This wasn’t what I had planned to post today but something happened this week that got me going. So here goes. I was driving down Highway 96 South and right there smack in the middle of the road sat a shoe without a person in sight. Now I don’t know about you but every single time I see one lone shoe lying in the road it sets me to wondering. How did someone come to lose just a single shoe? My imagination gets all stirred up and I start picturing all sorts of scenarios. My first go-to is imagining a terrible car wreck and the shoe is the sole survivor after the major clean up (and, no, I didn’t mean that to be a pun but it’s certainly convenient, huh?) Or maybe somebody got mad at somebody and in a fit of rage slung just one shoe out of the window or hurled it at that somebody’s head and missed and the shoe went flying out the window. Or some poor mom driving down the road with a bunch of kids in the car doesn’t notice that one of the little miscreants has rolled the window down and dropped some annoying sibling’s shoe out. Mom just yells, “Roll that window up!” never realizing that a shoe has gone missing. And much later when hunting for the missing shoe the perp (well, that’s what they call them on Law & Order) isn’t about to pipe up with a clue – or maybe the little devil forgot all about it by the time they got where they were going anyway and could honestly say they didn’t know what happened to So-and-So’s shoe. Of course, someone could have been running and run right out of one of their shoe. That could happen, right? But what would make them not stop to pick it up? It’s hardly likely they didn’t notice they were running with just one shoe on. Well, maybe if it’s a flip flop (and I’ve seen plenty of them abandoned on the road) but a tennis shoe? With laces? How do you run out of a tennis shoe and not notice? And if I’d been documenting all the one shoe incidents I’ve seen I’m fairly sure tennis shoes are the most common. And if somebody ran right out of their shoe – WTH??? A bear was chasing them? Or a really badass motorcycle gang, maybe? It had to be something pretty darn scary, that’s for sure. And, of course, there’s always the DRUNK possibility. Somebody going somewhere was drunk and lost a shoe while doing only God-knows-what. And now they are either sober and don’t know what in the world could have happened and they are not going to tell a single soul that they lost a shoe doing God-knows-what OR they are still drunk and have no idea they are missing a shoe.
So here’s the thing. I have done and been a lot of things – including some of the aforementioned but I have NEVER lost just one shoe. Never. Nor has my husband or my children – even with the windows rolled down. Furthermore, I have conducted a poll among my friends who have been willing to entertain my one shoe obsession and not even one has ever ‘fessed up to losing a single shoe. The conundrum has perplexed me to no end. Once I actually “googled” it – because what else is Google for? And guess what?!? I am not the only person who is confounded by the mystery of the one shoe. If you don’t believe me then Google it yourself – or take my word on this. I learned a lot from my Google search and one thing is certain: the one shoe phenomenon is wide spread.
For starters the Lone Shoe query even has its own section on Wikipedia (see Abandoned Footwear) where the author sites such famous one shoe theories as Cinderella (remember her?), Julie Ann Shapiro’s book “Jen Zen and the One Shoe Diaries”, and J.K.Rowling’s abandoned boot that is used as a “portokey” in one of her Harry Potter escapades. But none of these characters are real people who lost real shoes so I moved on. As it turns out Facebook has several pages devoted to this sole obsession (and, yes, pun intended!) And yes, indeed, there are actually Facebook pages that you can join regarding this shoe peculiarity (which I may or may not have joined). Other bloggers have also addressed this fascination. Cecil Adams in “The Straight Dope” posed the question and had readers offer opinions which led to a lengthy assortment of responses – one of which includes that perhaps they are sprouted from seeds (not kidding). I also read that an author named David Feldman waxed on for seven pages on this very topic in a book entitled “When Do Fish Sleep” – although I haven’t read it so I can’t say what insight he might actually offer. And I also found someone way more obsessed than me – this person actually collects solo shoes! Now THAT is what I call a REAL obsession! And crazier still – get this: On Friday, January 2, 2009 thousands of assorted shoes – from bath slippers to boots – were scattered across a quarter mile of Miami’s Palmetto Expressway southbound lanes creating chaos and a huge traffic tie up. As far as I can tell there was never an explanation for this avalanche of shoes. The cleanup cost approximately $5,000 according to the Florida Department of Transportation. On one hand the good news was that all those shoes got donated to folks in Haiti. On the other hand the discards were not single shoes but pairs of them – luckily for those folks in Haiti. So just when I was thinking I’d found an explanation it turns out I just uncovered another shoe mystery. And I’m not going down THAT road. I’m gonna stick with the one lone shoe phenomenon. It seems I have quite a lot of company.
Oh, yes. One more thing before you go: if you happen to be one of those (apparently) thousands of folks who have actually lost just one single shoe some time some how doing God-know-what, PLEASE get in touch with me. I would love to hear your story. Otherwise, I may or may not see you on Facebook.
When I was a child in North East England there always seemed to be one white stiletto on the top of a bus shelter on a Sunday morning. A mystery that has bothered me for years and years. John
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