You Shoes, You Lose.

Saw a documentary about a pre-historic caveman not too long ago. Stuff like that is good for the brain. And I always seem to have some kind of take-away, some kind of thing that sticks and makes me ponder.

I wasn't necesarily interested in the man's biology, or weaponry, or the Yak and arugula salad he must have had before the glacier got him - no - what stuck in my head was the dude's shoes.

They were basically a pair of bear skin slippers and what I found fascinating about them was that at first, scientists thought that his real shoes must have been lost or stolen, cause who hikes the Alps in bear skin slippers? It took a survivalist (big beard, bad teeth, lonesome cabin) to recreate the bear slippers and take them out for a spin, only to discover that not only were they outstanding for hiking, but that they kept his feet super warm.

Neato right?

I love it that history points out time and time again that we didn't just suddenly figure things out. REI didn't invent the outdoor lifestyle, all it invented was a way to sell a $400 shoe that is almost sorta kinda as good as homemade bear skin slipper.

I was mulling this because it became my job to look for my son's soccer cleats.

The ones we got for him last year were a bit too big, but they should fit him perfectly now.

The reason they were too big is because we had to buy them last minute because, apparently, it is against the rules to use your baseball cleats on the soccer field.

I was like "Cleats are cleats!"

And I was wrong.

Very wrong.

Breathtakingly wrong.

And I may have been technically wrong, but I'm still insisting that I own the moral high ground.

Cleats should be cleats. Especially when the eight year old weighs less than a gallon of milk.

So, anyway, we had soccer cleats, but the problem was that we didn't know where they were.

My wife remembers putting them in a shoe-box and stacking them neatly in my son's closet.

There was no such box. 

Have to hand it to her though. I don't even bother imagining myself as an organized and responsible adult.

So since we're agreed that neither of us is that clever or capable, the only place his cleats could be is in the hall closet.

And in the hall closet, there lays a pile of shoes. I might even suggest using the word 'Mountain' of shoes. A Rocky Mountain Range of potential footwear that would have Mr. Caveman shaking his head and shuffling his warm bearskin slippered feet in the other direction.

There is no over head light anywhere near this closet either, so in order to find the pair of shoes you're looking for, your gonna need both a shovel and one of those miner's hard-hats with the little light on top. You could use a flashlight, or even the slight glow of your cell phone, but I do not suggest this because you're gonna need both hands at some point.

I don't know how the mountain got started, but when it was just a dark foothill, I think we all sorta gave up and just started throwing every pair of shoes that we didn't need right that moment into the haze, far enough back so that we could still close the closet door. When the pile gets so high that it starts to touch the winter jackets, I think we're just gonna have to move.

Anyway, because it had been a year, and because my wife was too disgusted to even look at the pile, it became my duty to go cleat spelunking. Which was scary because there is no gauruntee that there were any cleats in there to begin with. The ill fitting shoe might have been tossed in the garage, or left in the trunk of one of our cars, they could be with a grand parent, or, worst of all, they could have been hap-hazzardly tossed into the Mount Rushmore pile of absolute choas that is also known as Calvin's bedroom closet.

The last time we tried to circumnavigate that disaster, Joann lost a toe, and I somehow contracted malaria. The CDC has issued a travel warning.

Anyway, I opened the closet door, layed my yoga mat at my feet, kneeled, and began to systematically pull shoes out of the closet and build an identical pile in the hall way.

Two interesting things happened; One, I found the cleats and shin guards with relative ease. They were in the back to the right under a variety of flip flops and several pairs of snow boots that haven't been warn since Al Gore invented Global Warming.

The second thing was that I really really, super really wanted to blame my wife for this mess. I really wanted to write some thing fantastically cliche about a woman's need for so many shoes, but it was clear that the male half of our domestic union was the dominant footwear whore.

I'm trying to remember the exact moment I became Paris Hilton.

Now there isn't a human being alive that would confuse me with a stylish man. And the funnier thing is is that I make the best of every opportunity to NOT wear shoes. I hate shoes. I hate socks. I want my feet to spread out and chill like they owned the place.

And I hate shopping. I haven't actually gone to a store and purchased a pair of shoes all by myself since, well, ever.

But there I was, kneeling on my yoga mat, with my ode to Beau Brummel staring me down.

Actually, I'm a bit more utilitarian than all that.

There were my hiking boots, purchased in 2008 for a trip to Costa Rica. I only use them now when I'm out at the archery range. There were my brown dress shoes, purchased (I kid you not) back in 2005 for an interview, which became my only dress shoes for most of this decade until I inherited a pair of black dress shoes from my step-son. There were no flip flops (my go to) because the old pairs get thrown out when the new pairs come in. It's not wasteful, I just wear them down to the nub. There was also a pair of tap shoes from that one class I took back in 1998, and I also have a pair of golf shoes that I got for my 30th birthday and get to take out at tleast twice a year.

No, the real culprets were tennis shoes.

Pair after pair of nearly identical light weight running shoes that have never made it to the donation bag.

I used to work on my feet all day. So I had very specific footwear needs. They needed to be light, they needed to be black, and they needed to be cheap cause they weren't gonna last long. My wife, who is in fact a goddess of understanding, can be found, every three months or so, wandering throught the men's shoe aisle picking up and checking the weight of every shoe. People would give her funny looks, but she didn't care. And she always found the right ones. Almost always the same pair of black Nike running shoes with white or silver trim.

I would wear the hell out of those shoes.

And when I started to notice how deformed the shoes had become, I would whisper late at night for the shoe fairy to bring me a new pair.

And when the new pair showed up on the kitchen table, I would throw the old ones in the closet.

And I have done this for years.


With and "S"

When emptied of my old shoes and one pair of dirty blue cleats and two shin guards, the pile looked less like a mountain and more like what the bottom of a closet should look like; Cluttered but not terrifying.

Anyway, since I'm not on my feet all day, I wonder if this marks the end of an era? I wonder if ever again will I need such specific footwear? And if I don't, what comes next? Could it be possible to start weeding out the rest of my collection? Will there ever come a day when the closet contains nothing but a pair of flip-flops and bear-skin slippers?

Maybe I could invent a new religion.

One that puts sensible footwear at the forefront of social conscience.

Men will gather together in their Hawaiian shirts and Khaki shorts, barbecuing Yak meat, and the women will gather in the kitchen adding the perfect amounts of oil and vinegar to the arugula salads and talking excitedly about how tall their husbands seem now that high heels have been outlawed.

And when we talk, we'll talk about how cleansing an uncluttered hall closet is. And the news of the day will be about the painful execution of the Athletic department that insisted that an eight year old can't wear baseball cleats on a soccer field.

That would be a good day.

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