Ritual Reruns

learning to tie shoes is a life lessonAt my advanced age, it’s amazing that I had to re-learn how to tie my shoes. In our re-imagined world, rote tasks that used to be so simple and swift can now seem iffy and intricate. At least I’m catching up with 5-6 year olds.

Using Velcro, even today’s toddlers can quickly “tie” their shoes instead of bumbling through bunny ears and granny knots with fumbling fingers, formerly a giant step toward growing up and on a par with potty-training. Today, kids of all ages can also choose unique shoe styles that flash lights at each step, glide on runner-wheels and even the smallest size dazzles with stars, stripes, flowers or fake fur.

Recall your own first attempts tying that lowly shoelace? A physical as well as mental process, it’s threaded through memory and stitched into time, memorized as much by our muscles as our minds. Children of my era eventually mastered this small but treasured task. A few years ago I found the same joy of discovery with a pair of exercise shoes.

Like many techno-fancy footwear, they were red fabric and had those puzzling, extra holes at the top. I shrugged and left them empty for months. Then someone explained that those top holes closest to each ankle accommodate a same-side loop of each lace before crossing over for the final tie—a modern maneuver for extra support. Eureka! I got it! An emotional re-run recalling that rush of self-reliance from so very long ago—tying my own shoes.

My latest pseudo-suede “gym” shoes have gone a step (pardon the pun) further. Each shoe “ties” with one continuous, elastic loop. Permanently crisscrossed, this lace tightens by pulling the ankle loop up and sliding a mini-lever down that closes the shoe to anchor tightly against the tongue—no lacing, threading bows or ties. And considering the slip on, step into, boots, loafers, sandals and flip flops most of us wear year round, long gone is that magical shoe-tying rite of passage.

My granddaughter recently purchased her prom dress, a tasteful, knee-length, navy blue A-line, plain but pretty. “I’ve got a pair of pumps that would look lovely with that,” I offered. Both she and my daughter looked puzzled. “Show Grammy the shoes you already bought to go with the dress,” said my daughter. Neither heels nor sandals, they were the “in” style I was assured, flat, rubber-bottomed, high top copies of combat boots. But they matched in color and were “dressy,” a light-weight fabric printed with small silvery stars. At least, as a teen, she’s learned how to tie them.

About Evie Preston

Evie enjoys the double life of a freelance writer and a financial columnist as the Money Lady for Active Over 50 magazine. Her humor pieces appear in the Palo Alto Weekly and other local publications. In a warm and witty style, Evie slants many of her articles on the facts and foibles of senior living. She also explores her past adventures in the food business and often returns to her first love, teaching.
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