Story Go Round 07/05/2002, round 2, #4

His Shoes Were Laced With Irony

That afternoon at the ironmongers' market, the news was spreading fast. Only the latecomers missed hearing it repeatedly, everyone else heard about it in successively alarming versions, where a slipper became a shoe, then a boot, then thigh-waders Mrs. Avenfall systematically disbelieved the first three stories she heard, but was driven to ask her husband Frank when he came home from work about their truth.

Frank was leaning over the beans, inhaling, trying to drive out the smell of the dungsmithy he worked next door to during the day, out of his sinuses. The truth was something Frank avoided as often as he could manage. "Just gets you in trouble," he stated. So Mrs Avenfall had to ask her neighbor, which was a mistake because Hetty Gobstopper was the person for whom Gobstoppers had originally been invented, and thus it wasn't just a clever name.

The shoes were a matter of constipation for many. You see, it was the leather. Call it an allergy, call it voodoo, but an amazing number of patients in Dr. Comestock's office for constipation wore Ironmonger tennis shoes. The fad had started in the village last year - and, for peasants that couldn't afford luxury typically, 'tennis' shoes had come in through the route of practicality. First Frod was exclaiming how nice it was not to always be stepping on the cat, then he was telling his neighbor about it. Hetty was everyone's neighbor, and she heard everything, but she didn't keep it all straight.

So what Mrs Avenfall got from Hetty was that the shoes were made of cat leather, and she was entitled to two free pairs of any color from the State.

Not to be kept from her just due, Mrs Avenfall immediately sent her 3 sons into the nearby city to claim their 8 pairs of shoes (for the whole family, you see). The shoes were such a novelty, that they were slow to blame their developing health problems on them. She met her daughter-in-law's sudden weight gain with nodding sympathy - 'I was excited too, lassie. My whole life was beginning, and it wasn't going to have anything to do with fish' (Mrs Avenfall's father had been a fish wife her whole life, and she couldn't abide fish).

What none of them had noted, was the strange material the shoelaces were made of. Oddly supple, yet strong, neon pink had never been seen before, so all attention went to their color, not their material. Using iron for laces was new, untested, untried, and thrilling. It had only been a century since they were first used for swords, and that success had made them seem ideal for any commodity. Children and adults alike struggled with the tying process. Within months, there was an enterprising inventor who had a device which made the individual bends easier, and capable of being done by anyone weighing greater than 40 stone. People usually wore their shoes for 2 weeks, once the laces were tied.

Naturally Hetty was the first one to hear the skinny on the laces. So it was no surprise that Mrs Avenfall smugly informed her husband that she'd just learned his shoes were laced with "irony".

Amber is purple; John is pink; Alan is blue; Terry is orange