Back in 1999 and 2000 I purchased two consecutive pairs of some really great shoes — orangish-brown loafers and blood red retro sneakers. I don’t remember the day or the moment that I destined them to the trash heap, but I often think about how much I had loved them. Maybe in some blurred corner of an out-of-focus photograph you can catch a glimpse of the loafers. The other pair survives in my memory alone.
Since that time, I suppose, I have always had trouble throwing out old shoes. They seem to accumulate and multiple. Even when they are no longer worn, practically forgotten and relegated to some dreary closet or buried in a nylon shoe bag, I imitate my friend Fred’s policy towards ex-girlfriends, I don’t quite hit the eject button. Why take out the trash when you never know when something old and discarded may come back into style again? Plus, who can say when the situation may call for precisely that pair of shoes?
But you know what? You can’t always hold onto the past or keep things just in case. You reach a certain age in life when it becomes harder to justify being straight and having more shoes than your girlfriend.
Then there is what I learned in kindergarten when I wanted to upgrade my perfectly good Planet of the Apes lunchbox to the just released Star Wars model — Mom wasn’t going to get you something new when the other one worked perfectly well. So I was forced to get all medieval and Bush/Cheney torturous on that old Planet of the Apes has-been.
Relecting on all of this today, I decided to do some Spring cleaning. I put on all of the different versions of “These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)” on my iTunes (Billie Holiday, Chet Baker, Thelonious Monk, Benny Goodman, Clifford Brown & Max Roach, Lester Young, and Johnny Hartman), gathered my shoes together in one room, took a photo for posteriety’s sake, separated the wheat from the chaff, and did what both I and Fred should have done years ago — I took out the trash.