It’s all about the shoes here. I’m not surprised really. Well, I am surprised that it’s about my shoes.
My morning walks with Enzo take me to two separate corners of Washington Park, and brushing past a few surface parking lots off Central Parkway. On the far side of the park, I have been observed by an older gentleman sitting outside a flesh-colored home, next to a vacant church. I don’t know how often he has been sitting there as I stride past.
But one day, he moved from out of the shadows, with coffee mug in hand and slippers on, and said, “Hey, how come you’re not running today?”
I looked up, befuddled, twisting the dog’s leash tighter around my wrist.
“How come you’re not?” I shot back.
He pointed down at his grey fuzzy slippers, that if they would have had bunny ears on them, I wouldn’t have been surprised.
“Ah. I get it.”
“But you got those on….” And he gestured at my running shoes, neon yellow and gray.
“Yep, you’re right no excuse. You’re sort like my own personal Fit-bit,” I mentioned, then immediately took it back, as I noted the confusion spreading across his face along with the eastern sun.
“Oh, you know, its like a thing, you carry it around, and it measures how much…” I stopped explaining after a while, because it was an intersection where generations meet each other and then everyone goes on their own way.
The next interaction I had with him, was from his front window. I had to cross Elm Street at an odd angle due to streetcar construction (its ubiquitous enough to have its own brand soon). From the corner of my eye, I caught movement.
It was my new coach waving in the window.
I made a motion, “Why aren’t you out here.” Though it was already 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity.
He mouthed back, “No shoes like yours.”
My second fan sits on an opposite corner of the Park, the view from his perch often shaded. So I don’t often notice him, if he is seated beneath the scraggly trees. He waves at me daily, in an Indian Chief, “How”, sort of way.
One day, our schedules meshed. He was seated in the sun, while I passed by with Enzo. I pulled Enzo away from the BK wrapper, (where on earth is the nearest BK?), and he dutifully followed me towards the older gentleman.
I held out my out, “I’m Annette.”
“Henry,” he shared.
“Hi, Henry. Nice to finally meet you. See you sitting out here all the time.”
“And I see you with those shoes on all the time.”
The shoes, again.
“Yeah, you like those?”
Yeah, I even seen you downtown one day. You were all the ways downtown.” A big grin crossed his face.
Wanting to get off the topic of shoes, difficult for me, I asked him, “You live here a long a time?”
“Yep, since ‘67. Before that I was in Cleveland on 161st Street.”
“Yeah, I’m from the Cleveland area too, so we’ve got that in common.” Stupid, insert shoe inside mouth. It was not the only thing as humans and residents of OTR we had in common. Plus we BOTH liked my shoes.
Lastly, there was a hefty, mustached security guard standing in a nearby parking lot who one day casually asked, “Hey can I pet your dog?”
“Sure,” I said, stepping towards him.
“He don’t bite, does he?” He seemed shy, reluctant, but I told him Enzo wouldn’t bite, just suck up some love. We chatted about the rain, “yes” or “no” on the day, he told me his name was Jack, and then he confessed, “Hey, I like them shoes.”
Two days later, I saw Jack again, working a different lot, and he yelled for me from across the street. “Hey, is that Ennis?”
“Enzo,” I called back.
Upon hearing his name, Enzo proceeded to dart across the street in a fashion different from how he embraced when I called out for him, which was never. Enzo began licking at Jack’s hands.
“Yeah, I recognized you from your shoes.”
I’m getting the idea this will be a common phrase. Disappointingly though, I just ordered a new pair, and I decided to mix up the color and test whether my fans will still like my shoes.
Life has come full circle in city. Once known only as Slippers, or Little Shoes, growing up in the Januzzi’s Shoes family, my feet haven’t grown since those days, but perhaps impact they make has.
Photo above is Piatt Park. The flowers there are lovely, and so are the canopies of trees and trellis.