In New Jersey, school always started right after Labor Day, which I still think of as the end of summer.
As usual, we had a big cookout.
As usual, I was running, which my father detested. I wasn’t running in the house, mind you; I was running outside. He wasn’t opposed to running while playing, say, tag; no, he had a thing about running in certain situations – like running into the backyard because the burgers were ready. I never got a chance to ask him why, and that day was not the day to ask.
Running into the backyard for the burgers, I tripped over my cousin’s dog, a beautiful German shepherd named Su Ling. While I can’t recall for sure, it’s quite likely that my cousin, Su Ling and I were racing to be first to the burgers. Perhaps that’s what my father couldn’t stand. He always seemed sure it would end in disaster, and that day, I proved him right.
I fell headlong onto the gravel and couldn’t stand up. Within minutes, my ankle had swollen to the size of a baseball. As it turns out, I broke it in a way typical of children my age. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “Pediatric ankle injuries typically occur during sports or vigorous play when a child’s lower leg or foot twists unexpectedly.” My father had no medical training, but apparently, he was right about running.
I don’t remember much of the next 24 hours, but I do remember spending the night in the hospital and going under anesthesia the next morning for the doctors to set my ankle. I awoke in a cast, which remained in place for about six weeks.
My New Shoe(s)
This being the beginning of the school year, I’d gotten new school shoes, dark brown penny loafers that I loved more than life. For six weeks, I wore the one penny loafer on my right foot while I hobbled around on crutches.
Finally, the cast came off. I was so excited! That is, until I went to put on the left-foot loafer and realized the problem – I had one brand-new shoe and one beat-up shoe. This was unacceptable; my hope of retaining any of the coolness that I’d gained by having penny loafers and crutches was dashed. I asked my mother for new shoes.
Mom: “What’s wrong with the shoes you have?”
Me: “They don’t match!”
Mom: “What do you mean, they don’t match? They’re the same exact shoe!”
Me: “I can’t go to school like this!!!”
As you can guess, the woman of A-line skirt fame was unmoved. I wore the unmatched penny loafers, thereby ending my brief stay at the cool kids’ table.
A Fashion Trend?
Nowadays, things are different. USA Today recently reported that Nordstrom is selling dirty, taped-up sneakers – for $530. Note, however, that these come in pairs. I can just hear my mother now. Actually, had this been the case back then, she might have sold my one bad shoe, and I might have gotten a brand-new pair.
The photo above is of the Bass Penny Loafer, the ultimate classic. I highly doubt mine were Bass. You can still get them; here’s a link to women’s penny loafers at the Bass Factory Outlet. Just don’t run in them.⧉