Even before the punishing Oklahoma heat breaks, we start getting geared up for football season. My sister Becky is no exception. So when she was given two tickets to OU’s opening game, she gave me a call. We could run down to Norman and take a quick, local, sister trip together. No planning required. Sounded great.
Always looking to save some money, we decided to park way out at the Lloyd Noble Center and walk to the stadium. We’re both healthy, so what would it hurt, even if it was 100 degrees in the shade? We can take the heat.
One thing I couldn’t take though, was walking two miles in uncomfortable shoes. Just a few weeks earlier I’d made that mistake when my friend and author buddy Becky Wade had visited OKC. Someone in the group who is related to me by marriage and should know better, underestimated the distance to the OKC Memorial. It turned into quite a hike…especially for someone wearing an adorable pair of new high wedges. Once we got to the Memorial, I took off my shoes to give my feet a rest before we started walking back to Bricktown. Unfortunately my feet swelled like inflatable rafts. The shoes would not go back on. At all.
Poor Becky and Mr. Wade were escorted back through downtown by a barefoot hostess. At one point, crossing a gravel parking lot, I had to catch a piggyback ride to make it across. Just what you want to do in the trendy section of town on a Saturday night. We gave them a visit they’ll never forget.
And I hadn’t forgotten either. No cute shoes on this trip. I was going to wear my tried and true flipflops with a lot of cushion.
And that worked well for the first mile to the stadium. Becky (my sister) and I chatted, laughed and sweated as we hurried along just behind the crowd. We were a little late.
Suddenly something snapped, and with the next step I was standing on bare pavement. What just happened? I looked behind me and there was my flipflop with the strap broken. Now, if you’ve ever had flipflops break, you know that they become the most useless thing in the world. They aren’t sandals. There aren’t other straps to hold them on. Nope, they are just a flat piece of foam with no method of attachment to the bottom of your foot.
This was trouble. I could walk a mile barefoot. I’d proved that in Bricktown. But did I want to walk two miles back in the dark when the game was over? And would they let me into the stadium barefoot? Somehow I doubted it.
But we would press on. We were resourceful. We could figure out something by the time we reached the game.
My first try was to poke my chewing gum into the holes that hold the strap in. Both the side and the hole between my holes had quit on me, so I filled them with green, spearmint gum. Then I carefully pushed the prong into the hole and waited.
Did I mention that it was 100 degrees? That gum wasn’t going to set-up and harden for anything. One step and I realized that all I’d accomplished was getting spearmint gum stuck between my toes. I tried to pick it out, but people were starting to stare at the crazy woman who’d chosen the middle of a busy sidewalk to clean the gum from between her toes. It’d have to wait. I had bigger problems.
We kept walking and soon we were in tailgater land. We asked a few times for duct tape, and unbelievably there was none to be had – a fact I share with the deepest shame and regret.
“We could borrow a rubber band,” Becky said. “Oh, wait. I have a ponytail holder.”
She pulled a ponytail holder off her wrist. By stretching it over my foot and shoe, I was barely able to hold it on. Enough to fake appropriate footwear as we went through the gate at least, but that thin band wouldn’t hold for long. Not being scraped against concrete the way it was. Something else must be done.
I hobbled through the gate and went to the concession area. Surely there’d be something to buy, and there was. The cutest pair of OU flipflops I’d ever seen. For $38.
Suddenly saving on parking didn’t look like such a great idea. Neither did leaving my wallet in the car. I’d stuck a twenty in my pocket for snacks during the game, but I don’t like using plastic when I don’t have to. I also don’t like carrying a purse. Hmmm…. I might need to rethink some of these preferences.
Luckily my sister was with me.
“I only have twenty dollars,” I told her.
“You can borrow some,” she said. She reached in her pocket and pulled out…. $2. She blinked. “I thought I stuck two twenties in there. Not two 1s.” Evidently the aversion to carrying a purse was a family trait.
“Can I buy one shoe?” I asked the kid behind the counter. He didn’t even answer.
The crowd above us roared. The game had commenced. At least we could watch the game. It was only the walking two miles back to the car in the dark barefoot that concerned me.
On our way to our seats we passed a Medical Emergency Station. I stopped in front of it.
“You’re not going in there, are you?” Becky asked.
“They could probably help me.” The more I thought about it, the surer I was that it was the answer to my problem. We found our seats, me dragging a leg Zombie-style to keep the shoe on, but at the first break I slipped down to the medical station.
I felt guilty standing there among all the heat-stroke victims. The nurses kept eyeing me until they took care of those who had real medical issues to deal with. Finally one was free.
“I’m sorry to bother you,” I said. “But my shoe broke and won’t stay on my foot. Do you have any tape I could repair it with?” Because if the shoe wasn’t fixed and I stepped on something, then it could actually become a bonafide medical issue. That’s what I told myself, anyway.
She pulled out latex gloves and pointed me to a cart away from the front desk. It didn’t take her long to size up the problem, but instead of reaching for clear tape, she grabbed an ACE bandage.
“We’ll make sure that shoe stays on your foot,” she said. Then fast as a whirlwind she spun that giant ACE bandage around and around my foot and shoe until I thought she was turning me into a mummy. But do you know what? It felt very comfortable. And since it looked like I had a verifiable handicap (besides my inability to choose footwear), no one would be staring at me like they had when I was walking around with one shoe on.
“Thanks so much! This is perfect!” I wanted to high five her, but she had other, fainting people to worry about.
She ripped her gloves off. “That should hold it, but there’s one other thing. You have some bright green stuff growing between your toes. I’d get that checked out if I was you.”