Baby Doesn’t Need a New Pair of Shoes

by Tom Swift


I’m not sure how they did it — or why they did it — but at some point since I moved into my home someone (or some industrious squirrel) hung a pair of Air Jordans on the power lines that run through the alley adjacent to my driveway. I love the horizon view from my backyard. Except after the shoes showed up they became eye magnets. I couldn’t not see them. Even if I did successfully look above and beyond to the great yonder those shoes still loomed like an itch you can scratch. Over time the shoes seemed to get bigger. As if eventually their souls would fit the feet of a giant.

More than anything, they just seem trashy.

Cars on cinder blocks.

Broken windows.

Shoes on a wire.

Talking to my more world-aware neighbor one day some months ago, he said that when he lived in Chicago shoes on a wire meant “drugs are sold here.” Doing a little Snoping around on the InterWeb, it seems shoes on a wire might symbolize more than one thing — such as a delineation of a gang’s territory, a declaration after a recent loss of virginity or another coming-of-age pronouncement, or, as my neighbor suggested, the availability of medications of the sort that don’t require a doctor’s order.

I don’t want any passersby to think my house is an option to get their mind-altering needs met. For they would surely be disappointed. I might have some rapidly aging gin in the cupboard — and that’s about it. Nothing that lights up — or lights you up, for that matter.

In any event, the shoes were slung on a wire high enough and away from garages or other structures, making them hard to reach using a ladder or other common means. I counted the shoes as a permanent part of the landscape. For more than a year … through wind and sleet and snow … they dangled there.

Except! When my handyman was over the other day and we were tending to my garage sensor lights when I made a sneering remark about the shoes over our heads.

“Do you want to get them down?” Bruce asked.

“Are you kidding?”

Bruce has at least one of everything in his hatchback. And, sure enough, he had an extension pole. It had not occurred to me that trying to remove the shoes was even an option. I had a long list for Bruce — items that had lingered since spring when the pandemic struck — and it had not crossed my mind that shoe removal could be added to this roster of tasks.

The pole itself didn’t do it. The shoes could be reached but not with enough leverage to swing them loose. Then Bruce duct-taped a flat iron to the pole and, after a struggle to heighten the drama, I finally flipped left over right — or was it right over left? — and, anyway, the shoes came tumbling to the ground and forever out of sight.

It was emotional.