I can’t remember the last time I bought shoes with laces. Both of the two pair of shoes I still have are laced. Pictured here is the right left the better pair. Soon, if treating the shoes normally, the lace on the left or right shoe appears certain to break soon. Who knows? Another week? Another month? The those laces occupy too much of my heart’s mind in quiet times when I’m not busying around with the rest of my life. I’ve considered visiting the shoe repair shop five blocks from me to buy new laces. Total cost would probably be less than $5 for this shoe. But how would I know? These are the original laces. I can’t remember the year I bought them, but I remember the place: a nice shoe store at White Oaks West on the city’s west side. Over the course of about three years, when I had dollars for shoes, I bought three pair of shoes. The two pair of loafers which I wore every day, one pair at a time, lasted a few years (I got my money’s worth) but I hardly ever wore this pair with the laces. I intentionally purchased a style I would not have to polish. They suggest to me a style Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay MIGHT have worn on his final tramping hike out to California in 1912. (I have no clue what style he wore. I’ve seen no pictures.) It was a smart move. Every time I’ve recited his poems or my poems or played guitar and sung my songs or other peoples’ songs at a public event I wore these shoes. Now I wear time every other day.
To lengthen the utility of these laces, I rarely tie them tightly. I don’t want to be around when a lace breaks, though I know I will be. Sometimes I tie them in a loose double knot, but they’re harder to untie at the end of the day. I’ve never had to re-tie a double-knot-tied shoe. Conventional single-knots, reasonably tightly tied, I have to re-tie two or three times a day for each shoe. Besides being embarrassed if friends or strangers see me in untied shoes, there’s the danger of tripping on a loose lace. Even though I seem to stagger and almost lose my balance and fall when that happens, I know some day I won’t . . . and I may get hurt falling into a wall or chair.
I’ve discovered that the tied laces are not required. The shoes are not going to part company with my feet if I don’t tie them. I could remove the laces and get along fine, given how I locomote through the day. Even so, appearances are important to me. People expect to see tied laces on shoes intended for laces.
Appearances are important. (Here comes the promised metaphor.)
Anyone who looks at me — especially under my chin — knows that a soul has walked more than a few ragged miles. If I dressed the way I consider my life at this stage, I’d be wearing torn jeans and shoes from the Salvation Army Store. Actually, the shoes might be better looking than the ones I’m wearing now. All the pants I wear, my father purchased and wore himself before he died in the duplex we shared in 1994. My shirts are mine. One way I keep up appearances is by behaving as though I am what I like to call “a civil hummin’ bean.” I believe in civility. If there’s anyone I’d want to punch in the nose, it would be me — for allowing myself to decrepitate and disintegrate to the state I’m in.
Today, my clothes are clean and my shoes are tied. When I’m driving I try to smile a lot because I want those who see me to see a smiling hummin’ bean.
My life is a frayed shoe lace. I show some wear and tear, some white beneath the outer fabric of the lace. They’re okay, those frayed laces. I appreciate them for staying with me, frays and all. I (SLIGHTLY) worry about one of them breaking soon.
I wonder if I will break as well.
Live long . . . . . . . . and proper.