From the time he was born, our youngest made it a concerted effort to not wear shoes any more than absolutely necessary. It was so prevalent that when someone saw him in shoes, they would make a comment about it.
You know the sign ‘No shirt, No shoes, No service?’ Well we discovered that hardly any establishment actually meant it. In fact, the only time there was a real problem was when he and I went to a recycling center. There was broken glass all over, but somehow neither of us noticed until we got up to the clerk. He took one look at Michael’s bare feet and said we had to go get shoes for him. I had to carry him piggy-back back to our car. He hadn’t brought shoes with him, so he had to wait in the car while I went back.
In second grade, he and his teacher both didn’t like shoes. I remember coming to pick him up one day and they were both standing outside of the classroom without shoes. Only a small school would allow such behavior from either of them. Although, when you think about it, why? Why is it such a big deal? I guess you could argue that it’s for safety however if you felt the pads of Michael’s feet you would understand that they're nearly impenetrable. In fact, there are studies that indicate that going barefoot is healthier. And Michael was/is a very healthy boy, so there you go. People ask why we would let him get away with this. I always responded that I didn’t see why it was such a big deal and besides, there were other battles to fight that were more important.
When the boys were younger, we would volunteer to ring the bell outside the grocery store on Christmas Eve for Salvation Army. With the weather being cold, Michael would wear his Santa hat and no shoes. One man came up to him and offered to empty his pockets of change as a donation if Michael would put shoes on. He declined the offer.
While he hated soccer, he loved indoor soccer shoes (I mean, tolerated them the most). There was one type of one brand that he could stand, Nike Gato. As his feet grew, we’d go online and find another pair just like them but in a bigger size. When he was a sophomore in high school, we bought him the last pair of that type. His feet had stopped growing. He had that one pair and wore them exclusively when mandatory all the way through his freshman year of college.
When we left for the three-hour drive to San Luis Obispo for a scheduled campus visit at Cal Poly we stopped along the way for a McDonald’s breakfast. When I turned around to give him his order, I noticed he didn’t have shoes on. I asked if he had brought shoes. He looked around and said, ‘I don’t think so.’ We were close enough to go back home for them. Otherwise, we would have had to find a store along the way.
Once completed with his first year of college, Michael got a job for the summer. With his very first paycheck he had ever received we were shocked that he paid $500 for a pair of Nike Dunk Low Night of Mischief shoes. Somehow, this unleashed the shoe fetish within him. It’s now November and nearly all of his money has been spent on sneakers. At first, he was going to buy them and sell them for more. His problem is that he likes them all so much, he’s having difficulty letting go.
We had no idea that flipping shoes for a profit was a thing. Apparently, companies like Nike release limited special editions. They sell out immediately and then the price is driven up by a demand for the coveted shoes.
And just yesterday, Michael said he wants to design his own shoes. He knows what he wants them to look like, but he hasn’t figured out the manufacturing part yet. With his artistic flare and the design techniques he’s learned while studying architecture in college, we have no doubt that he’ll figure it out. From no shoes, to expensive shoes, to his own line of designer shoes. We are solely marveling at the transformation.
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Thoughts that are alien to any of my other projects can be found here.