Author – MC
I never thought I would be caught publicly shoeless. To be honest, it takes a statistically near-impossible series of events for that to happen to someone unless you are very careless or actually -wanted- to lose your shoes. Neither of those things applied to me when I got on that ride.
The day at the amusement park had gone very well to that point. It was early enough in the season that the crowds weren’t there and early enough in the day that lines for the roller coasters hadnt gotten long. My friend Alex and I are kind of big roller-coaster nuts so we try and get to all of them early in the day before the lines get long. I chose to wear a pair of light brown suede wallabee style boots to walk about in; they were a little roomy and easy to walk and stand a long time in and that worked well with what would be a busy morning with lots of standing.
The first suspended coaster (one where you sit in a hanging car and your feet dangle) we targeted was ‘The Jaguar.’ Jaguar is very fun; it has lots of sharp turns and corkscrews. I had ridden Jaguar before, and knew about the frequent powerful turns on the ride, so when we got in line, the shoes Alex had chosen to wear troubled me.
“You’re not going to wear your clogs on the ride, are you?”
Alex was wearing a pair of handsome leather clogs, with a wooden base. Alex wore them somewhat frequently, and boasted that they were very comfortable. But being in line I could not shake the thought that if someone wore clogs on the ride, they would slip off and hit some poor unsuspecting person’s head on the ground below.
“Of course not, they would slip off.”
“So you’re going to take them off and leave them in the bins?”
“Yeah, what else would I do?”
At this moment, a young man standing behind us knelt down and began adjusting the straps on his Adidas slides. I heard the telltale rrrip of velcro and watched out of the corner of my eye as he made them very snug on his socked feet. Had I just issued a dare?
“Well it’s just, I would be afraid someone would steal my nice shoes when they’re sitting there unguarded.”
“I don’t think so. Who wants to take someone else’s shoes?”
“Someone who wants to upgrade. Or someone who’s a klepto.”
Alex shrugged. “I guess that risk is better odds than risking your shoes on the ride.”
“I’m not risking them, I wore shoes with backs,” I teased.
Alex shrugged my comment off with an eyeroll. “You can lose a fully enclosed shoe.”
I then remembered that low cut Wallabee boots, like the ones I was wearing, have very soft, supple leather. Occasionally, my heel would slip out of the shoe when I walked. I wore similar ones when I was in school as well, and sometimes someone would accidentally step on my heel and if that happened my whole foot would slip out of the shoe and I’d leave it behind.
Taking a page from the book of the guy wearing Adidas slides, I knelt and re-tied my shoelaces a bit tighter, snugly on my foot. I then felt very secure about them, and as I rose, we were quickly ushered onto the ride platform for our turn.
Alex clomped over to the bins and put the clogs in one of the holes, and padded back to the seat next to me in only a pair of green, striped ankle socks.
“Nice socks, there.”
We positioned ourselves in the car, readying for the ride to start. I had already lowered the vest-like section that holds one’s upper body when I noticed the knot on my right shoe had slipped a bit and looked like it might come undone. Had I tied it too quickly? The seat was locked, however, and I couldn’t reach it to do anything about it.
The attendant came around to check the security of the seats. When he drew close to me, and waved him closer.
“Hey listen, my shoe’s come a little untied, would you mind straightening it out for me?”
I think I heard Alex chuckle beside me.
I’ll never know why, but at that moment something malicious took place in the mind of the attendant. He immediately looked down to my dangling feet, and without a word he pulled the ends of the shoelaces, opening the knots on both of my shoes.
Alex and I were too stunned to say anything. The attendant walked away and I began to feel the snugness of my shoes open up. My heel felt loose in the dangling boots. The attendant gave the operator a thumbs-up.
“Okay, everyone, geeeeeet reaaaadyyyyy!” The voice of the operator boomed.
“NO! WAIT! DON’T DO IT,” I yelled.
A few laughs came from the people waiting in line, and also the operator, who chuckled at the joke I wasn’t making. The car lurched forward.
I tried to move my feet inside the shoes to a position I felt was more secure, but all that seemed to do was make the untied boots fit more loosely. My heels were not secure in them, and if one of my heel slipped out, I would surely lose the shoe.
I gave a panicked look to Alex, who was sitting next to me, clogless, the green socks taunting me with what was about to happen.
“Just try to hang on…”
It wasn’t very useful advice. I can admit now though, the situation excited me.
As the ride finished the initial descent and began to move quickly, inertia and wind pinned my legs backward and I could feel that my heels were hanging freely, not touching the back of the shoes. For some moments, force of motion kept the shoes hanging from the tops of my feet.
I lost my left shoe in the first corkscrew. We spun to the right and the shoe immediately left the end of my toes. The cold, rushing wind chilled me through my gray dress sock. I never saw where the shoe went.
The right boot slipped off in the inverted loop. The downward force on the shoe was at its maximum and it felt like someone pulled the shoe from my foot. I saw it become tiny in the distance, spinning like a meteor flying to earth.
After they were lost, I accepted my fate and tried to enjoy the ride.
When the ride ended, Alex retrieved the clogs and we went to see the operator. Apparently the attendant’s shift had changed so we had nobody to accuse. The operator told us that shoe loss on the rides is more frequent than you might think and we’ll probably not find my shoes. The only consolation I got was that I did see the young man leave the ride with only one sandal and an empty, socked foot.
For a while, I walked the park in just my socks as our ride plans were put on hold as we tried to find some shoes for me to buy. We didn’t find any until we found the water park shop, which only had some flip flops… and they didnt have my size. Thankfully, Alex was very kind about the whole situation.
“Why don’t you take my clogs?”
“I appreciate that, but then you won’t have any shoes.”
“Buy me some flip flops. I’ll wear those and you’ll wear my clogs… You can’t wear flip flops that don’t fit.”
Of course, they didn’t have Alex’s size either, which was about one size larger than mine. But Alex found flip flops that were up a half size and said that they would be fine. I bought the sandals and went to try on the clogs as Alex removed the green socks.
“No, no. You’re not putting those filthy socks in my clogs,” cried Alex, drawing a few looks from passersby. I looked at my own gray dress socks, now blackened on the soles from walking the park. “Take them off. Here.” Alex handed me the green socks.
I wasn’t keen on wearing the socks which had just been removed, but I didn’t want to insist on wearing the clogs barefoot either. So as Alex stood there in too-large flip flops, I took off my own socks, pocketed them and put on the green socks and slipped into Alex’s clogs.
The rest of the day we both placed our shoes in the bins on the suspended coasters, and nobody lost a shoe. I was sore about losing a very nice and expensive pair of suede boots, but I didn’t want it to ruin the whole day.
I found the clogs tricky to walk in. They were a full size too large for me and the socks would slip on the wood so I frequently stepped out of one when walking up an incline or especially when climbing stairs. Then we would share a laugh. “Just can’t keep your shoes on today, huh?” Alex would say. By some sorcery, Alex never lost a flip flop once, despite their size.
When we got in the car to leave that day, I continued wearing the clogs for the drive back, wagging one around loosely with my foot. They were actually pretty comfortable.