New shoe discussion; Neighbor ships to Iraq

This weekend left me without a lot of desire time to write anything. That is of course not true, but as the whole world now seems to just accept lies at face value I am gonna go with it. Today I will make up for the lack of any posting over the weekend by making sure to bore you to tears, and thus make you thankful that there was not any of this crap for the last couple of days. If all goes as planned anyway.

• Sunday was a day that I really dreaded. It was new shoe day. I dreaded it so much in fact that I have put off the occasion for the last two months, even though it was quite necessary. My old shoes have ripped to the point that it is possible to put my entire fist through the side of one of them where the leather meets the sole. In fact the only thing that kept my foot from slipping out through that enormous hole was the fact that it hadn’t quite made it all the way to the toe of the shoe, just damn close. Of course the rip was almost as bad two months ago, I just hate shoe shopping so much that I kept putting it off.

It hasn’t always been like this, no, no, I actually used to enjoy shopping for shoes. Of course I used to enjoy shopping for shoes when I was following the trends that everyone does in their teens. Back then I would intentionally add unnecessary wear to shoes so that I could go and find the latest ‘in’ ones to replace them. That was when it was still on dad’s dime, so of course I never got the shoes that I really wanted, but I could usually get a cheap knock-off copy of the ones that I did desire. Strange that now that I am buying them myself, and can buy any damn pair I want, I so loathe the experience.

I only own one pair of shoes at any given time, well technically two, but one is a pair of dress shoes that might make it out of the box once a year at best. The other shoes are my everything shoes. Some people have a different pair for things like work, hiking, yardwork, digging ditches in horrible rainstorms, etc. I use the same pair for everything. Sometimes I will wear flip-flops when I am using the weedeater, which is a really stupid thing to do, but it does keep me from having to pick all the little bits of grass out of my shoelaces. I guess if I ever get careless and amputate a toe in the process I will look back at how foolish it was and laugh, or not, depending on what kind of medication I am on at the time.

So why do I hate shoe shopping so much? There is just no longer any selection. I know that you can walk into any random shoe store and see several hundred different shoes for sale, ranging from a couple dollars to a couple hundred dollars, but they never have anything even approaching what I want. So am I some uber-picky shoe snob? I don’t think so. All that I ever ask for is a pair of leather shoes that are black (at least mostly black) and hightops. That’s it, just black, leather hightops, wouldn’t seem that tough to find would they? I haven’t actually acquired a pair of the elusive things in at least four years.

My preferred brand of footwear is Nike, not that I have actually had a pair of them in a few years, since they just never seem to release anything that meets my meager criteria. I prefer Nike not for the fit (as they are always too tight and hurt my feet badly for the first week or two) nor for the name, but for their durability. The last pair of Nike’s that I had kept my feet covered for about a year and a half, I still actually have them and I do actually wear them sometimes when I know that I am going to get really dirty. For comparison, my last two shoe purchases have been something called “Tuff Grip” that I purchased at Wal-Mart, and which lasted about two months, and some “Tx Traction” shoes (a christmas gift from the wife that we never got around to picking up until late January or early February due to the aforementioned hatred of shoe shopping. And while I could have had any shoe in the store I took the 29 dollar traction ones since they were the only ones that came even close to what I wanted), which lasted about four months, though I put off buying new ones for a couple of months after that. As you can see the Nike’s just last longer.

My job actually dictates what kind of shoes I must wear. Not like a dress code, more like something that I have discovered over time. First off, I cut meat while I am at work, this tends to leave the shoes getting blood dripped on them. Try going out to dinner sometime wearing just jeans and a T-shirt along with a pair of blood-stained white sneakers, maybe people aren’t actually looking at the shoes at all, but it does make me feel pretty self-conscious. For that same reason I am not able to wear shoes that have any woven fabric in them, sometimes the blood will actually seep through woven fabrics also and that is quite gross. That is why they need to be both black and leather, and I mean leather not suede. While Blood and Suede might make for a good Ray Stevens song, it is pretty nasty on shoes. I can get away with faux leather, as long as the tongue of the shoe is also made of the same material, but it rarely is in those faux leather shoes. The reason for wanting the shoes to be hightops just comes with the amount of lifting/pushing/pulling that I do while working. I don’t really believe that having the extra lace or two around my ankles is going to save me if the four-hundred pound cart that I am pushing up the ramp comes back on me, but they do keep my shoes from slipping off during that scenario. The worst thing that could possibly happen when trying to control an out of control cart would be to lose traction when a shoe slips off, and low top shoes seem to slip off a lot more frequently than the hightops.

I haven’t been able to find a decent pair of hightops in the last six or so years, all the ones that they sell now seem to be white with many other colors on them. Did the NBA actually start to require players to wear white shoes or what? The only way I was able to get black hightops was with basketball shoes. Also, all of the shoes that even approach midtop height these days, at least the black ones, seem to have both leather and suede on them. So it seems that I am destined to never have a pair of shoes that I really feel comfortable wearing.

To anyone who is now thinking, ‘why not just black work boots?’, the reason is that while I do all of the lifting, pushing, meat-cutting, etc. I also stock the shelves. This means that there is a lot of squatting and kneeling as well. I tried those black work boots when I first noticed how difficult it was to find the shoes I wanted, and a lot of kneeling and squatting in those boots will leave you with horrible bruises on the front of your ankles. That is not even mentioning how horribly uncomfortable they were in the first place.

The particular shoe shopping experience, this time, resulted in a pair of New Balance lowtops. Out of the available selection of shoes that were both black and leather, there were either these or a pair of Reebok’s that felt like they were an inch higher in the toe than they were in the heel. I had at least heard of New Balance, so hopefully the shoes will last longer than it takes me to write this damn post.

Completely on a side note, I was gonna link to the pair of shoes that I bought, but the New Balance website should be a poster child for how not to do website naviagation. You have to be a couple of page-loads in before it gives you the search option, the search option does not actually seem to allow you to search for the actual model number (or whatever it is that they print on the tag in the shoe), and on top of all of that you can’t even browse all the shoes; You have to select a category to browse by. How in the random fluctuation of time and space’s name am I supposed to know if the shoes are walking, running, training, cross-training, basketball, tennis, extreme sports or other? If it said it was a “CT190”, for instance, I would assume that the “CT” stood for cross-training. Yet every shoe on the damn site starts with an ‘M’, that makes it impossible to tell even what category the shoe I bought would be in. Since I browsed through about fifty shoes from the site though, I would guess that they just slap any random number on any damn shoe, as they all look exactly the same.

Well, at least I got some new shoes.

• In other news, the war in Iraq just got a whole hell of a lot closer to home. Right next door, in fact. It seems that my neighbor, who is at least six-and-a-half feet tall, has just re-signed into military service. He was still on Active Duty when the Desert Storm conflict was going on but never got shipped over. He has decided to go ahead and serve his country in the current war to (I suppose) fulfill some sort of patriotic duty. I really believe that that is an admirable thing to do, at least in most cases. I am certainly not going to fault any person that wants to defend our country (regardless of how wrong I think the conflict may be), I don’t have the courage or fortitude to do it, any man who does is either a better man than I, or possibly a bit insane, or both.

I certainly wish him the best of luck in his new endeavor, I believe he ships to a special training course in October and will be in Iraq by late December or early January. I guess he is only doing two years this time, and there will only be one year on the front line, while the six weeks of training and the reaminder of the two years will be stateside. Best of luck to you.

It is impossible for me to understand his logic in signing back up. When he was serving in the military back in the desert storm days, he was likely single and ready to give his all to defend his country. I am sure that he has the same mindset now, but a decade has passed. He is in his thirties, married, has two beautiful children, and has decided to ship off again to fight the baddies in the middle east. Again, I must admire his…well whatever it is that made him make the decision, but what happens if he doesn’t make it home? He will leave behind a widow and a couple of children that will likely spend the rest of their lives wondering why he decided to fight this fight. There is a very famous line from a movie (which I think was ‘Johnny got his gun’) where a child asks his father “Dad, when it comes my time, will you want me to go?” The response from the father being, “For democracy, any man would give his only begotten son.”

What happens when you are a father? You leave two generations to mourn if you don’t manage to make it back. I do admire the courage that it takes to go into a war, especially when you don’t really have to.

Here’s to hoping the neigbor makes it back in one piece. Best of luck to you.

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