I’m not making this up… “LFG, your foot is almost big enough to wear the smallest size women’s Belgian loafers. Would you wear a pair if maybe in a few more years I got some for you?” Her reply… “Maybe to a costume party.” The woman has decided tastes and opinions and at twelve years old, she now parses them out liberally, transparently and without so much as a flinch. From where her traits come, I don’t know.
So LFG let it be known that the only shoes…Belgians and huaraches… I packed for our recent vacation “embarrass me, dad.” I know, I know…a dozen of you have told me that this is only the beginning. She’s a bit weary of seeing me almost exclusively in Belgians on the weekend and my cheap, buy a pair every other summer, huaraches that for some reason were ok last year but were met with the tisky of tisk tisks last week. Huaraches? I mean come on…if they were good enough for Dean Acheson then they should be good enough for me.
Oh, and my fifteen dollar Gap Outlet bathing trunks/board shorts (The idea of me being in something called “board shorts” at my age is funny. Maybe bored shorts) she also found appalling. And I’m sure, based on the photo above; many of you will find them appalling too. So let me get defensive in advance. First, they were too long so I cut them off. “Quelle horreur” my not so little LFG declared, having aced 6th grade French with straight A’s all year long. Butcept when she expressed this while in South Carolina, I kinda figgered it would be pronounced Kale (as in the leafy greens) or better yet Cale (as in my boyhood hero Cale Yarborough) har (as in hardy har har) are (as in how are you doing?) Kale-har-are? Come on baby, it’s just a pair of swim trunks and we are headed to Delaware, not Capri. But still LFG declared that the only thing I could wear swim trunk wise that wouldn’t elicit that Kale-Huarache revulsion would be a solid color trunk. Listen, I’m coachable but I do need, like most people, specific direction on what needs to be tweaked.
And one more thing before I move on from the swim trunk thing. The record shows that I’d have at least another 150k in the bank if I hadn’t indulged in my sartorial passions. Wait, I take that back. If it wasn’t clothes it would be the Mercedes SL that I still covet or shotguns or art or a boat or something. Thanks. I needed to get that rationalization codified for the delusional record. But I don’t spend big money on swim trunks.
In order for me to be excessive in some areas, I must be frugal in others. Case in point was my lunch yesterday. Courtesy of CVS in Old Town.Y’all can buy those Villabaququi’s if you want to. I’d rather put that kinda silly money towards a pair of Belgians—that LFG is tired of seeing me wear. When was the last time you had Funyuns?
I’ll get back to the swim trunks dilemma in a moment but for now, let’s stay with the casual shoe issue. I’ve no shortage of other casual shoes including various Bean camp mocs and bluchers and canvas Sperrys etc. But the current LFG shodding arbiter sieve won’t allow any of them to pass. So my casual goof-off shoe line-up is suddenly in kidney stone mode. And trust me; I’ve had a kidney stone. When amidst such an event, you’ll do almost anything to mitigate the traffic jam. So LFG and I set out to a place that sells surf gear and sunglasses and flip flops and TOMs shoes for kids and Toad’s second to Topsiders favorites…Crocs.
Never in a million years did I think I’d be back in a pair of these. But alas, here we are. I wore these standard fare Sperry Topsiders in college when I wasn’t wearing one of the three versions of Weejuns…brown, navy blue or tan pebble grain ones. Literally, those were all the shoes I owned. But then I discovered Bean camp mocs and bluchers and dropped Topsiders during college. After a few more years of even fancier offerings courtesy of Gucci and Ralph driving mocs and Topsiders were off my Trad radar screen forever.
Topsiders just began to look inelegant compared to almost every other option…leastways to me. So why did my Bean mocs and bluchers not fall prey to the same inelegant designation? I don’t know. Might be something about the brown soles and the rusticated Adirondackness of them that left my mind’s eye settled on the fact that the Bean line-up in all of its inelegance by design was still less twee. I don’t know. Don’t press me on the issue any further. Oh, and maybe if I’d been a sailor, the classic Topsider would have remained in my cache.
Nothing against the classic boat shoe and God knows that my best buddy Toad loves Topsiders and has a gaggle of ‘em at all times. He’s sporting a pair of blue ones in his Father’s Day post and I think, without going back to verify it, that he gave one of his young’uns away in a seaside wedding ceremony…in Topsiders. And I eventually had blue ones too…when in undergrad. But they were Docksides, not Topsiders. Whatever that means to some retentive “get the story correct” boat shoe historian out there. Shut up. Blue boy.
So my LFG goes straight to the Topsiders at the store and says “here…get these.” I was mildly flummoxed and immediately sought clarification and validation from my little boss woman. “Yep, these are fine dad.” “Ok, are you certain that I won’t embarrass you when publicly preening…shod in these?” (You think I don’t really use those actual phrases when talking to my kid, don’t you? Wrong.) Once I was sure of her seriousness and clarity on the issue, the deal was done. Elegant? No. Functional and acceptable? Yes. LFG tisk-tisk eye roll minimization? Worth every penny of the almost seventy clams I paid. Cheaper somewhere else? Probably. But I needed to turn back the humiliation tide post haste. And I'll learn to live with the embossed logo dooky that now adorns them and didn't...way back. Then.
But we still needed to solve the swim trunks issue. LFG’s next charge was to look around the zillion pairs of board shorts and whatever the latest vernacular and brand centric truths that were on display. They had every brand about which I know nothing. Other than the Gap Outlet cheapies, I’d been wearing whatever running/workout/gym shorts I had available to me. Things aren’t a problem until they are defined as a problem. And to date, no one ever identified my swimming tog choices as problematic. Little five year old LFG didn’t seem to have a problem with my elastic waist draw string ditties from Target seen above. But then again, they were a solid color. And no funny comments about the left leg of my Target draw string ditties being longer than the right. We all have things that must be accommodated and coped with. Shut up.
LFG wanders over to the swim togs rack and pulls these out. Bam! Birdwells. Then the child thought for sure that my head had jumped timing. I was, surprise, completely animated and energized by my Birdwell recollections (You can read about it here) and launched into one of my storytelling autodidactilated verbal spews.
I was fueled surely, by the memories of my seventeenth summer which was one of my greatest...ADG the one hundred and thirty pound lifeguard is seen above. Thanks be to the good Lord that nobody needed saving at the Country Club of South Carolina. But then I caught myself. And stopped. And asked LFG if the Birdwells met her approval. Upon affirmation, I tried them on for size and we were at the register and out the door in no time. All’s well that ends well. What goes around comes around. We could cliché this one forever but I won’t. What I will say is that I’m happy when LFG is happy and our mission was accomplished…
…till we got home. “Dad, your Sperrys look too new.” It’s always something, no? So my Sperrys were brined in a sorta Delancey Street pickle barrel dirt melange for a week.
LFG and I have another week’s vacation starting this coming weekend and hopefully now extricated and baking in the sun, the Sperrys will be a bit, shall we say, “curated-cured-weathered-dirty-personalized?” Whatever.
Onward. Birdwelled. And not the least damned bit embarrassed.