If you’ve never read Ray Bradbury’s summer opus Dandelion Wine, you’re missing out on a literary masterpiece. However, this is a book that simply should not be read in any other season. You can certainly appreciate the quality of the writing while curled up under a blanket in the chill of wintertime, but once you get past Labor Day, the magic of the book is gone for another eight months. I bring this up because an early chapter in that book has the main character, Douglas Spaulding, longing for a new pair of shoes.
“The tennis shoes felt like it always feels the first time every year wading in the slow waters of the creek and seeing your feet below, half an inch further downstream, with refraction, rather than the real part of you above water…The people that made the shoes must have watched a lot of winds blow the trees and a lot of rivers going down to the lakes. Whatever it was, it was in the shoes, and it was summer.”
For the longest time, I’ve bought my shoes from malls, department stores, or most soul-crushing of all, outlet shops. Can you believe that until yesterday I hadn’t once set foot inside Friedman’s? The shame. But as soon as I walked into this store–no, emporium is the only word that appropriately describes the place–this chapter of Bradbury came rushing to the front of my mind. The enchantment that is found in a new pair of shoes is somehow already worn thin when plucking a pair off the discount rack at Kohl’s.
But here, every pair held limitless possibilities. The basketball shoes would have you leaping over dogs, fences, or even houses. The two-toned Stacy Adams would make a night of salsa dancing seem effortless, even without lessons. The hiking boots had already been to the mountaintop and would easily take you there. The Voltron shoes–sweet lord, there are VOLTRON SHOES!!!! When I found out that they came with this:
Part of me really wanted to buy these sneakers. Badly enough that I contemplated whether I’d be taken seriously if I showed up at a city council hearing wearing shoes emblazoned with the Black Lion, Keith. (I know I wouldn’t have credibility of any sort if I wore anything with Princess Allura. I mean, come ON.) As it turns out though, each pair of Voltron shoes comes only with one corresponding piece of the toy. I would need to buy all five to get the action figure. Maybe another time.
The magic Douglas Spaulding’s shoes made him feel like “antelopes…gazelles.” Me, I’ll settle for a pair that hearkens images of giant mechanized lions.
(Photos by Jeff Skrenes)