I’m feeling a bit like Charlie Chaplin today. Not co-founder of United Artists, titan of Hollywood, artistic genius, and possibly not-great-guy-in-real-life-all-the-time Charles Chaplin. No, more Charlie “Little Tramp” Chaplin.
For you see, there’s a hole in my shoe. Actually there are SEVERAL holes in my shoes.
Because my bag for this trip was already bursting at the seams, I opted to only bring a single pair of shoes with me, that being the ones on my feet. I’ve done this before and it has always worked out. But this was a pond too far, a mile too long, a trip too many. Like a dodo-ish Icarus, I was a flightless wonder who ran too close to the sun and was lost.
I had considered taping the shoes with duct tape, a trick I’ve seen other runners adopt in a last-minute crisis. I even considered stuffing them with Le Monde to give them that French je ne sais quoi. But then I thought, “What am I doing?” I ask a lot of my feet and legs. They can have a new pair of shoes now and again. It’s probably the least I can do for them as I rarely (if ever) let them have a proper rest and recovery.
As a result, I went on a shoe quest through the streets of Paris. I passed by a FootLocker and a NewBalance store, though to be fair, they were fermé at 10:30 AM even though they were supposed to be open at 10. I don’t know if they’re on a different time zone or if 10 AM posted in Paris means, ya know, 11:45-ish. Minor digression but there’s a point here: I heard from another runner at the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon that when they went to the race expo it wasn’t open when it was supposed to be; when they finally did let folks in the explanation was simply, “we were late.” No apologies for the misunderstanding or the delay, just a simple, “We were late.” Maybe that’s healthier. I don’t know.
I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been brainwashed. I know it’s mostly all marketing hooey, but I want to believe that running stores, that the shopfronts specializing in running and running gear, offer better insight and knowledge of shoes and runner needs. It’s silly. Gait analyses at those stores are usually smoke and mirror dog and pony shows. At this point, I know what I need — I need a shoe for excessive, off-the-chart, how-am-I-even-able-to-walk-let-alone-run “over-pronation.” But I still felt like if I was going to get a pair of shoes in a foreign land, I should get a local expert on running to make sure I got what I needed. I bet I would’ve gotten the same shoe at potentially a lower cost at Foot Locker Paris. And yet… sigh… I was the sucker born this minute (well, actually many, many, many, MANY minutes and miles ago), but I wanted a “proper” running store so that’s what I went for.
When I googled “running store near me,” several popped up… and I made my choice not based on proximity or even reviews (which I think are always a bit suspect on google maps anyway). Rather I went with the one with a name I thought sounded good. How ridiculous is that? I wouldn’t wait around to see if Foot Locker opened but I judged a running store by the name on the marquee. Next thing you know I’ll be buying crepes from places based solely on their connections to French Literature (too late).
And this is all why I went to “KM 42 The Running Store.”
The proprietor palez-vous ingles way better than je parle francais… but it still was far from a lingua franca meeting of the minds. Still, with the added use of Google Translate, I was able to convey my need for a shoe that was “plus de pronation” and “pronation tres, tres grand” and “stabilite de mi pied.” As is often the case in running stores, even with their large inventory and vast knowledge, I had a choice of two or three pairs, and ALWAYS the most expensive imaginable.
The first one he handed me was so lightweight I couldn’t see it offering me much in the way of support — maybe it’d be great but now is not the time to try something super new. The second pair was not available in my size. And the third one, the crypto-Goldilocks-ian pair, felt pretty good and I just thought, “well, this is what will be, will be… que sera, sera, oui?”
And thus, that’s how I wound up buying the single most expensive pair of shoes I’ve ever owned.
I hope my feet and legs appreciate this. They owe me BIG time. I guess we’ll find out in Brussels on Sunday.
In the meantime, I’m going to wear them around the sightseeing walkabouts I find myself doing. I tend to plan a few key sights to see and then tour by walking around. It’s a variation of the ol’ “Management By Walking Around” system wherein managers are just present and visible onsite and observing in the hopes that helps set an example and provides insights into ground floor operations. There are pluses and minuses to such a style — there is of course no universal “best practice” despite what you hear. If there were, we’d ALL do that and everything would run perfectly. Perfection isn’t in our human nature; the striving for perfection, yes. But perfection? Not gonna happen.
Anyway, my point is I tend to walk and wander between some sights and see what I see. I generally prefer doing it on foot as you see the city or town at street level. Riding a metro or in an Uber or cab is all well and good and sometimes very necessary. But this morning as I rode the Metro out to the Bastille monument, I remembered why I usually prefer hoofing it. That car was like a traveling petrie dish of germs and illnesses waiting to be mutated, transmitted, and carried onto more and more healthy souls. It’s how epidemics are spread. This is home to a particularly devastating Middle Age black plague after all.
But I digress. The Bastille was stormed and razed and I guess I knew it was torn down when the people sung and all but still it’s a bit jarring to come up out of the Metro stop and see… well, a monument that has been commodified into a Nokia billboard.
I did also stop at the Louvre. I should’ve gone in as I do love that place… as much for the art inside as watching the people wandering the seemingly endless halls. The lines were very long and unlike Disney, there weren’t any Approximate Wait Times posted. I overheard someone say they’d been there 40 minutes and had moved all of 10 meters. I know this makes me a bad Parisian tourist, but I decided to skip it. I regret it already but standing around amidst people has lost its appeal at the moment. And though this sounds ever so snooty and snotty and silly, I *have* seen the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and the Great Sphinx of Tanis amongst various other “must dos” at the Louvre. So I gave it a miss.
But I did create my own work of art. I call it the “Pop Thinker.” Is that bottle of Coke Zero half empty or half full?
Unlike Charlie’s Tramp, I had a credit card, and thus after patiently waiting for the chip and pin system to fail so I could chip and sign the credit card slip (we Americans don’t have pins for our chipped cards… I’m not entirely sure what security we have), I strolled down the rue. The running store wasn’t too far from Moulin Rouge which I generally try and wander past in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Lady Marmalade.
By the way, this “Lawless French” expose might be worth a read — it’s on why “Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir” is terrible on at least two levels (grammatically AND culturally). Also, you may want to scroll through the supposedly *acceptable* French pick-up lines. (Acceptable to whom?).
I’m in Paris and really should sample some of the world class cuisine and cooking. And though my heart and mind tell me here I am in this city of culinary delights, my stomach is saying something else. “You may be in Paris, bub, but you’re pretty sick too. There’s no need to throw extra variables into the mix. Could some stray escargot or pate or foie gras be a curative? Mayhaps… but it could also be a serious, serious gastro-punch. Stick with something light.”
And, no, eating my shoe wasn’t an option I even considered.
I regret not downing a bottle of cheap but good wine. But I’m not sure I can handle it at the moment. I don’t feel mega-awful, but it is always a little worse at night. And given that I treated my feet and legs to a new pair of ungodly pricey sneakers, maybe I owe a little something to the ol’ gut… despite its paunch but due to its circumstances.
Still, a crepe can’t be TOO bad for me, right? It’s just a crepe. One little Mr. Creosote-ian crepe, right?
I regret… not this crepe. Oh, sure. I have a few regrets. More than a lot. But I did it… the Nutella way.