Mom (Pat) is on a cruise to Alaska. She flew to Washington yesterday and boarded her vessel in the afternoon. Now mind you, Mom is 80. She is smart, sprightly, and sophisticated, and to complete the alliteration: sometimes somewhat silly. Silly is a good thing. Like many of us, Mom has worked very hard in life and gives a good portion of it back in dollars, time, and care. But she is also a traveler, and reserves some folding money for fun and adventure, as she should. She and her buddy are up north for 2 weeks. I expect not to hear from her.
But why silly?? Consider walking shoes.
“Beck… what do you think of my shoes?” I look down and observe her serviceable, gray, Danish, Eccos and wonder how to best answer this question. Eccos are considered top drawer in circles other than mine since a new pair costs about a buck forty and up. But the company is solid, at least on paper, and I am impressed with their culture, at least on paper. Here is a link to their “social responsibility” tab. Also, you can check out their shoes. http://us.shop.ecco.com/heritage.html?subject=heritage-social-responsibility
Anyway, Mom has determined her old Ecco shoes are just not up for the rigors of boat life in Alaska. Meaning, she is well aware of the miles she will be walking (usually over 10,000 steps a day!) but she wants to be fashionable as well as comfortable. They look just fine to me.
“Mom … why don’t you just pop those in the washer or sink and freshen them up a bit! That way, you know you have a reliable pair.”
“Well, I dunno. They just look old.”
Even after two, brief lines of conversation, I know we are heading out and she finds a trendy running store up Falls Road in the city. We say “up” when heading north. Perhaps you do too. She is determined to buy the perfect new walking shoes, but realizes Ecco models are not easy to come by in person. She has researched an alternative brand, Asics, and is on a mission. Not sure what happened exactly, but the really nice folks at Falls Road Running Store- http://www.baltimorerunning.com -took one look at her small frame and old shoes, heard that she needed arch support, and took her down the “modernist” aisle of totally amazing and colorful kicks. Price points were not discussed.
“Beck … what do you think of these?” Her once gray-clad feet are now sporting a pink, orange, blue, and some version of green Brooks. Personally, I think they rock. But if you know my mom (or yours) she was horrified. The gracious yet confused team member brought out pair after pair that were in her size, close to her size, wide, narrow, arched, somewhat arched, but to a pair, brilliantly colorful.
“Beck… what do you think I should do?” This is just a bad question all around, inviting multiple potential responses. I am secretly chuckling because I darn well know she wants to find a conservative, octogenarian shoe and avoid looks, but I challenge her. “Mom, I think these are all really fashionable and tell the world how modern and fun you are! Are they comfortable?” A silly question on my part. Of course they are comfortable, but that’s not the point.
I finally give in and agree with her, no surprise there, and tell the poor young man we must move on. Nothing here will do. Later, I console Mom by reminding her that the athletic shoe industry has simply not gone far enough to satisfy the “older woman” who needs comfort, support, but perhaps just a hint of color. She agrees. Actually, this might be true.
A few days ago, I get this exuberant message on my phone. “Beck… I found my shoes! I drove up to Towson and found a great pair at Nordstrom. I’ll show them to you when I get back.” Asics perhaps? And so somewhere on a ship in Alaska this evening or tomorrow, my mom will be running around with a good friend, cell phone, drink in hand, bright eyes, and respectable shoes.
I’m just not sure how I feel about all this.
Here are her two new pair! The left is a bit racy I think. The right? Classic.