The El Cheapo Award Goes To . . .
The Back Page with Bruce Steinberg –
This time last year (writing in May, 2017), my wife asked me to pleeeeassse!!! – throw away those shoes. This year, same shoes, same request, a lot more use of the letters “e” and “s” in her “please” as well as extra exclamation points. I don’t know how old the shoes are, surely this century, and possibly this decade. I do wash them, what’s left of them, although there’s an aroma ingrained in what’s left of them that keeps them in the garage even post-wash and bleaching, which is significant considering we keep our cats’ two litter boxes inside the house.
The author’s shoes, due for a dab or two of Gorilla Glue. Bruce Steinberg photo
Is it okay to say they’re Saucony shoes? Will some Saucony executive ring his lawyers to issue a denial, or will they brag like Toyota over a Corolla with more than a million miles on the odometer? Guess that depends on what the Corolla looks like. My Saucony shoes kind of have more than a little rust on them.
I’ve got new-looking running shoes. I say new-looking and not new because these other shoes are at least two years old. I simply do not use them, so they only look new. The old ones are just too … too, well, like the skin over my bones. Oh, I tried those new shoes, with their new heel and sole padding, and suffered a soft-tissue injury right away. My old (ancient?) Saucony shoes, advertised as minimalist shoes as minimalist shoes when new so long ago, are now more minimalist than ever. They’ve never hurt me, so I won’t hurt them. I’ve told my wife, “It’s like they’re alive.”
She sniffs at the sight of them, skews her nose, and says, “I have no doubt.”
Other runners coming from either direction like to tell me there’s a running shoe sale going on at Dick Pond’s.
“That’s where I bought these!” I say, although I doubt any salesperson at any Dick Pond store would admit it, or admit to having anything for sale more minimalist than my loyal Saucony shoes. Hey, I’ve broken these in for a long time. There’s no need to start over.
Besides, there are other conveniences. For example, my car key fob fell from my pocket last fall and, with the shoe sole separating from the tip, I was able to pick it up with the toe of my left shoe. Sometimes the same tip begins gathering grass on trail runs, but with stones, what it picks up, it spits right out. These shoes just know me that well.
Of my five pairs of cross country skis, the newest is 6 years old, which I bought when they were 3 years old. I admit, yes, to being an el cheapo. At garden shops, I hurry to the on-sale section where I convince myself I’m there to rescue Charlie Brown trees and such. I’m not good for anybody’s economy. Well, wait – the Gorilla Glue and Duck Brand Duct Tape companies love me. El cheapos like me keep their country club dues paid up. I have Rossignol skate boots resurrected by Gorilla Glue, two years now. Some Peltonen skis from 1989 are on life-support via duct tape. I have ski clothes patching other ski clothes, using duct tape on the inside so you can hardly notice. There’s a certain level of pride, overcoming shame, that spurs this el cheapo on.
I’m proud to buy full-retail-price-new stuff for others, for Christmas, birthdays, and other holidays. The el cheapo attitude is for me and me alone. It’s a pride thing, a challenge that I would never inflict upon my affection for others.
We’re doing some new things for the house these days, remodeling, updating. I’ve been given my instructions: When it’s time to do the buying, it’s time for me to take me and my Saucony shoes, and go far, far away, for a very, very long run.
Can’t imagine why.