Every Thanksgiving the Jackson Zoo is free—no admission or parking. We aren’t huge fans of the zoo, but we are big fans of free. This is why a visit to the zoo has become an annual Thanksgiving tradition for our family.
The weather was sunny and warm and two of my three children hopped into the car without shoes. I had just gone on my longest barefoot run since hurting my foot last summer and decided my soles needed a break. It was only two miles, but my skin felt raw, nonetheless. So, I actually decided to wear shoes to the zoo.
As we started to walk through the gate, the lady at the ticket counter told us that our kids had to wear shoes in the zoo. My oldest son happened to have left a pair in the car, but Jonas, my youngest son, had nothing.
And then the most serendipitous thing I have ever experienced happened right there at the zoo. I heard my name from the parking lot. There was my friend Nichole, just leaving the zoo with her husband and two children, one of whom is my son’s age. Not only did he have on shoes that would fit, but they were a pair of coveted Air Jordans! Jonas’ friend was hesitant to just hand over his shoes, and really, who could blame him? People have shed blood over Air Jordans before and his mom was just asking him to hand them over with nothing in return. It was a great sacrifice and after a little bit of thought, he relented. What a friend!
We slipped those shoes on Jonas’ feet and walked into the zoo. Eight paces later, Jonas yanked them off and shoved them into my purse. Air Jordans or not, the animals weren’t wearing shoes, so Jonas didn’t think he needed to either.
S@#t happens and I stepped in it—with my bare foot! I’m in the middle of housetraining Beezus, our standard poodle puppy, and while I am happy to report that the poop I stepped in was located in our backyard, admittedly, it could have just as easily been in my living room, bedroom or entryway.
Now, I know what you’re saying: “See! I told you. This is why you should be wearing shoes, you nut.”
Perhaps. But tell me, my shod friend, have you ever stepped in poop before? Yes, you have. And when you did, it probably went something like this:
1. Step in poop.
2. Continue walking around tracking the poop wherever you go.
3. After a few minutes, your nose gets a whiff of what’s on the bottom of your shoe.
4. Announce that you smell dog poop and suggest to the people around you that they check their shoes. (Certainly you didn’t step in the poop.)
5. After all those around you report that their shoes are clean, your worst fear becomes reality. You—yes you—are the culprit. You stepped in the poop.
6. Scrape your shoe all over the pavement, desperately trying to get the poop off the bottom of your shoe.
7. Go home and rinse the bottom of your shoe off with the hose in your backyard.
And this is what happened when I stepped in the poop with my bare foot:
1. Step in poop.
2. Less than a millisecond later, brain registers warm, squishy sensation as fresh poop.
3. Say words inappropriate for this blog.
4. Hop over to the hose and wash off my foot.
I’d like to point out that unlike you shoe-wearing folks, I immediately knew what I stepped in as soon as I stepped in it, and therefore, I did not track the poop into my house or anywhere else. So I say, who’s the nut, now?
The carefree days of a mostly barefoot summer are over for my three children. The older two started school a week-and-a-half ago. The littlest one started preschool today. Like most kids going back to school, all three went sporting a new pair of shoes. Fortunately, “toe shoes” are in so my older two were excited to be getting a new pair of Vibram FiveFingers each. I shopped around online and found the cheapest price, which of course was still considerably more than shoes I could have gotten them at Payless Shoe Source. But minimalist styles are better for their feet, and their feet are definitely worth the extra expense.
Unfortunately, my preschooler could not get his feet into a pair of FiveFingers. Even if he had the dexterity required to maneuver each of his cute little toes into all of the toe slots, his bricks for feet wouldn’t fit. Instead, I bought him a pair of Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves about a size and a half bigger than he normally wears because they don’t come in wide. (Boo!) Vibram actually makes the soles of these shoes, but Trail Gloves have a normal toe box, which means he can easily wear socks.
My other two children, however, stink their shoes up every day with their sweaty feet. I throw those suckers in the wash as soon as they get home from school, because if I didn’t, you’d surely know about it. You could be in Australia sitting at your computer, eating your toast and Vegemite, reading my blog and suddenly your olfactory would be hit with the putrid smell of my children’s shoes. You’d cough and gag, and chunks of bread coated with salty vegetable spread would spew all over your computer screen. I wouldn’t do that to you, Fair Reader. I hope you appreciate that.
Now, to be clear, my kids aren’t any stinkier than the average hooligan running around the school yard. They take a shower every night and when barefoot all day long, their feet have no noticeable odor. But put those little puppies in a foot glove and let sweat-eating bacteria stew all day? Well, get back. The rotting flesh of a roadkill baking in the Mississippi sun is a pleasant perfume by comparison.