The Mom has always been a walker. She instilled this notion that walking was not only a good form of exercise, but also had the potential for adventure or at least diversion, when we were tiny. Most of my childhood memories involve going on walks: through the neighbourhood, a park, a swamp, wherever. If we could walk, we would. So one might be forgiven for thinking The Mom had always been a fan of a good, sturdy shoe.
She could not be less fond of them.
As a teenager, I went through a Doc Marten’s phase. I wore them with all outfits. I adored them. They were so flat and made walking so much easier, until of course, the arthritis kicked itself into high gear and they became – with their serious treads – too heavy for me to consider wearing. I have never been a fan of what you might call a shoey-shoe, as in, the less shoe involved in the shoe the better. I am a fan of the flipflop and would wear them constantly except for winter.
Now and again, The Mom might voice something approaching displeasure at her choice of footwear. If we are Going Out Somewhere Nice, she will have, naturally, festooned her feet with something that is wholly at odds with the concept of walking.
She will sit at the kitchen table, waving her feet about, as though she were a ten-year- old en route to a birthday party.
“Aren’t they great?” she’ll swoon, rather breathlessly.
“Those look utterly loathsome,” I will reply.
“No dear, these are pretty shoes. Those,” she’ll say, pointing at whatever sensible thing is cladding my feet, “Are loathsome.”
“Ah, yes, but you see, I can still move around in these, as nature intended.”
“Nature intended me to look fetching.”
“And not be able to flee should peril come calling?”
“Do you frequently encounter peril when out of an evening? Is there something I ought to be worried about here?”
“Mild peril only. The gap between the train and the platform, the layer of grease on the sidewalk outside the Vietnamese restaurant, vomit, glass, people on bikes, vehicles of all sorts.”
“The usual then?”
“Indeed. Plus, if I need to make a quick getaway, I’m golden. You on the other hand, may get stuck talking to someone dull. The topics of conversation may be so soul-crushingly dull that you may even try to nip away, but you won’t even make it to the bar. Those heels will trip you up quick sharp and you’ll be face down in the mud. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
At this point she will scowl at me, which is fairly reasonable,e and go back to admiring her fancy shoes.
These new developments of aches and pains and this tendonitis business mean that she has had to take a sheet from the playbook L’il Sis and I share, which states that if you must wear shoes, they must be comfortable above all else.
In fact, it was L’il Sis who first alerted me to The Mom’s enforced change of footwear. It came through the ether in a very brief Facebook message:
OMFG. I have just about got The Mom into a pair of Birkenstocks. Off to mall. Will report back soon.
It’s the sort of message you’re not really sure what to do with. As I didn’t know the reason for this new philosophy of footwear, I could only assume that The Mom had finally signed over Power of Attorney to the other two and they were now enjoying their newfound authority very much.
A short while later, a Skype chat with The Mom cleared things up. She was bemoaning her situation.
“It hurts to walk!” she cried.
“Yeah, that happens. For me and L’il Sis it’s called Autumn and Spring. Be glad it’s just your feet. I’ll save scaring you about the gnarled hands for another time.”
“But I can’t have arthritis, I’m not that old!”
It’s at this point that she realises L’il Sis and I have had arthritis since we were in our late teens, and you can see by her expression that she feels bad. It offends me in no way, but I’m not one to back away from a golden opportunity.
“Yes, well, us Aged People do struggle. Let me know when you’re in need of a stick or walker. I know a guy. Customises them.”
“But I had to buy these running shoes that come in horribly bright colours! They don’t go with anything!”
Now, I know The Mom is quite fashion forward when she Goes Out, but on a day-to-day basis of doggie day care, writing, swimming and feeding herself, her fashion doesn’t really go with anything, so the shoes aren’t really the problem.
“Look,” I said. “You’ve got a choice. Either you want to walk and not be crippled, or you want to be crippled and mince about in ridiculous shoes that many leading medical minds have decried as horrible. The choice is yours.”
She harupmhed at this statement of fact until I remind her that years ago, when I was finally diagnosed with arthritis and not exercising or doing anything to make myself better, she issued me an ultimatum: either get back in the pool and get rid of the cane I was using to walk, or she’d stop paying my rent, and I ‘d have to come home and the same exercise regime would be inflicted on me, with the added benefit of being under her watchful eye.
I have it on good authority that she has three pairs of very sensible, very brightly coloured new trainers.