Dude.”

After strapping into the seat, I suggested to him that screaming is good for the psyche.  “I scream all the way through the ride.  It really helps me relieve the tension.”

All the way up the first incline, I screamed as both a demonstration to him and to calm my own mounting anxiety.  Wow!  A hundred foot, ominously slow climb, still builds suspense in me of what that first plummet will be like.

I was not disappointed.  My screaming heightened diametrically if not conversely to the coasters accelerated dive.  Down and sharply up…twice in quick succession.  As we rocketed up toward the 3rd precipice, my newfound friend was not yet screaming.  Fact is, he wasn’t breathing either.  I do know that he had not passed out though.  His here-to-for timidity left him on the way down from peak #2 and his involuntary grasp of my arm was tighter than our seat belts.

Ahhhh, but near the end of the ride, he somehow managed to let out an extended shriek and raised our tightly intertwined arms for a jubilant pose as ride’s camera flashed.  We walked to the photo board together and high-fived his conquering of the Scream Machine.

At another coaster, I made another friend.  Well, friend at least at the outset of our rendezvous at the coaster’s load station.  As we buckled into the car, I asked, “Ever rode this before?”

When she answered that she had not, I thought possibly I could lower her stress level if I demonstrated a calm demeanor.  “This is really a good coaster for beginners.” I nonchalantly commented.

She smiled.  “Good, I usually like roller coasters, but I’m not sure about this one.”

I tried to reassure her with a rather southern accent.  “Nah, dohn worrah.  They-ahs some excitin’ dips and twists, but ‘taint nothin’ in this coaster ta take y’all’s breath away.”  Hey, if I sounded like a Michigander, my credibility would surely have been reduced.

But whatever credibility I might have created with the drawl, it lost all validity on the way up the first, very steep, rise.  Looking into nothing but blue sky at the brink of the coaster’s 90 foot climb I exclaimed;  “Oh, crap!  This isn’t the one I thought it was!”

I suppose that those park patrons around me aren’t always as amused as I am.  However, my family, in attendance with me, seemed to have their amusement augmented by my zany verbal exchanges with unsuspecting coaster riders.


? of the day:  Is a shirt-tail relative one who needs to be tucked in?