Sunday, July 28, 2013

INSOLES

Much like ALKA-SELTZER and good shower-heads, replaceable insoles are an item I came to appreciate far too late in life.

I placed too much faith in those who designed shoes. I assumed they knew what they were doing. Boy, was I wrong. People who design shoes spend an awful lot of time mixing mesh and suede, and deciding where lace-holes go. They make treads that look like Navajo rugs and  no doubt give hours to arguing the width of decorative stripes. An insider in Big Shoe told me that deciding whether or not the side of the sole had a raised logo or not caused weeks of debate.

All of this fuss over shoe designs, yet when it comes to the insole, it's usually just an unfinished piece of particle board. If you buy an athletic shoe, maybe you get a thin piece of burlap for cushion. This is no way to live.

Any corner drug store will have a supply of insoles, and suddenly you go from a Roman Empire era religious zealot traipsing across the rocky shores of Galilee in thin sandals to a middle aged playboy in the 1970's wearing calfskin slippers on a shag carpet. And only calfskin slippers. 

My job occasionally requires me to be on my feet for 10-18 hours at a time on the concrete floors of convention centers across the nation; floors that have been hard-baked by years of fluorescent lighting and pounded firm by the steamroller feet of a million drunken salesmen and sales rep and sales directors, all burning calories like coal furnaces trying to shuffles appliance fixtures or medical waste disposal systems to and fro between themselves. In the few years I have been on the convention circuit, I have slowly learned to always have a few items on hand and ready to go. The first is a full, cold water bottle, easily refillable and wide-mouthed like a mason jar. I will chug away at that cold wet stuff like a hillbilly drinking Coors. The second is cash, in large bills, as convention center ATMs are rare and expensive, and you never know when you will find a HOWARD THE DUCK 7/11 Slurpee cup from 1977 in Near Mint condition that you need to own immediately. (Trust me on this one, I've been in those particular trenches.) The third is insoles, trimmed and fitted into whatever stylish footwear you managed to remember to pack. Your feet will spend the rest of your life thanking you, if you always remember number three.

One year for Christmas I thought it would be a great idea to treat all of my friends to this amazing discovery, and wrapped up several dozen sets of orthopedic gel insoles in bright wrapping paper with little snowmans. This was truly going to be the best Christmas ever. Suffice it to say, everyone looked at me like the Grandmother they secretly don't really love. I might as well have given them tube socks or walnuts. All the odd looks and low appreciation paid off as the years passed, however, and all of those ingrates eventually confided, secretly, in the days to come, that those insoles were the best present they received that year.

Because insoles are AWESOME.

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