Every September I get the feeling that I really should be getting new shoes. The last time I needed new shoes for school was around the time the last Triceratops was hoping for the monsoon season. However, as soon as I smell of autumn leaves, my mind and heart turn to newly clad feet. I can sometimes live this out vicariously by buying the children new shoes, in the boys’ cases, whether they want them or not.
Built into the XY chromosome configuration is the desire to hang onto footwear when there are cool rips in the fabric and even cooler (yup, freezing) ventilation holes in the soles. With the 15-year-old it’s relatively easy: ‘Tough kid, these are out; shiny new leather in.’ Although he’s taller than me, The Force is still with me. Light sabres at dawn if he objects, which I would win by default as he’s never up that early. ‘Dawn, Mother? Explain this concept to me.’
The 21-year-old presents a greater problem as he gets very attached to his hobo shoes, loving to tramp round in them. Being more practiced at fighting, he makes me feel less like Darth Vader; more like an ewok. He comes up with all sorts of spurious arguments why he should keep them.
‘Ask me if I care.’
‘If I do something filthy like dirt biking or whitewater rafting, I need shoes beyond shredded, past terminal ruin. You wouldn’t want me to wear those expensive running shoes that you insisted on buying me, would you?’
Foul play, I call it, using logic and finance in the same argument. What was left of the shoes stayed, the proviso being that he had to put them in the washing machine before they walked there themselves, surrendering to their inevitable, fragrance-free future. Queen of the compromise, me.
A term of sorts has just restarted for me as I’ve gone back to Pilates. I seem to have chosen the only exercise in the world that you do barefoot. It’s a Manolo-free zone. Even Nike is not invited, goddess or not. My credit card desires remain unsatisfied, although my pelvic floor is happy.
In bed last night, I couldn’t decide whether to breathe from my chest, rebelliously enjoying my last night of freedom, or from my abdomen as guilty homework for tomorrow. Would ten minutes make up for a summer off? Seemed doubtful but worth a pop. Irresolute, I discovered that doing them alternately is tricky on the diaphragm and requires more concentration than I can muster at 11pm.
The closest I can therefore get to the Septembery feeling is to paint my toenails with a new colour, hoping the other girls in the class will be dead envious. No, it doesn’t sound likely to me either. Somehow shopping for a new small bottle of enamel won’t quite cut it as a walk past the latest high heels to the small inexpensive things counter. So I’ve decided to embrace my ewok status and grow the hair on my toes, dying or plaiting it according to my mood. Currently Septembery.
Alison Gardiner 2013