Real-Life Hobbit

When I was growing up, we didn't have a lot of money. "Attention K-Mart shoppers" was a frequent phrase uttered over the PA system, to give you a frame of reference. (Younger readers, K-Mart is like Wal-Mart before Wal-Mart was Wal-Mart.) Unfortunately, the quality of goods to be obtained there was not always the best. Do you know what foot stones are? Where some really shitty shoes sometime (like the kind you'd buy at K-Mart) and the sharp pains you feel beneath the soles of your feet are foot stones. That's what I got from a $10 pair of shoes from K-Mart.

My mother's response when I told her I couldn't walk any more and needed new shoes? Let's go back to K-Mart and get a new pair. Yeah, no. Let's go get some real shoes. Unfortunately real shoes back then cost pretty similar to what real shoes cost now. A pair of shoes for a ten year old would cost you $40 on the affordable side. And of course, this is the age of Air Jordans where everyone else was wearing $120 shoes. But we were poor and $40 usually got me yelled at plenty, thanks.

One year the search for shoes proved so difficult that I almost could not find any that we could afford. This meant that I spent a good portion of my time barefoot. That tradition continues today. The first thing I do when I get home is take off my shoes and socks. I don't like wearing them. They smother my feet and trap me in and really, what do I need shoes for? I'm not walking over hot coals or jagged rocks.

My wife likes to call me her hobbit, and there may be some truth to that. At work, me being in my own cube with high walls, if I'm really focused on an important project and I don't want any distractions, I'll take off my shoes. I leave my socks on because I'm at work and all, but if I could...oh, I would.

And in case you're curious, I'm at work on my lunch hour right now and I am not wearing my shoes. Wheeeeeeeeee!