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Jumping In With Both Big Feet

By Jerry Zezima

If the shoe fits, let someone else wear it. That’s my motto now that I have donated four pairs of clodhoppers to my granddaughters’ school fundraiser.

Usually, fundraisers are held so parents and grandparents can shell out the equivalent of a mortgage payment for items like candy, games, wrapping paper, Tupperware, microwave splatter shields and possibly, in some cases, even microwaves themselves.

I’m surprised cars aren’t among the things you can buy to keep a school afloat.

One of the most popular items are assorted nuts, of which I am one.

There’s also clothing. Last year I purchased a pair of pajamas with the school logo and proudly wore them not only to bed but to run errands in. You should have seen the looks I got at the gas station.

This year, my daughter (the girls’ mommy) agreed that the cost had gotten out of control and said the school was allowing people to make modest monetary donations without buying anything and, in a very nice gesture, was accepting shoes for people who need them.

I’m not sure who would need anything that had been on my stinky tootsies, or whose feet are tremendous enough to fit into a pair of size 11s (I’m grateful that, on days when I don’t shave, I haven’t been mistaken for Bigfoot), but I decided to donate four pairs of shoes.

Accounting for half the footgear in my closet, they were: one pair of old sneakers, one pair of old slippers, one pair of new slippers that had never been worn and one pair of brown boat shoes that had been worn but were still in good shape.

The sneakers were the most potentially hazardous donation because they should have been condemned by the board of health. I always have two pairs of sneakers, old and new, except when the new pair becomes old, making the original pair even grungier and, if possible, more fetid.

My new sneakers aren’t new anymore, but they’re in better shape than the pair I donated. I buffed the old ones with household cleaner and a paper towel to get off the dirt I routinely bring into the house and sprayed the insides with disinfectant to prevent the nasal hair of the new owner from falling out in clumps.

I also disinfected the old slippers, which had a rip in the side of the right one, leaving part of my big toe exposed. I considered using duct tape on it (the rip, not my toe, which would have taken an entire roll), but I figured the new owner could take care of it or maybe slit the other slipper and recline in breezy comfort.

I realized I had never worn the new slippers, which I had obviously received as a gift and promptly forgot about, because they were two sizes too small. They did not, at least, have to be disinfected.

Just to be safe, I sprayed the boat shoes, which had served me well for years but had fallen into disuse because: (a) I got new boat shoes and (b) I am retired and no longer go where I am required to wear shoes that would be appropriate for a criminal trial or a funeral, in either case, God forbid, my own.

Now I am left with the new boat shoes, one pair of slippers that are serviceable but will soon be on the way out, a pair of new-old (or old-new) sneakers and a pair of black dressy-casual shoes that are old but have seldom been worn.

The male equivalent of Imelda Marcos I am not.

I stuffed a large shopping bag with my donated footwear and brought them to my daughter’s house. She thanked me for disinfecting them. My son-in-law took one look at the sheer size of each pair and said, “People don’t need boats.”

“No,” I acknowledged. “But thanks to the fundraiser, they’ll have mighty big shoes to fill.”

— Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service, which distributes it to newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of six books, Leave It to BoomerThe Empty Nest ChroniclesGrandfather Knows BestNini and Poppie’s Excellent AdventuresEvery Day Is Saturday and One for the Ageless, all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won seven awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing.

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