The Good, the Old and the Retired

Example of EJ's dress shoes from the 1920s

Pat (my husband) does not believe in tennis shoes or running shoes or athletic shoes — or whatever you want to call them today.  The world was a much simpler place when you just said you were going to put on your tennis shoes and everyone knew what you meant — now you have to explain if you are wearing your cross-trainers, your walking shoes, your basketball shoes, or even your canvas shoes.  Well, whatever kind of shoes you are talking about — Pat will not wear anything but his good work shoes – or sometimes hiking boots — but never tennis shoes. 

This means that when it is time to mow the lawn, wash the car, walk the dog or even run on the treadmill — he simply takes off his ‘good’ work shoes and puts on his ‘old’ work shoes.  His old work shoes are previously good work shoes where the sole of the shoe is barely hanging on and the heel is so worn out it is as flat as the rest of the shoe.  The shoelaces are not really shoelaces any longer – just the remnants of something that used to be a shoelace but has been broken and pulled tight so many times, it is merely a long string that happens to be attached to a larger bunch of strings that have been pushed through the eyelets of the shoe.

Pat knows it’s time to replace his old work shoes when his good work shoes start looking a little worn.  The old work shoes are retired — not actually thrown away — kept in the closet in case Pat ever needs them – just in case.  The good work shoes now become the shoes which will be taken on long walks in the woods, into the creek to go fishing and over to the gym for a good work out on the treadmill.  Pat insists that although the shoes are a little worn (no tread on the bottom and the heels are lopsided), they are not ready to be retired — they are just getting broken-in and starting to be really comfortable.  This might also explain why there are at least four pairs of ‘retired’ old shoes in the closet which Pat just can’t seem to discard.

Pat bought a new pair of work shoes today – so it is time for his good work shoes to become his old work shoes and his old work shoes to become his retired old work shoes.  He buys the exact same kind of shoes every time — so the only way to tell which shoes are the good versus the old versus the retired is to look at the bottom of the shoe and the shoelaces.  If there is still tread on the shoes and the shoelaces are intact — they are his good work shoes.  If the heel is lopsided, there is no tread and the shoelaces still make it through all the eyelets – they are his old work shoes.  If the heel is worn through, there is a hole in the sole and the shoelaces have knots in them to hold them together – they are his retired old shoes.

I shouldn’t be surprised that he keeps his shoes this way — after all, this is the man who has a set of 1964 encyclopedias in the garage along with parts of swingsets, various old lamps and auto parts — just in case.


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