On Sunday evening, Indy buried her head in my leg and cried, “I don’t want to go back to school!”
I patted her head. I was surprised, I had to admit it. Indy was always keen on school; she had been so pleased that the new school year would begin the next day.
But before I could say anything comforting, she went on: “I can’t stand wearing shoes all day! My feet get so hot!”
“But your new shoes are so comfy,” I said, certain I was the only parent in Noumea trying to reassure her child that her feet wouldn’t catch fire from wearing shoes all day. “And I’m sure they will breathe well. You can take them off the moment you get home.”
“How about the moment school is over?”
“Nope. At home.”
“Fine. I’m going into the hammock.”
We have a troubled relationship with shoes on this vessel. Most of the time, we go barefoot. It is comfortable, it is breezy, and everyone likes it. But that isn’t possible on shore. Aside from the issues of broken glass and ubiquitous dog poo, one is expected, as a civilized person, to hide one’s ugly hobbit feet in a more pleasing wrapper when gadding about town.
But I dawdled in buying the girls new school shoes. This was stupid. I knew they needed them – both kids have grown more than an inch since Christmas – but shoe shopping is a nightmare. How I thought it would be better waiting until five days before the beginning of the school year remains a mystery. Because, sure enough, about a thousand other parents had waited until the last minute, too.
We elbowed our way through the shoe store. Indy quickly located a pair that she liked. Three sizes later and a hop around the crowded room, she was done. Just the way I like it.
I peered a little closer at her choice. “Greedy cat?”
Sure enough, that is what it said. A happy-looking feline peered up at us from inside the shoe. Indy proudly drew a bag out of the box. “See? I get a Greedy cat bag, too!”
|I’m still wondering what faulty translation software produced this name.|
But there was no time to ponder the mystery of Greedy cat. Stylish stood alone, casting mournful eyes around the store. I left Indy hopping in a circle around my mother. As desperate parents and cranky children pushed past and stepped on our toes, Stylish and I looked at every pair of shoes.
“No. No. Uh uh. No.”
“Honey. You have to try something.”
Finally, after great deliberation, she chose a pair. The shoe lady muttered the model number into her headset, and we propped up a bit of wall as we waited for a minion to appear with the shoes.
Headset lady appeared. “None left in that size.”
We tried another pair. No. Another. Nope.
By now, Stylish had gotten over her pickiness. She gave the lady a range of options, and, mercifully shoes arrived.
“Ow, too tight.”
“No, too long.”
“I don’t like them.”
I sat on the floor and looked up at her. I wondered how long I could keep her in her current sneakers. Maybe I could cut a hole in the toe or something.
“These ones! I want these ones!” Stylish wiggled her feet at me then strutted around in her surprisingly cool Converse knock-offs.
“Sold!” I said, not even glancing at the price. “Let’s get out of here.”
And that should have been the end of it, right? The girls had school shoes – everything else was gravy.
Except we were going out with my parents the next day, and every other shoe on board decided to self-destruct.
This shoe appears at the top of this post. These are the most comfortable flipflops I’ve ever had. And I have had many. But now I have worn them down to nothing. I know I need to throw them out – my left toe touches the ground, for crying out loud. But they are so comfy! Maybe I’ll wait for a second hole.
As we walked through the pools at trou feuillet, I felt something strange under my foot. A sort of flippy-flappy motion that meant either I had stepped on a large and unhappy fish, or the sole was finally breaking free from my Teva. I grabbed the offending bit of rubber, and the other shoe started to go. I made it to shore just in time.
This is not our first Teva-related issue. Honestly, you would think those people could make a glue that lasts longer than 18 years. What is this world coming to? But at least I still have all of the pieces-parts; now all I have to do is break out the sailmaker’s palm and sew the sole to the upper. Just like we always do.
We bough the girls new jelly shoes when we reached New Caledonia. But we should have known these were a slick and fancy version of the workhorse jellies we bought in Tahiti. So far, all metal bits have rusted, and usually rusted right off. The melty repairs split open again, and I’ve been reduced to sewing on emergency velcro. No. Good.
And, sometimes, the crummy little buckles don’t even bother to rust – they just pop off.
Ahh, my trusty jellies. I planned to wear these to trou feuillet. As I pulled them on in the cockpit that morning, the last bit of the metal pin in my buckle gave out. Calmly, ever so calmly, I threaded a piece of whipping twine through the strap and around the plastic buckle, around and around. I tied the package in a bow.
“Let’s go,” I said.
My mother looked at my feet. “You’re not wearing those.”
“Fine.” I strapped on my soon-to-be-ruined Tevas. As so the circle of motherly bossiness continues through the generations.
I am going to fix all of these shoes. I am. But maybe not today.
And don’t tell Indy, but I wrote this post barefoot.