Yesterday, I got myself two new pairs of shoes. The soles were nice and new, all textured rubber and Vibram and form-fitting. One pair is even totally vegetarian: rubber products and cloth. I didn’t know that you could get vegetarian shoes, but evidently it’s its own category in the shoe world. Maybe my shoe-buying subconscious is trying to go green. I wonder even if there is any proof (probably there is) whether vegetarian shoes require fewer resources than leather shoes.
As I was walking out of the store with big package in hand, I flashed onto a memory of a ritual that my father and I would enact every time that I got new shoes when I was a girl. This was back in the days of the early and mid sixties, when they still made shoes with real leather soles. If you’re too young to remember these, a key fact to remember about your new shoes was that shiny new leather soles were extremely slippery, allowing you to have an embarrassing skid or two even on innocent-seeming rugs.
I would, in this ritual, head to the den and get my new shoes out of their boxes and wrappings, and he would get the pair of scissors from their holder beside the phone in the bar room. With each shoe in turn turned upside down in his hand, he would score the sole up-and-down, crosswise, diagonally from the left, then from the right. Always that order. Then, if the heels were leather too, always the case on those wonderful old leather loafers that I can never quite find any more, the pattern would be repeated on the soles.
This didn’t make a whole great difference to the slipperiness of the shoes, but they got a good head start in getting properly scuffed and textured and, my father hoped, safe.
And this was me and my dad, hacking my shoes. I don’t know if we have real leather soles any more, not if you’re not Manolo Blahnik or the like. Certainly, I wouldn’t take the points of a pair of scissors to Manolos. I have that much sense in my head at least.
So that was just a small bit of memory, and of missing my Dad again. Been a while since I thought of him for a sustained period.