house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Shoes Versus Siestas

Nikita's has two pairs of skate shoes. They are these chunky black boat-like heavies designed to sustain massive friction and leave Yeti-sized prints in the snow. They are made to last through any amount of skate tricks and adolescent angst.

These two pairs have decidedly lost the battle. There are holes at toe and heel level, the fronts look grey with shredded edges. Laces have long been replaced by an innovative combo of wire and plastic clips. Skulls and Celtic symbols were painted in gold on the sides, and then smudged against a small town's worth of walls and the skate parks of three countries.

He still insists on wearing them. At this stage, I am merely a puzzled spectator of this shoe-fixation, since I recognise (like many parents before me no doubt) that there is little I can do. But then one day it rains and Nikita comes home with wet feet – not just wet: ice cold and wrinkled, having squelched about all day at school - and at last we recognise the fact that we are having a shoe-crisis.

We both spring into action: I buy him a pair of trainers at the market, he uses black duct tape to 'resole' his boats. My shoes, although almost identical to his lame ones bar the chunky effect, are instantly relegated to 'last choice ' status, i.e. he will only wear them during weather extremes or when held at gunpoint by irrational parents.

At the same time, he has become number one window shopper at the skate shop in Vila Praia de Ancora. When we go there at the weekend, he walks in without fail and inspects a vast range of exorbitantly-priced skate shoes. He never insists on buying any, just shakes his head dolefully at the price tags and when he leaves the shop there's a lost puppy look about him that finally breaks me.

I run to the bank. We drive to Ancora and, this time, we're buying skate shoes.

We bought skate shoes. They are identical to his previous two pairs and to the new trainers too (but chunkier)! While he chooses and tries his shoes, we have lunch next door. I only go in to pay, and the shop assistant drops two sets of laces and a handful of cool stickers into the shoebox; before we leave he asks Nikita if he is a surfer too... Yes, Niki nods absently, over the moon. We waltz back to our lunch, which he spends under the table, lacing and relacing his new shoes (one white lace and one black!)

At some point, the guy from the skate shop runs into the cafe with a bag full of surf stickers and a big smile. We are all overwhelmed by the kindness. A small perfect moment begins. It is warm, we are sitting in the sun with our coffees and newspapers. The kids are happy, the afternoon stretches languidly ahead, the little town is quiet and friendly.

Then Nikita starts skating, all loud grating and banging; we are jolted back to the present; the new shoes are having their baptism of fire; so is the entire town, walking couples and napping grannies and all.


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