AN erstwhile boardmate who played classical guitar actually stepped into my shoes. He coaxed out heavenly strains off Antonio Molina’s Hatinggabi, Fernando Sor’s Variations on a Theme by Mozart plus a clutch of other pieces to a full house at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Little Theater. The shoes were duly returned. Odd it was he had to borrow mine—he had a pair of soft leather loafers he could wear for that performance.
Making a defense of his thesis before a panel of academic honchos plus a gaggle of senior students, my eldest kid borrowed and stepped into my shoes. He pulled that defense with bravura. Plus some applause from student peers. An economic feasibility study plus down-to-nitty-gritty architect’s design of an international airport including construction costs for such is something tough to broach before a crowd.
He didn’t need my shoes as platform of sorts to deliver his defense. He has been repeatedly told that he can stand on his own, rise to his true height.
He repeated that oddity—borrowing, stepping into my shoes—at the graduation rites, showing off a fetching nursing student as his 30th conquest. Does one don confidence, gusto, gumption and two-bit tango rhythm on your feet for such a social do? Uh, I attended that occasion on a pair of well-worn sneakers, wont to every-other-day jaunts that starts out at Quiapo straight to Divisoria and winding up at the Jones Bridge in Sta. Cruz.
For a job interview, my third kid also set foot into my leather shoes. He brimmed with confidence, spoke a tad flawless English. He got hired. I ought to get used to my frayed sneakers.
Now, there’s a lot of mileage in those faded pair of rubber-and-canvass affair. I’ve walked the walk in ‘em.
Those same sneakers had chafed through the most recent aborted Gridiron skit of the National Press Club. Say, the hour-long presentation is both fun and punishment, made up of sequences in which we howl out tunes while erupting in some fast dance steps. The physical exertions leave us in sweat. Sometimes in cramps, panting for air as newsdesk-induced stress thaws out of our bodies. It’s a daily rehearsal at off-hours with stage thespian-director Bart Guingona calling the shots.
Suspicion: that ex-boardmate and my two kids might be equally superstitious. Why, they probably believe a person imparts more than zillions of fungal spores from mildew to athlete’s foot, dead rat smell and callused soles into one’s shoes. Maybe something of a wearer’s spirit rubs in and lingers in ‘em shoes. Perhaps, the inner map of his electric body is sole-stamped into the shoes-- the electricity becomes palpable memory imparted to the wearer.
They probably believe that each shoe bears the hallmarks of the shaman, the showman, the shoe filling up the man. The reason may be beyond explanation but, hey, sole rhymes with soul.
There’s this half-remembered phrase from Sunday school about Christians walking with their faith. Maybe the word was fate. Or I must have misheard—we’re not really used to walk on tiptoes, just on one’s feet, bare or shod. One’s feet can be graceful carriage—not in a plod, a trudge, a limp, a shoddy plough, a swagger or stagger.
It took a year for me to wear out a pair of Polo and G. H. Bass, their sturdy soles flayed and flaked smooth to a thin ply by that silly habit of hiking from Quiapo to Divisoria then Binondo to Sta. Cruz before heading off to my work station. Yeah, yeah, I’m a streetwalker soaking all the details along the way not unlike that "Sublime Paralytic of Batangas" and "Brains of the Revolution," Apolinario Mabini. In his schoolboy days, he walked daily from his hometown Talaga to the school he attended in Lipa City. It must have been a day-to-day ordeal for him in pursuit of learning.
The soles wear thin, the legs turn sturdy, takes on an infectious two-tone rhythm of reggae with a plague of salsa and tango plus a whit of rock and roll beat. Sure, there ought to be music oozing off shuffling foot movements to coax the slow wash of endorphin in one’s brain to clear the cobwebs. Say, that same happy hormone is also released in relaxed lovemaking and causes the skin to glow, induces a sense of euphoria and a silly feel-good grin.
So I covered miles and smiles in ‘em shoes in the belief that the quality of one’s movement determines the quality of one’s life.