I met a nice lady a few weeks ago who told me one can never have too many shoes. Imelda Marcos leaped to mind. My new friend is nothing like Imelda, whose collection of shoes numbered into thousands of pairs. Let’s call my new friend Patsy because it is her real name. Patsy let me know she was going to go shoe-shopping when she got her first paycheck because she had her eye on a zebra-striped pair of boots that would go nicely with the purse carried every day, the only purse I had ever seen her carrying. When I asked her what was the matter with the perfectly red boots she already smartly tucked her jeans into, she told me she needed the new zebra-striped boots, and that you can never have too many pairs of shoes. And so I couldn’t help but ask her how many pairs she owned. Two hundred, she told me flat out. An even 200. No more. No less. I did not question the roundness of the number.
The thing is, I don’t know how many pairs of shoes I own. I’m not sure I could even remember them all from where I sit this moment. I’m sure I can’t. I’m even more sure I don’t care. Of the shoes, boots, slippers, flip-flops, sandals and variants of footwear I do own, I can tell you four pair of them are Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. I’ve been wearing them for years. More than 50 years, to be sure. Not the same pair, mind you. But the style, both high and low tops. The four pair in my current collect are two of each: pair of highs and lows. One pair of low tops are the traditional black and white, left to me by my son. The other low pair are orchid with rope laces, purchased on eBay from a vendor in Hawaii who commented on my feedback that I have much mahalo, which I mistook to mean something like mojo or some special spirit about me. It means thanks. I have much thanks. So, either the vendor was giving me much of her thanks or she was indicating she somehow detected my abundant gratitude from her tiny island shop across half the largest of our planet’s oceans and half again across the North American continent. She was most likely being polite. For which I give mahalo.
Of the other two pair of Chucks I own, one pair is the traditional bland and white. They are the classic signature Chucks that even look good with a tuxedo. Oh, yes. They do. The fourth pair, which I happen to be wearing at this writing, are black on black. So black are these shoes that you cannot readily tell they are Chucks because the flatness of the color hides the texture and detail of where canvas fuses to rubber and rubber to canvas. And because I am conservatively flamboyant, these are thea pair of Converse All Stars I wear most often.
Of course I don’t wear them all the time. Not every day, certainly. Not even every week do I wear them. I’m confident that months have gone by without me lacing them up, wearing them as all shoes well-worn into comfort should. This explains why they’ve last so long. I have owned them for 20 years, at least. I bought them out of the JCPenney Catalog when I worked there as a writer. A 30 percent discount was mine. I understand Chucks have gone in and out of style a few times since then.
But this pair of which I wear, not so frequently yet on occasions not so rare, this pair stinks. What to do. Wash them? Dry them in the backyard air? Never before have I. But now, now, today shall I dare.