Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Promise

It was almost twenty years ago in in Mentone, Alabama where I learned, for the second time, how to tie my shoes. You know when the first way seems right to you, of course, until you learn a more efficient way? This is that story, and then some.

I had these god-awful cheap hiking boots of brown and green suede with gortex. The laces were nylon, and any friction they endured in the wearing process caused them to come untied quickly. There was no point in my asserting any level of stylishness on hikes, or to win over my companions, when I had to stop and re-tie my laces every fifty yards or so. I was non-plussed and feeling self conscious (though I did not know the extent to which at the time).
In my hour of dire need, John Walter Green came to my rescue. I sat fiddling with the good-for-nothing laces, cursing them when he walked across the cabin floor and asked if I’d like some help. He crouched in front of me to a chair and patted his knee-"put your foot here" he said.
He assessed the way I had tied them and said "that’s what I thought..." I interrupted- "I need a double knot, don’t I?"
"Nope" he said, "you need a simple knot that will not give way".
"Here, let me show you" he began as he untied his own giant shoe.
"You take the laces and wrap them like so, one over the other, to secure them. Ok, now, tie the knot like you learned in kindergarten; pull one side out, as if to untie it, loop it over and tie it again"-

"There," he said, satisfied.

He then looked me square in the eye. "I promise you, it will not budge."

Folks, I only have a couple pair of shoes that require lacing up; every time I gather the nylon or cloth laces, I can hear John’s confident guarantee; what joy it gives me to say it is to this very hour, a promise kept.

No comments: