shoes of discord

Townsends are a stubborn bunch, born and bred, and temperamentally frugal, to boot. There’s an old family yarn that illustrates our ingrained thrift, originally a lesson in good Yankee economy, trimmed over the years into a succinct truism more indicative of self-spite: “Eat the rotten apples first.”

The other evening I hopped the train downtown to meet Chris so we could attend an event at Columbia College. Since the waning day proved cooler than any we’d enjoyed for awhile in this summer’s arid swelter, we agreed to walk what seemed a manageable distance from City Hall to the event.

Four or five blocks in, my dogs, as they say, began to howl. This surprised me some. My footwear, while arguably selected more on the basis of appearance than utility, was a standby favorite pair of platform sandals in which I’d lasted entire workdays without blink or bellyache. My escalating degree of discomfort on this occasion was therefore unexpected. The farther we ventured down the city’s pavements, destination failing to appear, the crankier I grew.

Now, Reisers are for their part constitutional smart asses (Chris: “Would you prefer a dumb ass?”). My darling spouse’s typical response to my too-seriousness is rapidfire delivery of quirks and jocular jabs intended to provoke a bit of a laugh at whatever’s causing undue consternation. In this vein, he declared, “I’m throwing out those shoes when we get home.”

Regrettably, I fear I’m not always the ideal recipient of a bracing spiritual tonic. Another characteristic trait of Townsendism: stone cold denial. If we don’t like it, it doesn’t exist. My shoes were fine. I was fine. We were nearly there… weren’t we?

Another few blocks spent stewing over his autocratic announcement, and I had morphed into the prickliest of pincushions: “I’m going to start throwing out your shoes and see how you like it.”

The silence of a mutually aggrieved trainride home gave me sufficient time, off my feet, to reconsider the wisdom of my snappishness.

Upon arrival home, I plopped myself down on the floor of the front hallway and took a good hard look at the real perpetrators– and discovered that my shoes were cracked right through in several strategic arch-supporting places. In point of fact the things were falling apart under my feet. Well, hell, no wonder they hurt.

Townsend to the last, I’m afraid I denied Chris the opportunity to make good on his threat, instead walking straight into the kitchen myself and chucking the things in the bin. And then I went and gave him a big I’m-sorry kiss in somewhat compensation for the snarls.

If I’m very good to him, he says he might even consider buying me some new shoes.