Ever since I was a young lad, I’ve always worn and loved just one pair of shoes; that pair took me everywhere, and together myself and them endured all kinds of fun and disastrous times together (like the time my sister Natalie fell through a wooden fence into a muddy algae-ridden pond when she was 8 and I was 6 — a disaster for her, but still truly hilarious if you are 6!). It’s not because my parents couldn’t afford to buy me more, or because I have a shoe-shop-related anxiety problem — I’ve never been in one long enough to develop one — it’s simply because whenever I have more than one pair of shoes on the go, things get complicated. My feet just don’t get along with more than one variety, is the problem. Years of wearing one pair have made them extremely picky, and the result of me challenging this theory is never a good thing.
Last year, though, I started to think that maybe I could do it…maybe I could be like everyone else on this planet and have more than one pair. It took me a while to fully commit to the idea, but once I was ready that was it. I confronted my mission with determination and a real desire to succeed.
It began with my socially confrontational cowboy boots — man boots with heels…boots which went against the grain of everything almost everyone I know stands for (not looking like a cowboy, not wearing heels). My theory was if I’m going to buy new shoes, why not be daring and outlandish with it? I’ll confess, owning genuine cowboy boots had been on my mind for a while, but actually putting down £200 to buy a pair took considerably more bravery than I’d ever imagined. Still, I knew I had it in me, and before long there I was, strutting down the street feeling extremely awkward and self-conscious. It took another couple of weeks to master turning corners while walking, but once I had the technique down there was absolutely no stopping me.
Little did I know that at this time of great endurance and agonising pain — wearing the cowboy boots in was a treacherous blend of blister-inducing-hell, combined with excruciating shooting pains up and down my shins, combined with feeling weird because of the heels, combined with wondering if I had made a terrible mistake — my parents were deviously concocting their very own plan to buy me yet more shoes…
I was presented with my 2nd pair of new shoes on the morning of my 31st birthday, and I didn’t say much when I opened the box and saw that they were shoes. I mean, your mum and dad buy you shoes you actually would have bought for yourself — it’s slightly eerie that they know your tastes so specifically, isn’t it? For me it is, at least. At first, my parents’ decision to buy me a pair of new shoes struck me as deeply unorthodox — crazy on a whole new level I didn’t dare think about. Disturbing, even. Then I smiled and realised that potentially, this was a life-changing moment, all because of them. The moment I became a real person. A person who could choose from a small number of shoes. What an eventful day! I was a grown-up!
But this feeling of elation and parental awe and wonder — lots of wonder, not to mention smugness — was not to last long. Because no sooner had I donned the comfy brown leather VANS and gone for my virgin walk around the village that I developed two of the most comically large and alarming blisters ever to grace Pink family feet. Something to do with the spongy soles and going from hard-sole cowboy boots to soft shoes, I was later to work out.
My problem with blisters is that I am a fighter. Some people sense the arrival of a blister and think now that really does hurt a lot, I’m going to slow down a hell of a lot and walk home carefully. That should help me avoid it. I have never been of this school of thought. Instead, my theory has always been to drive straight through the pain and teach it a lesson. Instead of slowing down, I speed up and walk aggressively, with the kind of purpose only men late for football games really understand. Where most people would fear the arrival of dreaded doom under their feet, I say Let the chips fall where they may, I say be imperfect! (Note: I don’t always say this. It varies depending on the last time I saw Fight Club.)
Months on and I’m still fighting my right to wear more than one pair of shoes, and wondering if going back to my one-pair-only rule is more favourable than a life-time of discomfort and pain. The blisters still appear every now and again, but that’s not going to stop me, i don’t think. I am a grown-up. Chris will fight on!