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  • Mand Paskuski

Old Loafers

They say "best foot forward" but what happens to the other shoe? And how does one decide which foot is best? That's favouritism of the feet. I'm right-handed, does that make me right-footed? Wrong-footed?

Worst foot forward...

But you see, Duckie, I love these old loafers - they've been with me so long. They're soft and comfortable and I know they've got holes in the heels but we didn't buy them for stability in the first place, did we? Did we? They're smelly, greasy, worn-out old things with no sole... no soul, but damnit when I slip back into them they sure are warm and sharp. They feel like coming home and yet there's a deep emptiness round the ankles where it should fit snug and hug me tight - stretched 'em too far perhaps, too wide and I can't fix the strains they show now. You can see their color faded and the tops are sunken in.

The right one is different than the left. The left has a will of its own and gets lost often in this old house of mine. Bless her, the right little loafer is a constant, resting at the foot of the bed, waiting to be worn again - to fill up with life and go on adventures and stride. When leftie boy at last returns, he stays a while, slumped on his side, distracted and disappointed that the right didn't find her way to him first. Stubborn. Stroppy. Steeze'd out with a smelly sock still stuffed in and a ticket stub crumpled in the belly.

And so it continues, two disgruntled old shoes drifting apart - together.

She right. He left...

My therapist said I should throw them out. She's not the first to say it, no sir. I'm to trust the process and let time curb the little pitters of my piggies wanting to pop them on again. I'm to carry on and look at new shoes and maybe even, dare I say, try a few on. Take a small step so that I might take a big one.

The new ones are pretty, I have to admit. Tempting and shiny in the windows. One pair looks so fine and dandy I can hardly believe they're real. Brown leather wing-tipped wonders, never been worn in or out, never been scuffed by life's cruel obstacles and no holes so far as I can see. Happy shoes for happy feet. I wouldn't want to scrape, stain or stink them up. My feet still smell like loafer, Duckie. I pick them up and put them down, gawking from a distance. Maybe one day I'll be worthy of Brown Leather Wing-Tips.

I need a pedicure, some socks and a toe ring first. Ooh la la.

Another pair are sportier, golf shoes with the little spikes in the bottom - used but in good condition. They seem not to've been worn in a while. Glum little golfies out for another chance on the green. I touch them and feel sad. I see myself in them and yet, I'm not the sporty type. If I try them on, I might become a different person, might lose a bit of myself. You know what I mean, Duck? Slip into a vibe and get stuck there by accident. Sometimes the grass isn't always greener. Knowing my luck, I'll end up in the rough. Catch me, friend?

The attendant is kind and encouraging, "You're young, my dearie, you're free to look around! Sample and try some on for size, you'll find one that fits eventually!" She has the plucky optimism of me before my loafers. But I can't wear my loafers outside. I never could; they always broke a little each time and so I kept them safe in my home, in a bubble, in a box. Safe away from the weathering world and from unkind eyes. They're not pretty, you see. No, not pretty like these window slippies. And they forget things, things like words, memories or holidays... birthdays. They're not dependable - never around when I need them and it's cold... it gets real cold out here, man.

Alas, I guess the more important question is: Where am I going?

Naturally, that will dictate the selection quite a bit.

I suppose I'm still on the road of rubble and rocks, hoping to touch toe-tips on smoother ground. What a slog this whole racket is, pal. A great slog. I know that where I'm going, my loafers can't come with me - my lanta they'd fall apart if so - but maybe I'm not ready for the bin just yet - maybe they can stay in that mothy old home and keep the mice company for a while - give the spiders beds to build their cobwebs in and wink.

Perhaps I'll stride barefoot for a spell - toughen up my heels, strengthen the soft pads and get a little gone.

One day, in the bleak midwinter, when the house shrinks frigid and the windows flake frosty, I might return to discover that dear little Right has found a way to thread a lace through Left and maybe they won't be so old and lost anymore. Oh woe, how I do love my loafs - My sad, sweet, sorry little loafs. Tied together by a shoe-string.

Yes, indeed that's a rather lofty thought, indeed.

Or.... maybe my free feet will walk me all the way to saltwater and sand and I'll never need a damn shoe again!

Oh Duckie, such incandescent irreverence - to fade to black barefoot in the sunshine.

Fare Thee Well,

Boom Boom


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