“You are not to tie up his laces” my otherwise kind wife Kathie exclaimed. The ritual had become all too frequent. Regardless of which shoes I wear, my laces come undone. Green, brown or blue, flat or round, long or short, all are wiggle loose triggered by the rocking rhythm of my walking. My shoelaces repeatedly slip the bonds of affection and lose their feeble grip. So in the eyes of others, my unclenched laces are a tripping hazard.

Time and time again, I lazily ignore my unhitched laces—it’s just too much effort to bend down and try again, and again, and again–they just come undone anyway. My stiff arthritic body says, “why bother?” Kathie tells me the problem is with the way I tighten them, tying them to one side of the shoe instead of directly above the centre tongue. I know however that the solution is not that simple. So on different occasions, both Pam and Tricia would kneel down and retie them for me, in public, something they started doing years ago when their six year old children learned to tie their own shoes. Thanks ladies; much appreciated. I feel safer now.

Lest you think that I exaggerate the role of shoelaces in my life and yours, allow me to review their constant relevance. We carry laces through most of the days of our lives, unless however we use Velcro tighteners. Along with the lever, the wheel, the ballpoint pen, and the electronic password manager laces are a constant aid to daily living. As I was oriented to my new pool-based exercise programme recently one of the first questions I was asked was if I had trouble lacing up my shoes. I was flabbergasted. How humiliating, and how true.

-How about the word “lace” itself, and the past tense, “laced?” Someone is said to be straight-laced (possibly a reference to 19th century corsetry) as one who follows the rules and keeps up appearances. In a darker vein, street drugs are often laced with other chemicals, most recently Xylazine, sometimes with deadly effect. Remember Shoeless Joe? Why was he shoeless? His laces had come undone. What do peace officers take from prisoners, especially from those in solitary confinement? Right, their laces. While in jail however inmates can play WORDLE and use “laced” as their start word. I will try this tomorrow.

 Let’s talk then about solutions. There is a book on my shelf titled “Fun with Knots.” I have not read it yet but it does sound like fun. Knots are beautiful to photograph–it is likewise fun to watch a skilled knot-byer in action. The risk in attempting to tie knots is that seemingly simple knots can become Gordian knots if the tyer is not careful.

Turn him to any cause of policy,
The Gordian Knot of it he will unloose,
Familiar as his garter

— Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 1 Scene 1. 45–47

Parents teach their kids to tie double knots, a practice I have found  sometimes effective. A friend has promised to teach me a technique involving running a lace through a shoe lace hole twice—she advises however that no male human has learned the skill—only some African monkeys. I mean really, when you visit the shoe store, sales clerks do it all backwards. Where do they learn such skills?  General Motors and MacDonalds each have universities; how about shoe sales staff?

When did you learn to tie your shoelaces? I remember in Grade One at Jiminy Crickets pre-school that if I walked over to the window ledge where the wooden shoe lived, if I could tie the lace of one shoe I got an extended recess period. Of course no one else received the extended time with me so it was kinda weird to be out on the playground by myself. And yes, likely I needed to tie my laces again in solitude.

Imagine my delight when I discovered Professor Shoelace—Yes Virginia, you also can learn to Ladder-tie your own shoelaces. Click the link above–there is help available. Carroll Kelly writes: “ Criss-cross, straight-lace, heel-lock, lattice…who knew there were so many different ways to lace shoes? Not only do your shoelaces affect the fit of your footwear, but they also change the vibe. We’re here to show you tons of cool ways to lace shoes so you can rock your best look everywhere from the basketball court to the board room.”

Photo credit: Doug Clemis, Kamloops Photo Arts Club

If after all the encouragement above you are still having difficulty, what to do then? Well Kamloops folks look no longer: Sure you can visit Walmart, but really, go for the style. Head downtown for the classic Kennel’s Shoes. “Since 1948 Kennells’s Shoes has been a downtown staple for more than 75 years. Four generations of the Kennell family have brought passion, hard work and knowledge to help serve our dedicated customers. We will continue to do so for years to come, our love of shoes is second to none.” Still stumped? Try Crocs, boots, or fashionista sandals. And yes, there is always elastic.

Photo credit: Isobel Lamarche, Kamloops Photo Arts Club

As a footnote, for readers of the Good Book (translations by the author), don’t forget: Walk on your way securely and your foot will not stumble (Proverbs 3:23). And As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the Good News of peace (Ephesians 6:15). And best of all, One who is more powerful than I will come, the laces of his shoes I am not worthy to untie (Luke 3:16).

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