These past couple of weeks have been a bit on the drizzly side, and I’ve been standing around like a restless flamingo. Shoes make the man, the axiom goes, and when there’s a hole in the shoe it makes the man soggy.
My favorite pair of shoes is from the TOMS company, which sends a pair to a little international bare-footed kid for every pair that is purchased by an idealistic American consumer. I got these shoes two years ago, and up until recently they had seemed to retain their newness.
That is, until I was walking to class in the rain last week and became waterlogged from the bottom up.
A hole, it’s been said, is the only item to grow bigger when more is taken from it. Apparently my left shoe was harboring such a development.
Now I’m faced with a major, life-impacting dilemma. These are my favorite shoes, after all, but walking in the rain could create dire consequences.
You see, if I walk in the rain my left foot will get wet. And soggy feet, our mothers taught us, are what cause people to catch nasty colds.
But I can’t catch a cold. If I catch a cold I’ll lose my voice. And if I lose my voice I won’t be able to give my speeches. And these are very important speeches.
You see, I’m less than five weeks from graduating with a degree in communications. I’ve taken 400-level courses, dug through communication theory and conducted my own independent research. Yet I still haven’t completed my basic, 100-level, gen-ed public speaking requirements.
Physicists are still debating how the universe let this one slip by.
To catch up, I am now working to complete my speech competency obligations, which will include giving two speeches within the next couple of weeks.
But no voice, no speeches.
And no speeches means no graduation.
This poses its own problem, because leaving college without a diploma is like visiting the restroom but leaving the tissue roll completely full: No matter what you did in there, there’s no paperwork to prove it.
Then by society’s views I will only be qualified to flip burgers. This isn’t to say that the fast-food industry is not a desirable business to get into; it’s just not what I spent four years and the contents of several cracked piggybanks for.
If I’m working the hamburger grill, it’s only natural that at some point I will also get appointed french-fry fryer. And given my propensity to maximize my minimized coordination, I will give myself a serious grease burn.
The doctors, I will hear through faltering moments of consciousness, will probably decide the only way to save me is to perform an emergency skin graft. They will rush me into the operating room and perform an intensive operation that will save me by the skin of my teeth. Or wherever they decide to take the graft from.
I will wake up from surgery hours later to find myself voiceless, diplomaless, jobless and skinless, bound up like a gauzy birthday present and laying in a strange hospital’s intensive care unit.
And sitting obediently on the floor by my bed will be the pair of TOMS shoes that I wore through it all, and that are all worn through. I doubt that even the missing nail of an unlucky horseshoe could do so much.