Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I'm being stalked by lonely shoes

The week before I left for my current trip to Kauai, a lonely hiking boot appeared on the street corner outside my office:
Since temperatures were in the single digits that week, it seemed unlikely its owner succumbed to an overwhelming urge to stroll barefoot around downtown Bend, Oregon. Even if that were the case, why remove only one boot?

I watched the boot for a few days, wondering if its owner would come back to reclaim it. The day before I flew to Hawaii, the boot made a mystery migration into an adjacent tree:
Was this someone's effort to make the boot easier for its owner to spot? An attempt at whimsy? A signal to visiting aliens that we are here and have cold feet?

I didn't give it a lot of thought, probably because my thoughts were already occupied by visions of sun, sand, and shirtless men bringing me tropical drinks while telling me how much they loved reading Making Waves.

The first day I arrived on Kauai, I learned my mother has a new hobby. Though I've heard it's common for retired people to develop new interests, I always assumed this meant golf or scrapbooking.

My mom has been taking pictures of lonely, abandoned flip flops:

I'm not sure whether I'm more intrigued by the fact that my mother and I have been fixating on abandoned footwear 2,600 miles apart, or the fact that the footwear is being abandoned in the first place.

I understand the occasional dropped shoe in a locker room, or even on a beach, but a flip flop in the parking lot of a golf course? A hiking boot on a frozen, downtown street corner?

Are there hundreds of people out there walking around with only one shoe? Is there a zombie with a foot fetish roaming the globe snatching footwear from unsuspecting pedestrians? Is there a charity that offers footwear to people missing a leg? If so, I'd like to know about it.

I'd also love to know your theories about where these single shoes are coming from. Please share!

In the meantime, I'll be walking around Kauai barefoot as often as possible. I'm not taking any chances with that shoe fetish zombie.


SM Schmidt said...

Dryers have to go on vacation sometime. We all know shoes are easier to prey on in the wild compared to the domestic sock.

I'm stumped over how shoes get lost at a golf course. If it was a gold shoe maybe...but a flipflop?

Malin said...

It's the foot version of holding hands for people without hands. You stick your feet in the same shoe. Then, of course, you have one shoe more than you need, so it gets forgotten in the throes of cuddliness.

Abby Stevens said...

I dunno which is a bigger mystery - these lone shoes you and your mother are taking pictures of, lol, or the sneakers you see hanging from telephone lines all over cities.

The only explanation for either is... zombies.

Laurel N said...

I always wonder how a single athletic shoes goes renegade in the middle of the divided highway. Every spring one appears between my house and work. Each year it is a different color, but always a man's shoe, likely worn by a teen at one point. It stays, through rain and shine and more rain, until one day it disappears, replaced by the annual couch cushion.
Another zombie sign?

Laurel N

Sarah W said...

Going by my children, I would say that the flip-flops on the beach were full of sand, so they carried them to the car and dropped one. Somewhere.

Or stuck them out the car window to blow off all the sand and dropped it. Somewhere.

Or put a foot out the window, just because and it took off. Somewhere.

I think the boot was originally owned by some person whose spouse threatened him (or her) with bodily harm if he (or she) tracked winter yuck on the floor. So he (or she) took 'em off in the garage and put one on the roof of the car as he (or she)dealt with the other one. The next day, he (etc.) drove off without noticing it. Around 30 mph, it took flight.

But I'm thinking squirrels probably put it in the tree.

Anonymous said...

Abby I was going to say the same thing. How and why do those shoes get hung up over electric lines?

Having never lost one shoe, I really can't understand the phenomenon but I have seen evidence of it.

Not in Hawaii, though. Lucky Tawna.

Tessa Conte said...

I know I know!!!

It's the Sock Monster's Cousin! You know, the one that lives in your washing maschine and eats at least one sock each wash?

Mark Simpson said...

Clearly you are being stalked by a man with three legs.

Though that's obvious, there still may be more. An earlier comment triggered the epiphony...its a three-legged zombie stalker. (TLZS)

Sorry, Tawna.

The presence of a TLZS would go far in explaining---in the absentminded fashion so typical of zombies---the habitual abandonment of unneeded footwear. Would you dump your spare on the curb simply because your tires are currently in a functional state? Of course not.

Of course I considered the possibility of a TLZS deliberately planting shoes where you are likely to stumble upon them.. perhaps as a calling card or vague warning from beyond the grave, but my gut says that's giving zombies too much credit...

The ability to either follow you to Kauai or coordinate with another TLZS in the area does indicate some level of sophistication, however. They may be evolving. :-/

(For some reason I just thought of a college roommate coincidentally nicknamed "Tripod".

Interesting to some more than others perhaps---but sadly, its most likely unrelated.)

Michelle Wolfson said...

Normally I like Mark's comments a lot, and this one was pretty good. Tripod. Ha. But I'm going to have to go with Sarah W today. But that may be just because I'm not a zombie person. Nicely done.

We miss you Tawna. Enjoy your sand and sun!!!

lora96 said...

See, my favorite family story ever involves a solitary shoe.

When my (now 90yo) grandma was 2 or 3 she rode the train with her mom and sister to Tennessee to visit her grandmother. It was hot, the train was stuff and if you opened the windows, cinders blew on you.

My grandma was sitting in her mother's lap fussing about being hot and when her mom relented and opened the window a little, the kid tossed her shoe out.

She didn't have any other shoes. So somewhere, a maryjane roams free...

kd easley said...

I like the idea of Zombies roaming the earth stealing shoes. It appeals to my odd sense of humor.

As for the athletic shoes hanging over the power lines, that's the drug dealers mark their corners. A sign to buyers that product is available and to other dealers to stay on their own corner.

Why do I know this living in a minuscule town that is so small the dealers don't need to mark their corners? I write crime fiction, what can I say.

Out in California last spring when I was visiting my son, I drove into an alley marked with shoes, missed the turn to my motel and ended up almost driving through a deal in progress. I pay more attention to those little details now.

Linda G. said...

Wait...you're in Hawaii, where there are, no doubt, half-naked men wondering around everywhere, and you are posting pictures of orphaned SHOES?

Sheesh. Come on, Tawna. Give a gal a break here... ;)

Amanda said...

It's aliens. Always aliens.

There's another blogger that has a series called Roadside Shoes -- a phenom sweeping the nation...