I can honestly say that in my whole life I have never lost one shoe. A pair of shoes, certainly. I once left my favorite sneakers in a flat in London and wimpered about it the entire flight home. But never have I just lost one shoe. I’m not sure how I would even go about losing one solitary shoe, unless I got stuck in earthquake rubble or was swept away by raging floodwaters. Perhaps I might lose just one shoe if I was a stunt double on a big-budget action movie and I got blasted out of it by a fireball from of a special effects explosion gone awry. Maybe I could see losing a shoe and not turning back for it if I was being pursued by white slave traders through the streets of Bangladesh. But otherwise, I’m pretty much certain I would notice if I was down one shoe.
But in Burlington, there are countless shoes without mates. I know this from my twice-daily dog-walking constitutionals around my neighborhood. Not a walk goes by when I don’t see some dejected footwear, lacking its mate, sulking on a greenbelt or slouching in a gutter. On my walks I’ve seen sneakers, flip-flops and a work boot or two. My question to the owners of these forgotten shoes is: do you not know that you’re missing one shoe?
Perhaps people are taking these shoes as a joke. You know what is a hilarious, gets ‘em ever time, gag? Stealing a friend’s shoe, particularly if the shoe has more value than just protecting the friend’s little piggies. There’s nothing funnier than watching a friend tear his or her house apart looking for that one missing shoe. Comedy gold right there.
It could be that, because this is Burlington and there are more than a few neo (nouveau, or nuevo, if you want to get trilingual about it) hippie-esque people here, the owners of these lost shoes aren’t particularly bothered by their absence. It just means they’re one shoe closer to barefooted bliss. I, being a ridiculous tenderfoot, can’t possibly consider going through the world sans one shoe, let alone going without footwear entirely. Me, I’m a cobbler’s dream. Give me shoes, and lots of them.
Yesterday, I saw a little rugrat of about five or six wandering around wearing only one purple Croc. The youngster didn’t seem to mind, nor even realize for that matter, that he was missing a shoe. His right foot was covered in wet grass and dirt and he happily skipped through a gravel parking lot without even the slightest hitch. Me, I would have been limping like I was walking on hot coals.
At City Market a couple days ago, one sad little Elmo slipper sat on the window sill. Some child out there is being pushed in a stroller with one cold foot. What have we come to when parents no longer care if their children are equally shod? What is it with these lost shoes?
Apparently I’m not the only one who has noticed that the world is full of shoes missing their mates. Take a look at this blog from Ireland with photos of lost shoes. Methinks I might start something like this for Burlington.