© 2020

Sneakers

By Eric Anthony Kallins

I sometimes think everyone keeps some old, comfort clothes that may have a few signs of wear: maybe a few small holes from too many washes or brushes with living in them. I’m like that, and have t-shirts, hoodies and jeans with little holes here and there (but delude myself – aren’t holes in your jeans stylish? Or is that just for lady’s jeans?) Regardless, I may not make the cover of GQ, but I’m comfortable in my “casual wardrobe”. This goes for my sneakers, which some used to call tennis shoes, and now are called who-knows-what (?) I understand there are now conventions to trade “used” (pre-owned) athletic shoes, with collectable, limited edition shoes being bid up & down like stocks. And people line up to buy these new shoes well into the three figure range.

For me, they’re a utility item to shod my feet and walk in, comfortably. I may buy a pair or two every five+ years, only when absolutely necessary. Kind of like the tires on my car – I wait until a failure blowout, or a fixit ticket from the CHP. (I also do the same with my car – I think I’ve averaged 14 years on each car I’ve owned.) But back to footwear, my current gym shoes have a little hole near my little toe, funny but matching holes on each shoe. Since they’re dark grey, I find wearing black socks masks said holes so I don’t get too embarrassed. Stay with me, this story has an explosive ending.

One day I was walking into a therapy meeting. As I entered, my tennis shoes simultaneously, at the same time exploded off my feet. There was a weft of white powder from the canvass, and the air was filled with swirling eyelets, fragments of shoe laces, and a whirlwind of chunks of rubber from the soles. One man in the meeting looked at me briefly, then looked away, like embarrassed for me. But I wasn’t embarrassed, I was thrilled! You see, at that moment, I knew I had gotten every inch, every millimeter of use out of those shoes.

I walked through this explosion like the fog of war. Unheeded by the shrapnel of my former shoes, now swirling in tornadoes around me, I marched blindly ahead, knowing that victory was my battle against shoe obsoleteness. I had worn those shoes for every year, every day, every minute and second of their useful function. When the smoke lifted, I also realized that I was standing on the floor in my white socks. Luckily, I had a pair of hiking boots in my car, so I reentered the group with my head held high, without a care in the world. When it was my turn to share, I never mentioned the above shoe explosion incident. I had accomplished my mission.