Black Shoes

Yesterday was shoe day. The kids were all outgrowing their shoes and couldn’t wait any longer for new ones. Benjamin had been complaining for several weeks, while David was suffering in silence. Each of them has two pairs of shoes: one for church and one for play. Benjamin needed both, David needed new play shoes, Isaac needed new church shoes and Jessie needed a pair of sneaks for playing. All winter she’s worn the pink Barbie boots we bought for her birthday back in October. She cuts quite a look with her tights, short skirt and boots. Lisa and I have taken up walking together, so Lisa also needed to replace an uncomfortable pair of shoes she’s been wearing. Elisabeth got new church shoes a couple weeks ago and continues to wear her old ones for play. John and I were the only ones who weren’t in need, so we stayed home all day.

Lisa ran the kids out in two shifts taking David and Benjamin in the first run, Isaac and Jessie in the second. She does most of the shopping and is more patient and indulgent with the kids than I am.

They all came home with black shoes, everyone except Lisa that is.

I don’t think they planned on it; it just turned out that way. Benjamin and David got exactly the same shoe; Ben’s being the larger size. Jessie got a pair of black suede with three black “go faster stripes” as Dad used to call them. Isaac picked out a heavier pair of leather shoes. None of them picked the kind of shoe I am inclined to like wearing, but the younger generation has a different idea of what looks good.

Apparently, when it comes to shoes, black is better.

When I was growing up you needed white shoes, or shoes that were fundamentally white with colored décor. Everyone wore white shoes. If you wore black shoes people thought you were going to church or to a funeral, or they thought you had them as part of your marching band uniform. I don’t remember anyone wearing black shoes at school, nor do I remember seeing black shoes for sale at the shoe store. They would have gathered dust.

Naturally, when the kids came home they all wore big smiles with their new shoes. Each of them in turn told me they felt as if they could run faster and grip better with their new shoes. Jessie and David held foot races in the front yard. Johnny wanted in on the game and said, “Daddy, washiss,” (watch this) as he sprinted toddler style across the yard. He looks kind of funny when he runs. He has to spin his hips to get his legs going and he kind of jumps with each step. His bones just haven’t matured yet, but he doesn’t seem to mind in the least.

It pleases me to see the kids happy with their new footwear. I remember well the thrill that comes with opening that new box and donning your new gear for the first time. As they break in and get dirty for the first time you think back wistfully to what they used to look like, but feel a sense of relief that you don’t have to worry so much about getting them dirty when they already are dirty.

I suppose black shoes have an advantage over white ones when it comes to keeping them clean. They get dirty at the same rate, they just don’t show it. I hope the fashion continues.

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