Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Case of the Lonely Sneakers

The mailbag is getting a little bit of action lately. Today's question from a friend in St. Louis is both extremely deep and utterly pointless at the same time. Here it is:

So, in every city that I have ever driven through in the United States, I notice the shoes on the side of the road or occasionally in the median. 99% of the time they are mens shoes. On two separate occasions I have seen a child's shoe, but they were boys shoes also. I have never seen two shoes in the street - tied together and thrown over the power lines is an entirely different story. Today I saw a single black flip flop.

Quite often the shoes are work boots and so I figure they have fallen off a truck. But when I see a really nice mens Nike shoe, or a leather sandal, I really wonder... what the heck makes a person lose just one shoe? Wouldn't you notice? Are there medical emergencies that would cause a person to remove their shoe quickly - or maybe a paramedic does a routine foot test and they just aren't any good at remembering to bring the shoe along in the ambulance?

I can see kids throwing their own shoes out the window, but their parents shoes?

I used to think that it would be the kind of documentary that Paul Buckner (Mad About You) would do. He was always filming things like the Koala Bear chewing on his Eucalyptus. It could however be rather harrowing to document it on film while playing in traffic and all.

Anyway, I am interested in any opinions or expert knowledge on the subject.

Sincerely, THE Beckster

Oh you've definitely come to the right place for expert knowledge. This is a long one, so I'll take it in pieces. First, the reader seems intrigued that 99% of the lonely sneakers (a good name for a rock band) are male shoes. This one is actually fairly intuitive. Statistically speaking, only 1% of women will ever willingly part with their footwear under any conditions. In fact, since 1960 the amount of space taken up in the average home by female shoes has tripled. By 2050, most men will be sleeping in the garage because the shoes will have taken over. 1 out of every 2 men will be perfectly ok with that as long as there is access to cable TV and a toilet - preferably in the same room.
And now, on to the crux of the reader's question. Why the unmatched shoes? There are many answers. Here are the 3 major reasons in reverse order of prevalence:

- Sudden Onset Athlete's Foot - you just hope this hits the passengers and not the driver. All you can think of is to get the shoe (and the toxic sock) off and as far away from you as possible.
- The single guy who, while on a date, suddenly realizes he's wearing a hiking boot on his left foot and a flip flop on the right (or some other combination that made perfect sense during date prep.) A married man typically has his outfit thoroughly audited by his wife before he leaves the house each day, but the single guy is not so lucky. Better to subtly throw both offending shoes out the window and claim that it's "cool to be barefoot." The date is effectively over at this point.
- The old "I'll bet you can't hit that sign with your shoe while we're going 50 MPH" trick - never underestimate the combination of a stupid dare and the male ego.

Hopefully that helps you understand that most things that don't make sense usually have "guys" as a root cause.

Thanks for the questions, Beckster!

If any of you have questions or comments, please send 'em in to henrythefrog@gmail.com, and invite your friends to play along as well.

1 comment:

agm said...

Great question and answer!! I admit I'm an unusual female, but sometimes I walk around my house with one shoe on just because I get distracted by something on TV (as in, "Hey, look at those cute meerkats! or "I love it when Andy on The Office plays his banjo!") or I get an unexpected phone call. Actually, I don't just have this problem with shoes. If I'm distracted, I may end up forgetting to brush the back of my hair, roll up my other sleeve, or put mascara on my left eye.

But again, I am still a female, so all of my lonely shoes only hang out in my house. I would never leave my babies on the side of the road.

Hey, today I'm listed as being from MI. I think yesterday was IL. How mysterious and exciting!

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