That Kryptonite

You have a thing for comfy shoes. You keep saying that, but people have no idea how deeply rooted this conviction is for you. You could write a book about it, something in the lines of ‘The Know Thyself Footwear Guide … For Dummies‘. (Don’t you dare ape. I’ll sue for copyrights.) But you would still admit that there have been moments where you lost your bearing.

Not that you’re not into trends, but for one reason or other your footwear choices tilt on the comfy-affordable rather than couture-catwalk side of the scale. You’ve been enduring jests from friends and family about your ‘favorite pair’, which you intend to wear to its last shreds. But recently, a colleague’s poise has been drastically transformed by this pair of new heels she has been strutting in the office. They happen to be the rage right now. You could not help but take note. Also, your cousin – the one person who patiently endures all your idiosyncrasies through decades – finally breaks, and sympathetically gesturing at your feet whilst concealing grimace, suggests that you get yourself … something. You manage to politely wriggle out of the squirmy seat with stuttering logic. Soon after, however, as if by some multinational conspiracy theory, you realize that the shoe store right by the street corner on your way home from work recently allocated a spot for the brand on the front window display, where they have since been calling out your name. (You are sure you caught them winking at you yesterday.)

So now you look at your humble collection of shoes gathering fossil outside the door of your studio home and you wonder, ‘How long can I really pull this off? I mean ….’ Just then, a spider crawls out of one and dashes for the staircase. And just like that, your new yet barely articulated resolve gets the approval stamp. Plus it’s Christmas, and there’s been talk on TV about the need to appreciate self. It becomes crystal clear – like a scene in Limitless – how your annual bonus could be put to work.

The next time you’re in town you’re on autopilot. You have an out of body experience getting a new pair of heals for yourself. They cost a good portion of your stash, which means you can’t replace a much needed pair of Nikes just yet … you know, the reason why you don’t go for evening runs anymore? And what choice do you have, anyway? The heels have totally transformed you and given you a whole new vibe, says the husky dude shop assistant. You blush and ask him to bag them. You know that the tall slim mirrors mounted on the pillars are deceiving, but you indulge the fraud. It feels like the turning of a new leaf, the dawning of a new era quite aptly befitting the season. You get home giddy with excitement and try them on again. No, you weren’t dreaming. You introspect and find that even the mole-headed buyer’s-remorse is tipping his hat for you. You go to bed still smiling, wondering why you waited so long.

In comes Sunday church service, then a few dates, a hangout and maybe your sister’s graduation party, and slowly but surely the truth swallows you live, like a dark rainy cloud encroaching a spotless sky on a sunny day by the blue-green waters of South Coast, Mombasa. THE SHOES HURT! Double underscore! You’ve been withstanding hints and signs – a pinch here, a wobble there – but now the discomforts have morphed into sabre-toothed monsters, decapitating you when you should be at your best: when you were standing to give a speech at your sister’s party, or when he was checking you out while you walk in late for the dinner date… You have bitten your tongue to distract the pain so much there’ll be dark taste buds on the left side for life! You can’t stand them anymore and therefore, sadly, your big girly-girl sister is about to inherit them. (You love her to bits but, goodness, she’s gotten so many from you before already, that at this rate she is rendering you bankrupt! Okay, it’s not her fault, it’s you. … Same difference!) She has been checking you in them soon after sharing genuine surprise and congratulations for the upgrade when you visited the other day, while lazer-x-raying you for any looming second thoughts. After all these years she could read you like a book. She can’t even fake it anymore. Plus, she knows the drill. It was probably only a matter of time.

Thus, on this particular day you realize you can only take so much. You can only play along for so long. It is at the end of the year and the shoes have utterly ruined long awaited good times. The blister behind your left foot is at its skin’s end, and a red bunion is redirecting your right big toe eastward, now nearly at a forty-five degree angle. You paid a lot for them but … what is it they say about vanity again? You somberly dust them off and return them in their box and bag. Here we go again.

On the 1st of January, when the family gathers for lunch, or dinner, you will walk up to your sister while she is nibbling on beloved pork rib in the living room and damp them, with all the courtesy you can rally, on her lap. She will look at the package then at your face, still too cautious and mindful of your feelings to openly celebrate. You will manage a smile, maybe a kiss on her cheek, and eventually mutter a ‘Happy New Year’, before sitting down by a corner to deliberate at length on how to actualize that fresh pair of snickers, against the backdrop of your sister’s cheery exclamations.

That is what I call a kryptonite: a dismembering fetish you can’t quite let go off despite multiple costly escapades, simply because you can’t for the life of you understand why they can pull it off while you can’t; that it does not work for you! And while mine may neither be in the shoe category, nor able to be passed on to any of my kin, the repercussions are just the same – a downward spiraling-twilight zone-dilapidating-quicksand effect. Stay focused!

Happy holidays, everyone! 🙂


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