Friday, April 29, 2011

Review of My Tennis Shoes

They're everyday wear. That means by definition they're grungy.
There's something odd to note about us
21st Century XY chromosome types.
Maybe it's because not so long ago most of our ancestral father figures were still farming the land. We act as if we've got mud on our heels and hereditary manure between our toes.

Just ask one of us guys to bring out our favorite shoes.

Anatomy of a Pair of Shoes
It's very simply accomplished, this transformation of ordinary shoes into exceptional footwear.

Guy in question takes a pair of pristine tennis or running shoes and beats the crap into them through vigorous use and abuse. After that, lace us up! We're ready for the next five years or until the  poor things expire like dead earthworms on the sidewalk.

In the meantime, for as long as possible we'll wear these many-eyeletted, shredded canvas terrors everywhere.

Of course, there are occasional exceptions to the foregoing bold modus operandi which is supposed to result in such desirable shoes. I must humbly report that my own tennie favs didn't reach their current state of near perfect degradation through worthy outdoor, athletic endeavors.

No fast and sweaty pickup games of basketball to break them in. No hikes through the high country where pebbles cut into the tread and glacial silt impregnated the canvas sides as I forded a rushing, ice-cold stream.

This was a kitchen accident.

Seeking the Perfect Shoe
It began with my wanting some walking shoes that were made in Europe. I had a reason. I was traveling to the Continent for the first time in decades and I lived with the unrealistic hope that I might look as little as possible like a tourist.

Here was the goal: To avoid resemblance to a blatant species of American traveler--the one who gives off the vibe of I'm an SUV driving, McDonalds burger eating, American Idol watching citizen of the  Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.

You know, he's all Yankees baseball cap and flapping cargo shorts and Bruce Springsteen "The Boss" T-shirt and the whole of it is shod with a pair of sparkling Tommy Bahamas or ProSpirits (Target brand).

The French invented an interesting shoe in 1936.
Let's say I'd rather blend in.

So I first figured out that black is a popular color in Europe, especially at our initial destination, Paris, where les hommes and femmes serieux se habille comme la nuit and fume beaucoup (apologies for murdering the French language).

"Dress like a Parisian," I told myself, "but defense de fumer!"

So I put together a no-smoking outfit of black jeans, black T-shirt.

Tres simple!

Then I went looking for a comfortable walking option, Euro-insider shoes if possible.

Spring Courts have distinctive "sole holes" to help
ventilate the feet., but we're not advocating you buy some.
Please see our "Endorsement Policy" at the bottom of this post.
There were some English brands (pricey) and then I found them. Spring Courts.

Invented in France in 1936 and manufactured there ever since.

Spring Courts are the world's first  tennis shoe with ventilation holes along the edge of the rubber sole. They are extremely cushy as well.

Spring Courts (in white) are what John Lennon was wearing to complement his white suit as he crossed the street on the famous cover of the Beatles' Abbey Road album.

But guess what? For a number of complicated reasons, not worth explaining here, I didn't end up wearing the Spring Courts on the trip. They stayed at home in their tissue-lined box.

The Anointing
So last June the three of us return from Paris and Rome. The trip has gone well, and I find myself ready to wear my new shoes. I hardly have them on my feet for a week when my pedestrian life is altered drastically.

I go to the grocery store. I buy provisions for the pantry and fridge and I'm bringing them into the house in those flimsy plastic bags the store provides.

That's when it happens.

The bottom breaks in one bag like a ruptured spleen and out tumbles something that from the sound of it hitting the hard tile floor I know instantly is a very large glass container.

It's a quart of olive oil.

I look down at my shoes. They now reside in a lake of golden oil. Their spiffy gray canvas sides are splashed with dark swirls of Italy's finest.

In that instant, my tennis shoes enter the mature phase of their lives. From here on out they will be sheer grunge.

Walk Another Mile in Those Shoes
I did try washing them. At first it appeared that the stains were almost gone. True, the heat of the dryer caused some of the rubber trim to start to melt away, but the shoes looked so much better!

I was deceived.

Soon those stains began to come back. The damaged areas of the canvas seemed to magnetically attract dirt. The oil spots darkened, turned brown.

Do I really love these shoes or am I just hanging on to them because of what they could have been?

Or am I trying to do what my father always called "get my money's worth" which meant he wouldn't toss anything until it had reached the point of decomposition or had converted itself into particles of rust?
Or could it be I'm futilely clinging to the romantic idea of these shoes the same way I cherish the notion I've always had that I will actually master the French language (although, let's face it, after much study I have as much proficiency in le francais as my dog Bullwinkle has in English)?

Or is this just a blatant guy thing?

I say any object that can provoke such existential, probingly deep questions can't be all bad. They may be ugly, but in quite an anatomical stretch they make my feet speak to my head. For that reason I'll rate theses shoes a solid 3 stars ««« - V.W.

1 comment:

  1. See, if you had been reading the news you would have known that this month, of all the months in the past 50 years, is an especially bad month to be outside. I would like to tell you that it is because the Dark Lord of Mordor has risen again in the east, but you would not believe me anyway.