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IMG_3408Some time in my past a revolution took place.  I was completely unaware of this swirling massive historical moment in my culture.  It made me feel out-of-touch.

My awakening took place in a moment in time.  There was a need for me to shop for a new pair of kick-around shoes.  They would be for times when the weather was hot and shorts were in order.

Color was a feature that did not particularly enthrall me.  I just wanted these new shoes to match the colors of Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall.  What surprised me was how much my expectations were to be stunned and shocked.

Normally, aesthetics are not a forte of mine.  I leave color choices to those who have a knack at design and color coordination.  These people never cease to amaze me.

They explain why they chose certain colors to match with others and it perfectly makes sense.  Or least I am so confused I nod in agreement just to expedite the conversation.  After all, grey and black are colors too are they not?  Even fancy color names can handle the never ending conversations around design.  Names like gunmetal, battleship grey or raven black make a lot of sense to me.

My hunt for a new pair of kick-around shoes began at the local sporting goods store.  When I arrived at the Men’s shoe department, what filled up my senses almost took my breath away.  Colors of the rainbow stunned my visual senses.

Frankly, I looked for a sign to verify that these were in fact men’s shoes.  Every color especially bright and pastel selections dominated one shoe or another.  Florescent colors were very evident too.

Maybe the bright colors were to shield your eyes from the prices.  I wanted a new pair of shoes not a second car.  Who on earth can budget for shoe money like these?

Dominant colors were not the only surprises.  Pastels were all over the selection grid as well.  Pink was even a highlight for some shoes.

It took a while for me to find some options.  Two sales personnel asked if they could be of assistance.  They were young kids asking out of obligation.

“Point me to the MEN’S black shoes with silver highlights,” I requested.  They both looked dazed as if I had asked them to solve the problem of world hunger.  Oh well, after poking around I found my new shoes in basic silver with black highlights and in my size off in a lonely section of the store.  They were not on sale.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Have you noticed the difference between women’s shoe departments and men’s shoe departments?  Does size give you a hint?  Does busyness give you a further hint?

I was observing recently all of the glitz and glamour associated with women’s shoes.  Of course I zeroed in on a few pair of shoes that were close enough for me to pick up, study and wonder.  It left me puzzled.

Of course it must be a guy thing to shake our head in wonder.  How could so little material represented in a woman’s Spring fashion possibly cost so much?  Are shoes that claim some exotic origin really command such prices?

If a shoe is made in Italy, then are they better?  Oh, I should qualify, if they are designed in Italy, made in China, packaged in Mexico and marketed in India are they better as an international product compared to simplicity of being manufactured in the good ol’ USA.  This isn’t anything more than simple economics to me.

Yes, on behalf of all the men of the world, what is it that draws women to shoes?  Are they so cute that a girl has to have a new pair?  When pairs of shoes are counted do they pass 50? 60? 70? more?

I need to be careful.  This is soggy ground.  Honestly, though I am not against women having a collection of footwear.  It just has me curious, that’s all, really!

The number of sales people in the Women’s Shoe Department is like an army compared to the Men’s Shoe Department.  They are much friendlier too.  I wonder if the men’s shoe sales guys are sucking lemons.

The most common word that I hear in the Women’s Shoe Department is “cute”.  Two or more women who are shopping together encourage each other with that singular word.  It is repeated often with different inflections for variety sake I’m sure.

“Comfort” isn’t a common term used in this place of varied footwear.  In my out-to-lunch opinion so many of the shoes look completely UNcomfortable.  Toes are squeezed, heels are lifted into the sky and textures are very strange.  But, I’m just a lost novice with too many questions.

There was a day when I sold women’s shoes for a living.  Even then I learned what I needed to sell shoes, which I did sell more than my quota each month.  But, I never learned the answer to my questions; so I was left only to wonder, marvel and theorize some more.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

A few years ago I sprained my ankle.  It was an excruciating experience.  The pain was like none other in my years of walking on this earth.

In my left hand I carried a fishing pole.  It was a true tool for catching fish.  The proof was in my right hand. 

A switch from a bush helped me carry my trophy.  It was a 17” brown trout, the first brownie that I have ever caught in my life.  I was hungry for more.

While I kept an eye on the river for a likely spot to wet my line, I followed a faint trail through the tall grass.  Then, the dew laden grass gave way to a dip in the terrain.  My feet slipped out from underneath me and my ankle folded like collapsible chair.

I lay on my back checking the most important things first.  My fish was still on the stick and my fishing pole was undamaged.  But, the pain in my ankle was horrendous.

For a while I lay still wondering what I was going to do if I had broken a bone.  Hopefully, there were predators nearby hungry for a meal.  Slowly, the pain subsided.

Carefully, I moved my right foot in a slow circle.  The pain was lingering but not aggravated.  Carefully, I put weight on it and could hobble gingerly.

Now it is two years later and I am still hobbling from that injury. My orthopedic surgeon said it will never get better.  Isn’t the word “never” a foreboding term?

I stopped by a specialty shoe shop.  Their niche is comfort shoes.  He was sympathetic and understood my dilemma. 

In addition to a quality ankle brace, he suggested that I consider a new kind of footwear.  It is designed to be the next best thing to walking barefoot.  This practice will strengthen the foot, leg and ankle. 

Since I have tried the shoe I have been feeling very good.  My ankle still occasionally feels the pain of the old injury, it is noticeably less predominant.  Walking is a joy that I have not taken for granted since my accident.

I ride my bicycle with these new Vibram FiveFingers.  With my ankle brace on I have even attempted a rigorous table tennis match.  Maybe there is something to the way God designed us in the first place.

photo credit: brucefong photography


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