When my children were younger I often used to refer to them as “mitten suppliers to the world.” And not because they produced so many mittens. I wish that was the case. No, the reason they earned this particular sobriquet from me was because, without fail, they would each lose an average of twenty pairs of gloves or mittens every single winter. (And since, in Flagstaff, we average about three winters a year, this is a lot.) Even buying the cheapest gloves possible didn’t really protect me from the financial hit of buying approximately a gross of mittens every year.
Of course, eventually we moved past this phase. It wasn’t that they stopped losing gloves, it was just that I stopped caring if their fingers were cold. When your children are in elementary school the fact that their fingers are blue reflects poorly on you as a parent; when the same thing happens to them in high school it only reflects poorly on them. Or at least that’s what I tell myself: their teachers probably still look at their blue fingers and shake their collective heads at my apparent inability to keep my offspring alive and intact. Still, at least I don’t have to make weekly visits to the dollar store anymore. Unfortunately, however, that’s because the thing I now have to replace on a weekly basis is no longer gloves.
It’s shoes. Specifically, ballet shoes.
Right about now you’re probably thinking, “I didn’t even know they carried ballet shoes at the dollar store.” And you’re right to think that. Because they don’t. Not at all. Not ever. And even if they did—even if, by some over-ordering catastrophe that meant the New York Ballet company had somehow managed to mis-order to the point that all of the dollar stores in the country were somehow flooded with a veritable barge of ballet slippers, it still wouldn’t do me any good, because unlike gloves, which come in “one-size-fits-all,” ballet slippers are more size specific. And the size that is most specifically likely to not be present is size 12, which is what my own careless danseur, Clyde, happens to wear.
That’s right. Size 12 ballet shoes.
You think those suckers are easy to find? They are not. In fact, they have to be special ordered, which means that every time he loses a pair I have go online and order them again. And again. And again. And yes, I probably would get a discount if I ordered a bunch at once, but there are two problems with that plan. One, I have no guarantee that Clyde will still be wearing size 12 ballet shoes when he wakes up in the morning (at age thirteen, the chances are actually quite slim), and two, if Clyde even suspects that there is a spare pair of shoes anywhere to be found he will be even more careless with the pair he has. If that is even possible.
I’ve thought about writing something on the inside of each shoe along the lines of, “If found, please return to…” but there are a couple of things stopping me. One is that I’m not sure I’d want to meet the kind of person who doesn’t mind getting his face close enough to a thirteen-year-old boy’s ballet shoes to actually read a phone number printed there, and the other is that I’m afraid that if people find out I have a size 12 wearing ballet dancer in the house they’ll be waiting outside the front gate trying to snap a photo of the giant ballerina.
Either that, or they’ll be trying to film a video of Bigfoot in a tutu. A tutu, but no shoes. Of course.