New Kicks

I headed into the women’s locker room at the pool for a quick break from my tennis match at the courts nearby.  There I saw a five, maybe six-year-old girl sitting on an empty bench.  She pulled her foot up alongside her and carefully tied the pink and white laces of her shoe.

Her wet ponytail gave me a clue that she’d just finished her morning swim lesson.  She was the lone swimmer left in the locker room, but didn’t appear in any great hurry to leave.

I’d passed a man—her father I’d guessed—pacing back and forth outside.  I resisted the temptation to retrace my steps, push the door open and say, “Have a seat. It’s going to be awhile.”

On my way out, the girl stood to pull her swim bag onto her shoulder.  As I opened the door, a tiny voice behind me said, “Hey” and again, “Hey.”

I turned and the small swimmer kicked her foot in the air and said, “You’ve got to get yourself a pair of these.”

I smiled and said, “Those are nice shoes.”  She said, “Look, they make music.”  She reached down and pushed a button beside the top eyelet.  Sure enough, a melody started playing.

“And when you do this,” she said as she stomped her heels, “look, my shoes light up.”  True to her word, lights flickered around the front edges of the shoes with every stomp.

Sometimes I wonder who makes the rules?  Who decided that people over age 12 are too old or too mature to wear cool shoes that light up and play music?

Don’t misunderstand me.  I loved (and I do mean loved) my PF Flyers back when I was a member of the “12 and under” club.  An afternoon at the shoe store with Mom and my brothers was a treat.

We’d sit in our clean, hole-less socks—Mom made sure of that–with open shoe boxes scattered about the floor and thin tissue paper flying every which way. It occurs to me the shoe salesman and our mother may not have enjoyed the afternoon as much and my brothers and me.

I’d breathe in the scent of fresh canvas and new rubber soles as I sat on the edge of the seat waiting to try on another pair.  And I never, ever, left the store without the new shoes on my feet and the castoffs in their box.  Sometimes I even got a Johnny Quest decoder ring or a comic book—free with my (mother’s) purchase.

Even today, thanks to PF Flyers, every time I lace-up new tennis shoes—no matter the brand—I think, “Wow, I’m going to run faster and jump higher.”  Imagine what I could do if my new “kicks” played music and flashed cool lights?

After my little friend had pushed her shoe’s music button and stomped around more than a few times, she said, “You really DO need a pair of these.”

If only they carried my size.


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