Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Single Shoe in the Road

I don’t lay any personal claim to the Single Shoe story. We’ve all been driving down the highway and seen the Single Shoe. We’ve all wondered about the Single Shoe. But mostly, we all just disregard the Single Shoe. My wife will say something like, “Oh, some teenagers having too much fun.” Or I’ll say, “Those lovers were in a real hurry don’t you think?”
But recently, I’ve come up with a couple of different theories to this mystery.
Theory #1: The shoe’s owner was actually caught up in “the rapture.” Probably behind that yucca over there you’ll find the other shoe. His pants will be stuck to the sap on a limb of a nearby pine. The wallet that fell out of his pants will show that he’s an organ donor. Fat lot of good his promise to donate his leftover flesh is going to do for the next-on-the-list kidney patient in Lawrence, Kansas. His “WWJD?” t-shirt, no doubt, fell into the river, so is probably halfway to the Mississippi by now if some beaver isn’t lining his lodge with it and pondering the state of his immortal soul. His Bible will be under a bush, (flung open to John 3:16, as I believe that God has a sharp-edged sense of irony, if not a downright inscrutable sense of humor.) His underwear will already be drawing flies wherever they fell. (The “Rapturee” having messed himself from the surprise of suddenly flying upwards while his clothes fell off and the angels sang.) If we weren’t going 75 mph, we could poke around and find these pieces of evidence that would validate my theory. Alas, I’m a little afraid that I’d prove myself right. Then where would I be? “Left Behind,” I guess…
Theory #2: More likely, the single shoe belonged to a lonely road warrior, like myself, driving to some unknown, and never arrived-at destination who suddenly got a bad case of terminal foot itch.
Unable to tough it out or scrape the bottom of his shoe against anything without slamming on the brakes, he finally screams hysterically, and bends down to rip off the offending shoe. While attempting to yoga his foot into his lap so he can go at the itch with the rat-tail comb out of his back pocket, he loses control of his Neverlost™-equipped Taurus rental car, and trebuchets his Hertz chariot off the shoulder of the road. As the car flips end over end toward the (inevitable) concrete bridge abutment, the shoe flies out the open window and is spared the fiery carnage that will consume anything left in the car.
Meanwhile, the somehow-sexy-while-mechanical voice of the Neverlost™ computer personality calmly informs the driver that he has missed his turn. The salesman smiles dreamily as he tumbles, rationalizing to his panicking mind that slaking the awful thirst of that foot itch was worth the dreadful and final cost of the scratching.
Since the car burst into a micro-thermo-nuclear fireball hundreds of yards past the shoe lying in the road, the rookie highway patrolman, who is first at the scene, does not connect the shoe to the disaster as he stares in dumb horror at the carnage. In fact no one notices the shoe until I drive past and wonder of its story.
And no one ever notices the small iridescent beetle that crawls out of the freshly-flung shoe. If anyone had seen the beetle, they would have sworn he was wearing an insectoid version of a feces-eating grin on what passes for his face, as he heads for the Motel 6 just up the road. They’ve left the light on for him, but he’s pretty confident he can find a dark place in which to hide. Maybe some underwear someone has left on the floor. Or maybe another shoe. That last one sure proved interesting.


Chelsa said...

What about the shoes flung over the wires I see all over town?

Pops on the Ridgetop said...

Not sure what that means in today's "real world" - maybe some kind of gang initiation? Or kids who've just bought new Velcro shoes and are proclaiming their freedom from the tyranny of shoelaces? Or just old shoes that they didn't want anymore and thought it'd be cool to heave 'em up on the highwire...

In one of my favorite books/movies, "Big Fish," shoes were tossed up on the wire at the edge of town to demonstrate their owner's desire to put down roots and never leave. It was a simple gesture meant to show a commitment to the simple life. But it soon morphed into a sinister symbol of the self-imposed imprisonment of the townsfolk that was then overcome and rejected by the hero of the story.
Because of this, I choose to believe that the shoes-on-a-wire signify that the past owners have chosen to walk away from their old life and have moved on to their next great adventure. In their desire to start totally fresh & anew, they have abandoned all their past possessions, including the one thing that would have been of most use to them as they walk off down the road to their new life; creating an unnecessary, but very symbolic, hardship in a noble effort to PROVE their resolve to leave every vestige of their old life behind.
This reminds me of a key scene in one of my other favorite movies, “The Jerk,” where Steve Martin leaves his once pathetic, then opulent, then pathetic again life and his love – played by Bernadette Peters (what a JERK to leave her!) As he leaves, with his pajama pants down around his ankles, he says, “I don’t need anything. Except maybe this lamp. And this thermos. And my faithful dog S---head (who then snarls at the Jerk) – well maybe I don’t need him…” And then he shuffles off to his new life as a homeless drunk.

I wonder what the psycho-analysts out there would say about the fact that two of my favorite movies revolve around scenes of starting over.

Chelsa said...

Good said!

Duane Hallock said...

So I'm driving down the road yesterday and see a single shoe right there on the center yellow line. Having just discovered your blog, I begin thinking about your post giving various options as to how that shoe actually got there. I'm caught up in some philosophical dialogue with myself and probably not paying enough attention to where I'm going. (No, I didn't drive into the curb.)

Anyway, I love how you take the ordinary and write with such elegance about the seemingly trivial things in life. Wherever your life journey takes you as you move away from the restaurant industry, don't go too far from blogging. The world needs your perspective.