Friday Frivolity: Have you seen…

“Have you seen my shoes?”

No, that wasn’t me.  I put my shoes away when I take them off.

It was Sue and we were about to leave.  I was standing at the door.  At times of in-climate weather she might leave her shoes in that area.  Often she sheds them near the couch as she raises the foot rest.  I surveyed the surroundings…none.  Not even a pair that she might not wish to wear for this outing, so I reported: “Nope, they’re not here”.  Off Sue went, muttering about just seeing them somewhere.  Off I went too.  Not physically, but my mind went back to a era when I wasn’t so meticulous about putting stuff where it belonged.

Whenever I’d openly utter such a question as “Where’s my shoes?” my dad would remind me “They’re not my size.” so why would I expect him to know where they were.  Mom would ask the obvious; “Where’d you put them?”  A mother’s words are often quite irritating in their profound logic.

In my adolescent years, my shoes, shirts, and jackets could be almost anywhere….school, neighbors, our hideout were just about as common a place for me to leave them as any room in our home.  But not the closet where they belonged.  The closet was a fail-safe.  It was the location of back-up shoes in case I couldn’t find the ones I wanted.

My adolescence was pre-NIKE.  Actually pre-anything except oxfords or crepe soles.  Oh, sure, I had “tennis shoes”.  Converse Hightops, but they were for gym floors only.  I recall having only 3 pair of shoes which could be worn “outside” — Good, school and play.  The trick was to try to get my school shoes past my mom when I couldn’t find my play shoes.  I’d strategically wait in my bedroom until she went to the kitchen.

The path from bedroom to front door was out of her line of sight.  With the stealth of a lion on the hunt, I’d slink toward escape.  From the kitchen “blind”, big-game hunter mom would take aim.  More often than not, just about the moment I reached for the front door she’d holler; “You’re not going to wear those shoes to play in.”  Shot down in my tracks.

Did I mention how irritating my mom’s profound logic could be.

Back to real time.  Sue is still wandering and muttering about where she didn’t leave her shoes.  I’m wondering why she doesn’t just go get a different pair.  After all, I don’t have my mother’s logic so she could wear most any shoes and I wouldn’t know if they were play shoes or not.

Finally, she returns with a pair of shoes.  As she sits to put them on, I inquire about where she finally found them.  With a sheepish smirk she answers.  “I hate when I can’t find them, and they end up where they belong.”  For me, where they belong is rarely a problem.  Generally, for Sue, that’s the last place to check.  But then, isn’t everything in the last place you’d look for it.

Friday Frivolity: Age Turning?

Why is it that we commonly refer to a birthday as “Turning” a particular age?  Even considering my convoluted mental processing, I cannot ever recall any noticeable turn during any of the celebrations of my birth.  I went straight through the day without any noticeable corner at the precise time of my birth.

So if aging is such a slow, nearly imperceptible arching rather than turns, why do we remember so many age benchmarks?  Very often, I hear birthday celebrants wish they were some other age again.  I thought maybe I’d embark on that delusional retrospect into my age benchmarks.  What age would I like to have remained?

The first obvious stop was One year old.  I looked at a few pictures.  It looked quite inviting to me to loll around in a swing that played music.  Hmmm, why does the music not keep the same metronomic beat as the ratcheting swing spring?  Ahh, but that’s an adult recollection.  I didn’t ponder that anomaly at one year old.

Fact is I didn’t ponder much of anything.  I got just about everything that I wanted.  At least I think I did.  However, that’s the problem with being One…you can’t remember much.  Hmmm.  That’s not much different than today.  I guess I don’t need to be One.  I’m sure I’ve got about everything I want….I just can’t remember where I put it.

I can remember 10, though.  Except for taking out the trash and doing dishes, I had no responsibilities.  Gee, wouldn’t that be great era to languish in.  Come to think of it, I’m not particularly responsible now, and still take out the trash and help with dishes.  So 10 doesn’t really hold much of an advantage over today.

How about the teen years?  Oh, now there’s an age to be.  There’s definitely a tempting mystique about being a footloose and fancy free youth.  Yet even those foolhardy years had drawbacks.

Girlfriends…or lack thereof, was a constant and often overwhelming challenge for me.  And so was wrestling.  No, not with the girls—fat chance of that happening.  Actually, for me, it was a slim chance.  Yet slim did keep me wrestling against boys my size.  Being small was certainly not a disadvantage in the sport of wrestling.

Diminutive size was definitely a disadvantage in all my other athletic endeavors.  My body took a severe beating in most every sport I tried.  Low and behold, today my body takes a beating in about every game of softball I play.  So, why should I desire to be a skinny teen?

Oh, for the glory years of post teen.  Twenty would surely be the age to be.  Independence at last.  Free to do as I please, when I please.  So why did I choose to renounce that liberty and go to college with its restrictive scheduling, required attendance, obligatory studying and incessant testing. Not to mention hectic pace.  Why would I want to trade the leisure of my current retirement for that constraining regimen.  Besides, even at my age I can still have an “all-nighter”.  Of course, in my college days that meant staying up all night.  Now?  it is NOT getting up all night.

You know, now that I contemplate my past, it was certainly filled with wondrous moments, yet I’m not so certain I want to repeat any year of my life.  I suppose that’s what they mean by the “Myth of Nostalgia”.  Our wistful thoughts of our past are often filled with grandeur, yet with closer reflection, our life then was not without drawbacks.  I think I shall very happily turn all future age changes without yearning to go anywhere else than around the corner and onward.

Obsolescence

I had to take back my purchase of a DVD/VCR.    We had to return it because it didn’t have a tuner.  Before you consider some wise remark about unwise men not reading labeling on the box, I did.  The large print features helped me choose which one to purchase.  My progressive lens glasses do help me see the fine print, but who reads that in the store.  Oh, and the large text did not include:  – No tuner.  The last time I bought a VCR they all had tuners. Seriously?  What is the R for?

But then, what are all those other acronyms for?  There’s more letters on the sides of those cartons than in a box of Alphabits.  QAM SQPB HDMI iLink(R) and Khz must be important to someone, but to me it’s gibberish.  I’m electronically illiterate.  I can’t keep pace with technology.  It’s kinda like what transistors did to my vacuum tube Dad.

[CAUTION:  What follows is not approved for children under the age of 65] I can remember my father wigglin’ tubes in the TV when the vertical-hold didn’t.  And, when the picture would irreverently flop to a 45 degree slant in the midst of “Today’s News Today”, he’d jerk out a few likely culprits and head for a tube tester.

He didn’t know enough about electronics to get my Mr. Wizard crystal set to work, yet he was a master of tube diagnosis.  “…oh, yeah, son…see this darkening near the tri-diode interceptor.  This baby’s the problem.  Probably won’t even wiggle the needle down at the drugstore.”

I also remember his chagrin when we bought our first Solid State TV.  Solid state, auto-fine-tuning, left him with no knobs to tweak or tubes to wiggle.  Well, Pop, I now know how you felt.  Technology today is on an even faster track for me.  No tuner in a VCR.  Who ever heard of such a thing.  And what’s a 32 bit upscaler to 1080i?  All I want to do is tape the drag races.

Sue say’s that’s probably not going to be possible much longer.  VCR’s are about obsolete.  Obsolete?  You mean we won’t be able to watch all those videos we bought at rummage sales?  Hey, I remember when Laser Disks tried to replace VHS tapes in the late 70’s.  FAIL.  Now it looks like the laser’s little cousin, DVD, is finally gonna do it.

Oh, my, all those tapes…relics.  Relics just like the 45’s, 8 Tracks and audio cassettes gathering dust in the basement.  Relics just like me.

You know what?  I feel a pity party coming on.  Anyone want to stop by and commiserate.  Got any Blues on an LP?  I think my phonograph still works.

Friday Frivolity: I remember when…

Mark Twain once uttered; When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon it shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened”. 

I believe he’s not alone.  And always has been.  Every generation seems susceptible to very distorted views of “I remember when”.  I’m beginning to think that Glaucoma is prevalent in most everyone’s mind’s eye. .

For my generation, it seems that e-mail exacerbates the malady of cloudy mental images.  I often receive forwarded missives from my peers to the effect that they wish to return to the glory of yesteryear.  Such as;  “I remember when we played hide and seek by street light, without fear of an evil minded passersby.”  Except that grandpa didn’t have streetlights as a child, he surely told my dad similar recollections of favorable times.

Another recent FORWARD suggested the present day pervasiveness of thieves keeps people from leaving home with their doors unlocked.  Some even lock their doors when they are home.  As I recall, my parents only locked the house as they went to bed.  They also were liable to leave home for several hours without bothering to secure all the doors and windows.

Today, I suspect insurance companies would hold you liable if your claim of home invasion and theft does not include broken windows or door jambs.  Mentioning this recollection from my childhood causes me to think of the many times we have locked our front door, yet come home to find the patio door not only unlocked but open.  However, that’s due to different mental malady I am plagued with and not my distorted visions of the past.  Indeed, I may fall prey to forgetfulness and oversight, but I’m not particularly susceptible to the myths of nostalgia.

I don’t think I have glaucoma in my mind’s eye.  I see kids today removing their shoes to put on boots and remember the goulashes I wore.  My vision of wearing those clod-hoppers is clear and I wouldn’t wish it on any of my grandkids.

I mean, who cold run in those oversized rubber monstrosities.  I think mine were hand me downs from Goliath.  Sure my shoes easily fit inside.  They also had enough room to easily slip back out in the middle of a snow pile.  What do you mean …why was I walking in the snow pile rather than on the shoveled walk?

Isn’t that why they shovel walks?  Little boys need man made Everests to climb.

Of course, my boots would not likely have come off if I had buckled them.  Hmmm, I suspect, if I had buckled them, I would not have tripped quite so often, either.  Those buckles exceeded the laws of probability in frequency of self latching to the opposite boot.  At the moment, I can almost hear the flaps colliding as I trudged off to school.  Chink, thump, chink, thump, chink-link kerpluck…down in a heap.

So there you have it.  Two hazards recalled from my past that no child should have to face today.  First, incurring a father’s ire while searching long stretches of curbside mountain ranges for a lost boot that I was rarely sure of exactly which pile had contemptuously claimed it.

Second, and quite possibly worse, the embarrassment of unceremonious tumbles.  Where were the consumer warnings?  Not that TRIP HAZZARD warnings on boot soles would have precluded disconcerting dives from abrupt latching of boot clasps.  Haste most always had precedence over mom’s admonitions to BE CAREFUL.

My childhood experiences with galoshes are but one example of the Myth of Nostalgia.  We often think we had it better back then.  In many ways, we did.  But, you know what?  I’m glad this generation doesn’t fear small pox or polio …or black, rubber, way-too-big, buckle up, overshoes.

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.