My Bostonian shoes have become rain shoes. They’re not really rain shoes. It’s just that every time I wear them it rains. Every time. And I don’t mean rain. I mean flash floods, the kind that send your cellphone buzzing, blaring, and beeping with alarms. I get caught in the rain, my clothes get soaked, and my leather shoes turn into cowhide sponges with soles and brown laces.
It happened the other night after class. I had to trudge my way unprotected though a waterfall that was accompanied by lightning and thunder. I made the mistake of taking seriously the weather forecast earlier that day and so left my raincoat and hat at home. I arrived at my apartment five blocks away, soaked, my shoes twice as heavy as when I had left for class. I didn’t take them off as much as peel them off.
When I tell people this they often advise me to pack an umbrella. “That way,” they explain with utmost concern, “your head and shoulders will be covered.”
Thank you, but I hold umbrellas in contempt. They are freakish, endoskeletal contraptions–corsets for the head–especially those frivolous, collapsible ones with floral patterns that implode with the first roundhouse of wind. On the other extreme are so-called golf umbrellas, which, as the name implies, should be used on golf courses only, not city sidewalks. You could blind somebody with that thing. Get my pernt?
I knew a guy who spent four hundred dollars on a “gentleman’s umbrella” with a leather handle. He ended up having the same problem I have, soaked leather, except on a four-hundred-dollar handle. The logic eluded me. We don’t talk anymore.
But this post isn’t about umbrellas. It’s about the bond that exists between my Bostonians and rain. That’s not to say that it rains only when I wear them. No, it can rain any time the clouds and chem trails decide. That’s their business. But when I do wear them, it will rain with near-certain probability.
This bond includes a ritual sequence that goes like this: I wear the shoes. It rains. They get soaked and discolored. I return home, let them dry out for two or three days, clean them with a cotton rag and polish them with a shoe polish like Kiwi. Then I put them in the closet and wear them again after checking the weather, at which point the ritual starts all over again. Da capo. Or should I say like clockwork? Groundhog Day?
There’s something going on with time, rhythm, and wavelength. I believe it has to do with a undiscovered law of quantum physics. I noticed it at first on my home computer, which brings up the screensaver just as I come back to it after having been away for a while. “A while” is tricky, because it doesn’t seem to matter whether I am away for a phone call, to stretch my legs, or to turn off the kettle. The computer always goes to screensaver just as I come back into the room and approach the keyboard. Again, Groundhog Day.
Whatever this thing is, it manifests itself in other ways. Elevators, doors, trains, buses, the appearance of a guy known as “Bird Man,” because he wears a top hat with feathers and rides his bicycle around the neighborhood while imitating bird calls. These follow a rhythm that more often than not clashes with mine, which may have something to do with my growing invisibility (see Ye Olde Cheese Shop).
I suppose if I figured it out mathematically, I could write a paper about the long sought-after unified field theory. Actually, I don’t know how to do that, not having paid enough attention in Mrs. Goldstein’s 8:00 am calculus class, which is another story. Yes, 8:00 am.
Perhaps I can gain philosophical insight from my soaked shoes. What might that be? Try as hard as I might, it will rain when it rains and my shoes will get wet whether I want them to or not. I can take preventive measures like wearing sneakers, a raincoat, and hat. Or ignoring the weather report. But these merely delay the inevitable. Besides, I’m done changing shoes at the office.
How nerdy can you get?