Saturday, November 22, 2008

John Mozeliak goes shoe shopping, part 2

John Mozeliak's family and closest friends sat quietly in the living room awaiting his return from the office. When he opened the door, he was startled by the presence of the group. "Hello, there!" he greeted them. He limped slowly across the floor and dropped his keys in the brass candy dish sitting atop the desk in the foyer. 

"You're walking kinda funny, son," John's father remarked. "Everything okay?" 

John stopped in his tracks. "Everything's fine, dad. I just, um, well I sprained my ankle or something. It's funny, you know, they're waxing all the floors in the building, and I didn't see the wet spot, and--" 

"Enough lies, John," his wife interrupted. "I asked all these people to be here today because we want you to get help. You need help, John." 

John took a painful step backward and grimaced. "Is this an intervention?" he asked through clenched teeth. He closed his eyes and bit his lower lip to keep from crying out as his feet began to throb inside his shoes. He didn't know how much longer he could stand there, but realized that if he took off his shoes now he would be forced to admit that he did have a problem. 

"Look at yourself, John. You're a mess. You're not fine." His wife stood from the couch and walked over to where John was standing, then took his hand in hers. "We all love you, John, and we just want what's best for you... for your feet, John." 

His sister joined the couple and added, "You think you can fake it. You think that if you act like everything's fine and nothing's wrong that somehow no one will notice. Or maybe you think it will fix itself. Well it won't, John. This problem is not going to go away. You can't just ignore it, you have to do something." 

John dropped his head and stared at the floor. Tears began to fall down his cheeks, a combination of the raw emotions he was experiencing as well as the stabbing, unbearable pain in his feet. He bent over and lowered himself to the floor. "You're right," he sobbed. "I thought I could work through it. I thought if I broke them in it would be okay. But it didn't work. It just kept getting worse." 

"Sure, John," his wife reassured him. "We know the dress shoes are killing your feet. They're too new and too inflexible. They may be okay to wear for short periods of time, but you wear them all day." 

"You're right," he agreed. "I'll cut back. I'll only wear them for important meetings and special occasions." 

"Good, John," his wife said. "But... well, what about your running shoes, John?" 

He gasped. "My running shoes?" His face showed the disbelief he was feeling. His wife sat down on the floor beside him and gently rubbed his arm, trying to calm him. 

"Yes, John, your running shoes," she said softly. "They're falling apart. They have stains and holes, and the sole has nearly come off the left one. You need some new ones, John." 

"But I love those shoes," John pleaded. "There's nothing wrong with them that a little polish and some new laces couldn't fix. Besides, running shoes are expensive. I really think it's best to just wear the same pair until they completely fall apart. That way--" 

His wife interrupted him again. "Stop it, John. They have fallen apart. Please face the facts, honey. You know I'm only saying this because I care about you," she gestured toward the rest of the group, "because we all care about you." 

His golf buddy, Steve, stood up and spoke. "John," he said, "we've been friends a long time, and you know I don't usually go around sticking my nose into other people's business, but look at yourself, man. You're in pain. You're limping around like a fool, and when we golf you can't even get your putts straight because you can't stop scratching your feet. It's time for some new golf shoes, buddy. They're ruining your life." 

"Your sandals are done, too," added Sandy, the neighbor, and her husband Jack nodded his head in agreement. "You've glued them and duct taped them and sewn them, but that strap just won't stay on. You need to give up on the sandals, John. You're only going to end up with more dog poop on your feet." 

John's kids, Suzie and Bobby, stood up next and Bobby said, "Dad, we know how much you love those loafers, and they are nice, but they're only hurting your feet. They give you blisters and bruises. Every time you wear them you swear it'll be the last time, but after a while you forget, and then you end up wearing them again and getting blisters again. It's a vicious cycle, dad, and it's gotta stop." 

"Is that it?" asked John as he glanced around the room. 

"Well, no," said his mother from the back of the room. She made her way towards John as she spoke. "You know how every Sunday morning you sit on the sun porch and relax with your coffee and newspaper?" 

"No." John almost whispered the single syllable. 

"Yes, John," his mother replied. "The slippers. They have to go. They are dirty and worthless and they smell. Why can't you throw them in the garbage where they belong?" 

"But--" John began. 

"No buts, John. Let the slippers go. It's time. They're ready to leave." 

John slumped against the wall and put his hands up over his face as he choked back the bile that was threatening to come up. He realized at that moment that he would have to make some changes, but he wasn't happy about it. Maybe his family and friends were right, though. Maybe his life would be better if he took better care of his feet. 

To be continued again...