'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
TONIGHT WE HAVE A REALLY BIG SHOE
I’ve been thinking a lot about shoes lately. No, not because I have a Dick Morris foot fetish or, even worse, an Imelda Marcos “I’m compelled to spend millions of dollars filling warehouses with shoes I’ll never wear” perversion.
Shoes are on my mind because (1) I’ve been tripping over shoes when I enter my house more often than usual, and (2) with the change of seasons it’s time to pack away our summer shoes and haul out our supply of winter footwear, and frankly, it seems like we need one of those Imelda Marcos warehouses, not to mention a pickup truck or two, to get the job done.
Whenever I walk through the front door and stumble over a shoe, if it happens to be one of my own shoes, then it’s definitely the shoe’s fault. As I lurch across the room, I blurt out, “Stupid shoe!” But whenever I stumble over someone else’s shoe, then naturally the fault lies with that particular someone else and not the shoe. As I lurch across the room, I blurt out, “Stupid someone else!”
I have to admit our house is loaded with shoes. And I don’t think we’re that much different than other middle-class families. If we were rich, we’d have even more shoes, of course, but rich folks also have special shoe closets, an Imelda Marcos warehouse out by the servant quarters, and a climate-controlled shoe cellar right next to the wine cellar (“Tonight I’ll have a ’45 Château Lafite-Rothschild and a pair of ’88 Bruno Magli tassel loafers”). In middle-class households, however, the overflow supply of shoes is stored on the floor just inside the front door.
America has become the shoe capital of the world. Our nation’s shoe purchases alone keep the global economy afloat. The current recession is due in large part because Americans bought 4-percent less shoes than expected during the crucial Christmas 2001 shopping season, and leading economists predict it will take at least three years to recover fully from such a devastating financial situation.
At first I thought the shoe problem in my house was caused by the three “someone elses” with whom I live. I suspected them because they each happen to be of the female persuasion, and you know about women and shoes, right? (Hey, I’m not being sexist. It’s a fact. Women have an irrational desire to accumulate shoes the same way guys have an irrational desire to accumulate baseball caps and power tools.)
Anyway, the one particular “someone else” I’m married to suggested I take inventory. Boy, was I surprised. It turns out I’m the primary footwear fiend in our house. (And it doesn’t help that each of my shoes is a size 12, compare to their sizes 5 and 6. When I leave my shoes lying around the floor, it’s like a parking lot filled with Ford Expeditions. Their shoes, on the other hand, are like a bunch of little Honda Civics.)
I didn’t think I owned that many pairs of shoes. But my inventory revealed the following types of shoes and the corresponding number of pairs: work boots, 2; sneakers, 4; golf shoes, 2; insulated winter boots, 2; slippers, 2; Docksiders, 2; casual shoes, 4; L.L. Bean duck boots (for all those times I find myself duck hunting while commuting to work on Interstate-84), 1; and dress shoes (wingtips, etc.), 7. That’s a full 26 pairs of shoes for one person! And I’m sure I missed a couple in the back of my closet or out in the garage.
The worst thing is, I already started my Christmas list. I was planning to ask Santa Claus for new slippers, new work boots, and, if I’ve been a good boy, a new pair of tennis sneakers. But it looks like I can easily live without those items (I just hope the economy survives).
Instead, I’ll ask Santa for things I really and truly need: a few new baseball caps and another cordless drill.
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