Dangerspouse Rides Again

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Garage - Track

Jan. 12, 2005 - 4:05 p.m.

Dangerspouse Loses His Sole


I was totally perplexed and mixed up this morning by a word I came across while reading my latest download from The Guttenberg Project. The word was "metagrobolized". Turns out it means "totally perplexed and mixed up". Figures.

I've been downloading free reading materials from the Gutenberg Project since they first set up shop back when ol' Johannes was still alive. I don't even read half the opuses I save, I just feel guilty if I pass up anything offered gratis. It seems amoral somehow. This can lead to logistical problems at times - like having no more room in the fridge from all the windfall roadkill I've crammed in there - but for the most part it meshes quite nicely with my lifestyle/salary.


The perplexing word was found in an overblown, pedantic modern intro to the titillating 17th century work The Ten Pleasures of Marriage, by "A. Marsh".

I was curious to read this particular work because I myself could only come up with three pleasures - one for each orifice. Turns out that Mr. Marsh promotes such antiquated notions as "living in love and tranquility, equally confiding in each other, desiring no superiority; but with a true cordiality, interchangeably granting, and having each alike freedom of the monies...." Could you imagine him zapped forward to 21st Century America, peddling his radical "gender equality" subversion to masses of Conservative Theocrats? He couldn't get elected Assistant Hall Monitor on an pro-terrorism agenda like that.

Feeble attempts at scathing social satire aside, I have to admit a certain longing for the days when Men were Men, and Women were Chattel. I'd still have my shoes if they were.

I have this pair of shoes, see, that I love. They're dung brown, scuffed, leak through open seams on each side, and tilt to the outside of the ground down heels.

They're the most comfortable things I've ever wrapped my feet in.

Comfortable shoes are an absolute must with me. If I'm on the air reading a commercial for "Lilac Moonbeam's Holistic Spa" and someone is torquing a pair of vice grips on my pinky toes at the same time, well, let's just say my work suffers. I end up sounding like I'm thrashring Undesirables onto a cattle car for a one-way trip to Sobibor.

My dung brown shoes make me sound like I've just locked you in the Orgamistron from "Sleeper". (Not that I'm vain about my godlike talents or anything....)

NewWifey(tm) HATES my brown shoes.

Hates hates hates hates hates.

For some reason, NewWifey(tm) thinks that I am somehow a reflection on her when we embark anywhere together. I could be decked out in a full Joseph Abboud cashmere 3-piece buttondown with matching F50 Ferrari, but if I've finished the ensemble with my Comfy Brown Dogs she insists I look like I've assembled my entire wardrobe from an airlifted disaster relief crate.

This issue has been simmering under the surface of our marriage for several months now. I've managed to fend off her entreaties for a new pair of spats by arguing that I only wear them to work, where nobody sees me anyway. Since we don't have a social life (largely thanks to me, another simmering issue) there's no real need to plunk down money for shoes that could otherwise be better spent on important things, like breath mints (trust me).

But last Sunday the death knell finally rang for my poor pups. Out of the blue one of the old bats in her Sewing Guild called and invited her to an impromptu luncheon they were throwing together. The one catch? Spouses must attend also.

NewWifey(tm) LOVES her sewing group. It's the one girly-girl thing she concedes to in a life otherwise filled with power tools and motorcycling injuries. She wanted to go. Which meant that I wanted to go, whether I wanted to or not.

20 minutes later we knocked on Mrs. Tapestry's door and were ushered in to the dining room. After a typical middle class meal of tuna and green bean casseroles, we chatted over glasses of warm blush wine and feigned interest in geriatric health concerns until it was time to go. Mrs. T asked NewWifey(tm) to accompany her to the bedroom to point out our coats. When they emerged...NewWifey(tm)'s face was as red as her hair.

We said our goodbyes, politely declined a glass of Ensure for the road, and hopped in the Mighty WRX. We pulled out of their driveway and NewWifey(tm) let me have it.

"I cannot believe you wore those shoes to my girlfirend's house!"

"What do you mean? They're the only shoes I have! Unless you want me to wear my Flash Gordon running shoes you hate so much."

"I'm not sure I'm hating them quite so much today. Do you know what happened back there just before we left? Mrs. T. opened her bedroom closet and told me to pick out any pair of her husband's shoes I wanted to give to you. She assumed by looking at the scraps of leather on your feet that you were out of work and too proud to go on welfare. She offered them to me so she wouldn't embarass you."

"Look, honey, I'm sorry some octagenarian is apalled by my choice in footwear, but - "

"Shut up. When you get home tomorrow we're going shopping for shoes."

"But the weather -"

"I said, shut up."

Monday morning after work the heavens broke. It started as snow, big fat flakes that made it look like I was driving in a snow globe. But as I worked my way farther north more and more sleet started to mix in with the flakes until by the time I reached Dangerhouse it was basically unadulturated ice pelting down. I stepped out of the mighty WRX and slid halfway down my drive until I managed to latch on to a bowed branch and hoist myself to the front door.

NewWifey(tm) was waiting there with her coat on.

"Let's go."

"Uh, honey...it's a Teflon coated hockey rink out there. Seriously, we just want to stay in and cower today until this stops. I swear, we'll go get me shoes tomorrow."

"Last week you told me your fucking Subaru could climb from Whoville to the top of Mt. Krumpet without spilling a drop of your beer now that you have those super-fantabuloso Goodyear Grip-Ice tires on. Let's go."

We both grabbed the tree limb and inched our way back down to the Mighty WRX. And off we went.

Despite fears that my enthusiasm for All Wheel Drive Ubertraction may have been just a *smidgen* overenthusiastic, Stanley the Mighty WRX came through like a champ. Virually none of the trip was traversed sideways, and we got to the mall in only slightly longer time than it takes on an arid August day.

But...so did everyone else.

My GOD the mall was packed! I thought people in New Jersey rushed to the A&P for milk and bread when the weather turned hideous. It seems like nowadays there's a panicked rush to pick up hair scrunchies and crystal Tweetie Bird pendants. And shoes.

We parked waaaaaay out in the back lot, in one of the final slots butting right up against Rt46. It was a good half a mile to the nearest entrance.

We had a storm umbrella with us - one of those big golf jobs that pokes peoples' eyes out across the street as you walk along. It kept our hats dry, but my feet were soaked and hypothermic from wading through 2,640 feet of 3-inch deep slush. I was hobbling like Pope John Paul by the time we made the door.

I decided new shoes might be a good thing after all.

Willowbrook Mall has approximately 1 shoe store for every 4 shoppers. And that's at Christmas. During slower seasons it's more like 1:2. Of course all but 3 of those are womens' shoe stores, so that narrowed the field for me. Like most guys I would have been happy to make a beeline for Sears, point to a random black Oxford and say "Size 11" to the guy in the blue blazer. I wouldn't even try it on, just pay for it and hope for the best. If it chafed...I'd grow calluses.

NewWifey(tm) would have none of it. We went to all three Mens' Designer Shoe places - each place as far away from the others as possible, of course. And my feet were still bright red popsicles, every step so agonizing that it forced a low grunt from me. It sounded like I was having sex as I walked along.

Finally, years later, NewWifey(tm) was satisfied. We had gone to all three mens' shops and NewWifey(tm) had inspected their wares. Laces were examined, tongues were waggled, soles were judged for durability, and aesthetic value appraised. ESPECIALLY aesthetic value appraised.

Back in the mall, in front of the food court, she made her decision.

"We're going back to the 2nd shop, upstairs." she said. "I like shape of the toe box on the 11th pair you tried on there."

I had to agree it was a very nice toe box. So up the escalator we went.

I got back into the seat and the weary salesman brought out the pair again. I grabbed the box and headed for the counter.

"Where the hell are you going??"

"Um...to pay for the shoes. You do know they don't just give them as a thank you for walking in their store, right?"

"Shut up and sit down. You have to make SURE they're the right pair. Put them on and walk around the store for at least 10 minutes. I don't want to have to come back here and exchange them if they're the wrong size."

I shut up and sat down. What was 10 more minutes of snow piling up outside? Another 5 inches?

I laced up the new dogs and started pacing. It was a fairly large store with several aisles, and I passed the time going from Odor Eater display to...different Odor Eater display. I wondered if they would work if I lined our kitty litter box with them.

After what seemed like 10 minutes I walked back to NewWifey(tm). She was chatting with the salesman, telling how to repair the broken shock bushing on his Acura. I sat back down in the chair to change my shoes.

My shoes.....

"Honey, where are my shoes?"

She glanced down at me.

"Oh, some kids stole them."


She laughed. "You know how kids are. A couple of teenagers saw you mincing around the aisles and thought it would be funny to steal your shoes."

"And...you LET them?"

"Sure. It was pretty funny after all. And besides, you certainly don't need those old -"

Just then the lights went out.

In the entire mall.

Not just the lights, but the AllCelineDionAllTheTime muzak system also. In a split second everything went pitch black and dead silent. There were more people in the Willowbrook Mall that night than in Yankee Stadium during Game 7 of the World Series, and not one of them let out so much as a "What the FUCK?".

It probably lasted only 5 seconds or so, then there was an audible crackle as a backup generator kicked in and yellowish flood lights kicked on high overhead. Celine stayed shut the fuck up, thankfully.


Once the lights returned, so did peoples' voices. There was a gradual rising din as shoppers tried to explain to each other - in 147 different languages - what had just happened. And then from the far end of the mall a firefighter strode in and announced over the bullhorn what really had happened.

"*brzzzzt*...Ladies and gentlemen, the mall has suffered a power failure. So much ice has built up on the wires outside that several of them collapsed, causing a transformer explosion. We must ask that you all leave the mall at the South exit to avoid the live wires, and to do so immediately. Thank you."

He repeated this message several times as he strode along.

Well, at least we had done what we came to do. I passed the box to the sales clerk.

"Please ring these up so we can get out of here."

"I'm sorry sir, I can't sell you these shoes."

"What? Waddaya mean you can't sell me these shoes?!"

The guy was apologetic, but firm. "I'm sorry sir, but the backup generator in the Mall only restores the lights. We have no power to the register, the anti-theft code eraser for the shoes, nothing. When the power goes out, we have to close up shop and just wait. I am very sorry."

I sighed. Oh well, I still had...my....


Oh no!

I grabbed the salesman by the arm. "Please buddy, you don't understand. It's FREEZING out there, and we're parked somewhere around East Wisconsin. Can't you sell me anything - flip-flops, a pair of thick socks, SOMETHING? I swear, I'll come back tomorrow and give you DOUBLE the ticket price, you could make a tidy sum just for helping me out!"

He looked down at the floor and just shook his head. "I'm sorry...."

I stood with my mouth open for a minute in shock at the horror I was about to face. Then I slammed the size-11's with the nice toe boxes down in front of him and grabbed NewWifey(tm) by her lapel.

"Let's get this over with."

Of course, the South exit was the exit diametrically opposed to the parking lot where Stanley was slowly being entombed in ice. It was a mile and a quarter jog, if it was an inch.

And I was wearing Hanes "Gold Toe" black nylon socks.

I can't tell you how I managed to make it, because I think some inner defense mechanism will not allow me to recall that blood spattered march. All I know is, by the time we reached the Mighty WRX my socks had migrated to up around my knees, the soles having completely worn through. It goes without saying that I couldn't feel my feet, which turned out to be a blessing since when we got home I found my right foot was glued by crusted blood to the accelerator pedal. I didn't feel a thing when NewWifey(tm) chipped and pried it loose with a screwdriver.

And that's why I wore a pair of Hebo motorcycle dirt racing boots with a pair of tan Chinos and a seersucker shirt to work last night. It was them or my Fuzzy Mojo Jojo slippers.

Now here I am, feet soaking in a tub of Vaseline, tanked on Macallan Single Malt, and pupils dilated from 8 grams of Ibuprofen.

Tomorrow - back to the mall.

I think I'd better rest my soles for this one. Good night kids.

Oh yeah -

Halfway home, as we made the swooping merge from Rt46 onto Rt23, NewWifey(tm) craned her neck out the window.

"HEY LOOK!!" she yelled, pointing up through the snow. There, 30 feet up and swaying in the breeze of traffic, looped over a horizontal bar under the exit sign for Rt202 in Lincoln Park, was what looked like a set of dark Klackers from my childhood.

It was my shoes.


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