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Zan Thompson

High Tops, Laces--Fit to be Tied

November 01, 1987|Zan Thompson

I won't be leaving the house much anymore. I certainly won't be going to the dime store. I'll just be scuffling around the house watching the cliff and talking to Peaches and Mrs. Goldfarb, the small dog and the aged cat.

Patsy thinks it would be better if I confine my travels to the market. That's because I got into a shouting match--oh, all right, a fight--in the dime store.

I needed a nice, mundane card of snaps to replace a missing one on a dress cuff. And since notions departments in great big department stores seemed to have gone the way of the purchasing power of the dime, I went to a big store that sells all sorts of findings, which is what they call such things as snaps in the garment trade.

I found my snaps after wandering all over the store and marched back to the cash register counter where a line of maybe 10 people waited. I stood in line while people bought candy, plants, Halloween decorations and, I swear, a canary.

In front of me was a man wearing work clothes and huaraches . He was holding a pair of high-top tennis shoes, which he was waiting to buy. He turned his head to the left and I saw that his eye on that side was totally white, obviously unsighted. When I lined up behind him, I said something useless and time-filling such as, "busy place."

He turned around, looked confused and didn't say anything. Either he saw no need to continue such an aimless conversation or he didn't speak English, which seemed more likely. The line was inching along and finally he was second from the cash register and freedom. Just then, a woman marched firmly past us to another cash register 20 feet away and said loudly, "The next person in line come over here."

With that, the line scattered like quail, hurrying over to the woman's cash register. The new woman waited on a customer who had been toward the back of the line and then the man went to her counter. She leaned over the counter and yelled, "I said just the next person in line. There is only one line."

All us line-standers began to mill about nervously except the man, who just stood in front of the counter holding out his tennis shoes. The woman then repeated her roaring command straight at him. He looked uncertainly around with his one good eye and I said, "He was next in line right in front of me."

The woman said, "I'll take the next person in line." I repeated my statement but this time, I added, "Take his money for his tennis shoes, for heaven's sake. He's half blind and he doesn't speak English."

The woman and I exchanged a few more pleasantries until someone behind me in the first line said, "Move, will you? You're next."

Another line-stander said, "This is worse than the supermarket. Why don't they put on another checker?" By now, there was general crowd noise and mutinous mutterings but the woman did take the man's money and give him his shoes.

I started briskly for the door when the this-is-worse-than-the-supermarket man called to me, "Hey, wait a minute. Butt out with the guy with the tennis shoes. Besides, your shoe is untied."

I stopped in my tracks, not wanting him to yell at me anymore and besides, my shoe was untied. I was wearing my pink yuppie running shoes and they have laces about two feet long.

Outside the store, I put the foot with the dangling laces up on a ledge on the front of the building. Before I could tie it, the supermarket man came up to me and said, "Here, let me show you what my uncle does."

I had just used my brief candle of courage for my friend and his tennis shoes so I said, "Thank you."

The man tied my shoe and took the dangling ends of the bow and shoved them down the inside of my arch.

"Thank you," I said, and "please thank your uncle, too."

We smiled at each other with a mutual sense of do-goodery and I hobbled clear around the corner out of sight before I stopped to pull out the golf ball-sized lump of shoe laces. The moral is stay out of altercations in stores and keep your boots laced, baby.

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