I stopped calling them shoes 17 years ago when life intervened and girly-girl footwear, particularly ones with heels, became a thing of my past. Since then, they've been hooves to me. Functional clod hoppers necessary to avoid broken toes (some of the time) and achieve basic social acceptability (most of the time). It is, after all, impossible to enter a restaurant barefoot and I doubt very much that the Royal Enclosure would have had me at all had my feet not been properly packaged.
When I was a youngster growing up in Kentucky summer days meant barefoot days. I never wore shoes unless I was made to. Once I had something like four tetanus shots between Memorial Day and Labor Day, to cover all the nails I'd stepped on (playing in construction sites sans sandals, doncha know), not to mention one puncture caused by a buckle (jumping off my bed and onto a belt I'd left on the floor) and various cuts thanks to broken bottles. At camp on Lake Erie I was often asked, given my Kentucky home, if: a) the grass was really blue?; b) how many thorobreds did I own?: and c) did I ever wear shoes?
Indeed, I was never a shoe slut until I couldn't wear them anymore. Until I went to college I think I only owned three pairs of shoes at any one time — Weejuns, tennis shoes and Sunday shoes. I have more shoes in my closet now than the sum total of all the shoes I'd ever owned prior to that softball injury all those years ago. If you put all my shoes end to end I'm sure they would reach half way to our neighbor's yard. Okay, so I'm not an Imelda Marcos. Still, I have shoes three deep on the floor of my closet. Moral: beware the come-hither call of forbidden fruit.
I'm off on shoes this evening because of two things. This is the first year in 17 I forgot the anniversary of getting hit by that line drive and ending up being Med Evac'ed from Nantucket to Boston. It was last week. On the 16th. The second reason has to do with Cajun — no, I did not buy her any paw shoes! I noticed it first when I returned from England: now, whenever we leave the house and her behind on the porch, we come home to find her curled up on her porch bed, a single shoe by her side. Invariably she choses whichever shoe is 'ripest,' usually the one worn most recently. Sometimes mine, sometimes Pete's. She does not chew it or molest it in anyway. She just seems to want it right beside her. Like Linus and his blanket.
Until now I always thought that finding comfort in shoes was a matter of correct fit, the length and width of toebox appropriate for the invading foot. Instead I learned that shoes can signify much more. For dogs, shoes are irrelevant and for this human, a fashion difficulty. But in our hearts, this dog's and this human's at least, shoes (or in her case, a single shoe) are solace for the soul.
Truffle: Chief Inspector Foyle's return. Back by popular demand and in a Netflix distributorship near you.
Quote of the day: "I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty!" (Imelda Marcos)