The Younger Set
Walks of Life Continued Short Story
Walks of Life
Walks of Life
... and tried imagining how I might minimize their being noticed. A long skirt perhaps, or boot cut jeans with a bright blouse to minimize the effect and attract the eye to the color, not what I was wearing on my feet might be the ticket. But nothing worked, it was foolish to think no one would notice a pair of brown laced oxfords gliding under a skirt especially if it was long enough to hide them. With a long, brown skirt and hoodie top I might just resemble an expelled nun or monk, but the Catholic school girls wore cute uniforms- with sneakers. Oh, I had never felt so trapped and I looked for escape; the motorcycle gangs wear lace up boots but only black so I was back to the inevitable. They lay at my feet like an unwanted appendage, like a sixth toe.
I had to wear them though, if I did not I would never see another ballet; in my heart of hearths I felt ballet would have remedied my weak arch problem without the brown oxfords. I had seen the Houston Ballet Corps while on a school trip and I knew ballet slippers were beautiful. And, I had competed in music appreciation so I could name the classical selections and composers. After all ballet is, among other things, exercising feet to music and assuredly could strengthen my weak arch. Ballet lessons were denied. It was painful to fantasize about how attractive the latter ensemble was; school with brown lace ups could not compare with the graceful movements and satin ballet slippers; even if I did not wear the latter to school, it was a welcomed fantasy. Well, at least there was gym, I had to wear sneakers for gym class so there would be some saved and normal appearance time. Continuing to indulge myself in misery and misfortune I could see myself wearing those shoes for classes and lunch, it was useless to think one hour in a gym would make any difference since the entire school would have already seen my sixth toe. I could just pretend I don’t care, like hey yea, that’s the girl with the cool sixth toe brown shoes- who cares or something. That I could try but would not be able to carry off; no, I felt humiliated and it was going to show. I once read a story about how a cartoonist, Al Capp had a prosthetic leg; he rarely discussed the events that led to his losing his leg because when people found out about it he was not sure what they would do. Once he was chased down the block by a gang of young ruffians who were shouting, “We want to see your wooden leg, show us your wooden leg”! There would be no more weak arch and other means of support discussion. When the school day arrived and I was busy getting to classes and trying not to be sleepy or distracted so I could learn something; it helped, I found, if while you are in class, you listen. Then you won’t have to read new stuff and the old stuff you already heard is familiar and so, not difficult homework.
I had a friend, Betty June Rider who seemed nice and was always friendly, her father drove a Continental Trail Ways bus. I did not know anyone who drove anything commercially though, I had seen a national news man on TV who collected bus memorabilia because his father had driven one. His name was Jim Lehrer; and so this information about her father made Betty June a bit fascinating. She was cosmopolitan, had traveled, and smart. One day while we were at our lockers I noticed Betty June’s feet; I had been so absorbed in my own dilemma and cautious with my feet, not showing my shoes around others, I had forgotten about their shoes. Betty June was wearing brown oxfords. They looked great on her; she seemed to like them and wore them with those little white socks with scalloped edges. She was actually comfortable in those shoes and had an almost athletic spring in her step. Hers did not appear offensive even, like mine they were stitched to platform soles. She seemed unconcerned that they were brown and just assumed they were attractive; she wore them with everything!
I now faced the dilemma of addressing the issue or leaving it alone which is exactly what I did. I avoided any conversation about feet or shoes or socks or anything bipedal which was a bit ridiculous since Betty June apparently was just fine in her brown. It was I who was deliberately suffering and by my own hand. I tried acting nonchalant while watching Betty June wear her attire since Betty June seemed to enjoy hers; but I never, never liked or wanted to wear those shoes. The day arrived when I could stop wearing the brown oxfords and I did not concern myself with those shoes again.
And, I did not confide in my friend the discomfort I felt in those shoes. All along my observant and dutiful older sister told me and everyone else, that I had "to wear corrective shoes"; I could have done without my sister’s help. But Betty June was someone, a friend, who actually liked brown oxfords and me! My older sister never had to wear them. However, if you believe in karma (what goes around, comes around) there might have been a little in my situation. Because later on when my sister was in college training to be a dietitian she was required to wear white nursing oxfords on the floor, if she intended to continue her dietitian studies; she hated those shoes, too. Life walks in strange shoes and goes in strange directions,. I never told her about Betty June.
“You are running over the sides of your shoes, I have made an appointment to have your feet examined”, Mother was definite. In spite of cooperation and assistance pleas like offering to tie my sneakers tighter, my pediatrician recommended a pair of sturdy support oxfords for my weak arch; just for a while until I grew out of it, whatever eternity that meant, at least it wasn't permanent. As I scanned the shiny, new, brown leather shoes with the lace up eyelets, I cringed. “Although I might be able to live with black ones, those shoes would have to be brown”, I thought to myself, “and I would not be caught, well, not dead but not seen in those”. But, I knew I would be wearing them ...
Wild Things"All that flapping and feathers, I hate that”. Squirrels tolerate birds. “I want to jump into the sky! See me? I can do this and I can do this!” They climb down headfirst.
“He is my mate.” They know who they are. “His nest smells funny”. Some prefer pine needles the others abhor.
“I will not eat it because I do not know what it is”. They have seen poison effects. “We have fresh water, we will not die.” Droplets on leaves for small thirsts are perfect.
"I search for seeds and nuts all day long." While we unload groceries in sacks from the car. What is astounding, squirrels fit in your palm and know who you are.
No matter what we are and who,some duties everyone must do:
A Poet puts aside his wreath to wash his face and brush his teeth,
And even Earlsmust comb their curls,
and even Kingshave underthings. ________Arthur Guiterman
I'm Nobody! Who are you?Are you- a Nobody-too?Then there's a pair of us!Don't tell they'd advertise-you know!
How dreary- to be-Somebody!How public-like a Frog-To tell one's name-the livelong June-To an admiring Bog!