Our boy Yankee Whiskey over at his blog, wrote a great little tongue in cheek predictive regarding what some of his blogger friends would be writing about in 2013. Slip over there and read it if you haven’t ‘cause it’s really funny. In the spirit of gratitude and whateverishness for being included in his story, I decided to go ahead and write the story that he predicted I would.
But before you read my story, here’s what he speculated that I’d be sharing with y’all in 2013…“Maxminimus -The doting father with a vast shoe collection will post about the pair of shoes that got away on a missed opportunity in 1986 and he'll somehow have photos of them. In the post, he'll use "patina" and "wallup" in a single sentence and will combine "ain't no telling" into "aintnotellin'". In the background of a photo for another post, readers will be able to clearly see a notebook page on which ADG has repeatedly doodled "Mrs. A.D.Flusser" in pink and purple ink.”
Shoes in 1986: THE Pair that Got Away
Shoes. _itches and shoes. Most of my non-LFG angst and need for medication emanates from one or the tother. And this pair of shoes that in 1986 slipped through my ecstatical fingers…there aintnotellin what they’d a cost at re-damn-tail. It's beside the point now. But I can tell you this. If I’d a been luckier in ’86 and got ‘em—knowing how I wear (and wear-out) the you-know-what out of things that I’m crazy about—Roxanne Burgess, bless her soul and my first pair of LL Bean Camp Mocs, bless their soles, come to mind—they’d by now have a patinated wallup of patina on ‘em that would precede themselves—patina wallup-wise. I’m not sure how exactly that would work, the prescient precedence of preceding patina before the shoe and the wearer show up, but I’m confident of it happening. Ever so.
These shoes I'm a talkin' about. Powerful they were. Palpably so. Soon as I rounded the corner at Syms in Charlotte, North Carolina and saw ‘em I palpated my damn-self just to be sure that I wasn’t dreaming. Corfam? Could it really be Corfam? In ’86? I mean really. Stupid but oh so meaningful to me…Corfam. I’d just assumed that by ’86, this synthetic, hot rolled extrusion of a material that created ambulatory, non-breathing sweatbox-saunas for mens’ feets had been relegated. Relegated to law enforcement people shoes and high school ROTC geek dress uniform shoes for when the ROTC (Rotten Oranges Tomatoes Carrots (ha! lol!)) had to wear their all-synthetic head to damn toe, Gomer Pyle getup once ta week to school. Shut up. But there they were. My Corfam saddle oxfords from 1966.
After a finished palpating myself; (I figger, but really, amidst nirvana, who really knows? That ten minutes of tactile self-checking had transpired. Coulda been a hour) I began to palpate the shoes…mainliest reason was to double-double check that they won’t just a fig of my imagination…these…the identical to the ones I had for Sunday school in 1966. A pair just sitting there in my now ’86 grown up at least physically, exact man-size of 8-D. Eight-Delta in Corfam in Eighty Six. But why would I want a pair of synthetic a_s shoes that after five minutes on your feet had you standing in two separate little fish ponds of your own salty foot sweat? Surely I’d a moved on, not yet to the absurdity of Cleverley caliber pedal boondoggles but please…to a more natural, breathable and marginally less collegiate and in ’86, lower vamped, sleek shoe.
That’s not the point. (And chances are that my twisty-turny story telling ass won’t get to the point for at least another thousand words) It made no difference. I had to have ‘em. They harkened (that’s fancy for “took”) me back to 1966. The year of all things plastic and synthetically extruded...then shaped into a consumer product. This harken-me-back phenomenon, not found in all, but a whole lot of my material things, was in ’86 and is today—huge, huge, huge, huge, huge for me. Think Stony. Surely I wouldn't really wear them but one thing was for damn sure on that fateful day at Syms in Charlotte, North Carolina. I would be leaving that store with those shoes…those anti-artisanal icons of ’66 when my little sweaty feets wore their identical counterparts.
The ’66 model Corfam shoes…like I already said…were my church shoes. I remember wearing them…sitting in “big church” with my mama and sister, drawing army tanks and rockets on a Lottie Moon offering envelope with one of those two little eraserless pencil that strode like tandem cowboy six guns on each side of the offering envelope holder thang on the back of the pew in front of us. All the while Dr. Friar
preached to screamed at us from the pulpit, spittle flecked admonitions about the evils of liquor
and women and money. Butcept in a much smaller size of course. The preacher
screams weren’t smaller size...even though I'd tuned that sh_t out...I had tanks to draw. Nor was Dr. Friar. He was a big ole corpulent
glutton. But both the shoes and the pencil...they were small. Same kinda pencil…now
that I think on pencils for a moment...that the golf course people give
you with your scorecard before you begin a round of golf. And my daddy wasn't at
church with us. Something about liquor and women and money kept him from being
there with us regular. It still hurts.
But it was not to be. Alas. About the time I probably (I say probably because I was back in that trance-state of nirvana) had been palpating my 8-D Corfam finds…one in each hand…for maybe somewhere in the general vicinity of give or take a little here and there but really probably when all is said and done…close to thirty-five minutes, a floor manager who'd been rearranging mannequins approached me. Also, I’m sure I was crying a little bit. These were not tears of maudlin remembrance of my Stony year (’66 for those of you who ain’t keepin’ up) or tears akin to the ones that I shed over my daughter. You know, the kid I talk about under the guise of writing socks and shoes stories but turn it into some kinda "ain't nobody else ever been divorced with an only child" therapy session. Shut up. These tears were different.
Oh no, these were tears of joy. Rather like reunion tears…tears identical to the ones that those family members were shedding as they ran across the tarmac to hug for the first time in seven years, their Vietnam POW daddy who’d been released after we won that war. You’ve seen the pitchers. Butcept for me it had been twenty-one years (86-66=21 for those of you who ain’t keepin’ up or who hail from either of the Carolinas) that my Corfam daddy had been MIA or POW-ed (Prisoner of War…not POW like Batman fistfights) somewhere in a Hanoi Hilton of an obviously-not-with-my-ass parallel universe.
I also distinctly recall that that Alicia Bridges song I Love the Nightlife was playing on the Syms background music system. Well not background per damn se but more like from the ceiling. And to this day I find that song to be a sweet, yet fruit-forward, not too jaunty but let’s say…assertive…declaration…no, almost admonition to please, please…just for now…let’s not talk love…let’s just have fun…for tonight. Little did I know that Alicia’s lyrics would essentially become my post-divorce dating strategy for at least the first five years out of the Hanoi Marital Hilton. Then I became "Mr. Commitment". Here…read a sample of the Nightlife lyrics and see if you don’t agree with me. “Please don't talk about love tonight…Please don't talk about sweet love…Please don't talk about being true…And all the trouble we've been through.” See. Tole you. Or you can just listen to the whole song. I’d recommend, if indeed this is as important to you as it is me and you have the time, that you do both. But really, click on the thing above and really, I mean really, really, really, hear and see firsthand what I'm talking at. Really.
There are three things that South Carolina Rednecks love to do. Frig, Fight and Fast Dance. Butcept you’ve never seen a worse dancer than me when trying to do that freestyle disco type dancing. I’m a reasonably nuanced and adept shagger—both kinds—but I was never much interested in that disco dance free-form stuff. But chances are that standing in Syms with a Corfam shoe mid-fondle in each hand, my tear stained smiling face tilted skyward towards the source of Ms. Bridges’ melody, I was probably hittin’ a shuffle-groove with mild syncopated hip thrusts that woulda made Denny Terrio proud.
Everybody always wonders what happened to Denny. Are you kiddin’ me? Don't you worry for a minute about what happened to Denny. No offense but chances are Denny's doin' better than you. Be happy for him. Denny went on to be a billionaire restaurateur fella with a different business model than Chick-fil-A but similar in haterness. Denny had it in for the darkies. Chick-fil-A went after the limp wristed boys and flannel shirt wearing, Subaru driving gals.
Now consider all of this through the eyes of that Syms floor manager now standing beside me tapping on my right shoulder when I came back up from just one of my surely abundant syncopated I Love the Nightlife, disco shoulder dips. These are the kinds of customer interactions for which no Syms manager training program role-play prepares these name badge wearing, proud of their power to supervise, Supervisors. Looking back on all of this, I kinda feel sorry for the feller. I think it was a feller. Should he call an ambulance in the spirit of kindness or the Mecklenburg County S.W.A.T. team? (Special Weapons and Tactics for those of you who ain’t keepin’ up) Let me just end this story by letting you know that said floor manager and some Paul Blart Mall Cop kinda rent-an-officer guy put a GI Joe with the Kung Fu grip on me and tossed me into public. Public being…me and the anywhere but in that store, universe. Universe being…till I got my wits about me and picked the parking lot gravel out of the palms of my hands, the Syms parking lot. Oh, and I didn’t have the shoes.
I walked back to the Syms entrance to do three thangs. Apologize; buy them shoes…and see if I could hear that Alicia Bridges song one more time. Yes, the song is that good. If their music was some kinda piped-in playlist from a retail store music service satellite station in Blenheim, South Carolina, of course I couldn’t expect to hear it again. Idiots. However, if they did their own party-mix tape for the store, I figured the request, especially amidst spending money in their joint, might be reasonable. Where you might ask, did I get the gumption to go back for another round of all this? I don't know. But what I do know is that the door was locked. Alas. (I wasn’t using the word “alas” in ’86 but…alas)
So I told my then girlfriend the story and begged, begged, begged her to go and get them for me but she refused. Not because she was particularly off-put by the obvious perverse nature of my attachment to the shoes…surely there was reason to be—but because she was still mad at me from the other night. We were having cocktails at her apartment and I looked up from drawing little army tanks and rockets on a Baptist church Lottie Moon offering envelope with a little eraserless pencil and gleefully complimented her breasts. Oh my good lord they were nice and we had been dating long enough for me to give body part specific compliments. Butcept I referred to them as hooters. I meant what I said about my admiration of them regardless of whether or not she thought what I called them was pejorative Or even offensive. Are you kidding me? I worshiped them. Both of them. They were almost identical...not that two of anything is ever really identical including the tandem eraserless pencils on the back of the church pew. And women generally say that one of their you know whats is the different one. So I meant the compliment with sublime respect but when you refer to a woman’s hangers as hooters, I’m a tell you firsthand, a buttload of intent gets lost in translation. No shoes. No girlfriend. Alas.
This story was important to me second only to the one I wrote about my drunk absent daddy. So like that one, this is the onliest one I’ve ever tried to write by hand and copy edit before typing it and putting it on my blogthang. But the emotion bought on by said handwritten Corfam recollections, proved to be too much for me so I just resorted to typing. Thanks for letting me unburden myself.
Onward. Towards 2013. Corfamless but armed with a lot a Lottie Moon offering envelopes and little eraserless pencils.