“What size foot do you have?”
“Eleven and a half. Why?”
“My Dad was visiting and bought a pair of sneakers. He wore them once before going home to South Carolina and left them. Do you want them?”
I took the tennis shoes. They were generic but in pristine condition. For a long time they were my only sneakers. I wore them to do any athletic endeavor. Hiking, tennis, basketball. My friend any time he saw them on my feet would joke, “Nice shoes. Where did you get them?”
I wore them when I was tripped playing basketball and broke my wrist. I also wore them when I climbed the rocky peaks of Southern California. I walked hundreds, maybe thousands of miles in those shoes. I wore them out good. The tread on the bottoms were nonexistent and the stench when you took them off was overwhelming.
After months of threatening to replace them, I finally overcame my fear of shopping and bought a new pair of tennis shoes. I kept the old pair for a bit, until I could wear in the new shoes. Then one day I was invited to play ultimate frisbee. The sprinklers had turned the field into a mud bowl. Running back and forth dirt caked the inside and outside of those old shoes.
I got a ride back from another friend. I took off the dirty worn out shoes intending to retire them for good. I was going to tie up the laces and throw them over a power line, but my friend stopped me. “You’re getting rid of those shoes?”
“Yeah, they’re done.”
“Give them to me. I’ll give them away.” My friend was travelling to Nicaragua where he said he knew people who might want them.
When he returned from Central America I asked him how his travels went and more importantly what happened to the shoes. “I gave them to this guy. He was really excited about them. He said they would be his fancy, going out shoes.”