I’ve never mastered the skill to tying shoelaces so that they remained tied. I can tie shoelaces. But inevitably sooner or later (usually sooner), despite the careful double knot I tied, the laces unravel and drag along on the sidewalk.
I remember getting my first assessment in kindergarten of the various skills that we were supposed to have learned. There was a long neat row of checks besides the skills, except for one. Sharing – check. Raising hand before speaking – check. Printing my name – check. Tying shoelaces – blank. I dutifully stared at my assessment and judged my own self worth. I decided that I was doing okay because I had all the checks except for one. I knew no one was perfect.
Except my best friend, Kristy, apparently was. She was the only student who had all the checks. I looked at her in awe. “How can you tie shoelaces? It’s so hard.” I asked. My father tried to teach me and I had no idea what he wanted me to do. In retrospect, I’m not sure why my father was the one who was tasked with teaching me. He’s not the most patient person. Kristy scoffed, “Tying shoelaces is easy! C’mon I’ll show you.”
She lead me over to where our shoes were kept in the cubbies. She brought out one of her shoes.
She patiently explained, “First you make a rabbit ear. Then the other one runs around. Then you poke it through and it gets trapped. Now you try.”
I was flabbergasted. It seemed so easy when she did it. Not at all the jumble of laces and boobytraps that appeared when my father tried to teach me. I pulled out my own shoe. The first attempt was unsuccessful because I pulled out too much, but it was much closer to tying my own shoelaces than I had been. The second attempt I successfully tied my own shoelaces, albeit lopsidedly with one “ear” far larger than the other. Still I was thrilled. One step closer to being a “grown-up.”
In middle school my current best friend, Kim, was the one in charge of my shoelaces. We had gym together. Although by middle school I was no longer tying lopsided bows on my sneakers, the laces would unravel. Doing strenuous activities would make them unravel faster. A few minutes into running, playing basketball, volleyball, or whatever we would doing, I plaintively cried out, “Wait, wait! I need to tie my shoelaces.” After a few days of this, Kim asked exasperatedly, “Why don’t you do double knots?”
“I AM doing double knots,” I protested. She didn’t believe me and watched me tie my shoelaces. After seeing me tie my double knots and then having them untie themselves anyway, she decided that she would be the one to tie my shoes before gym class. Every morning from then on out, she dutifully tied my shoelaces so they wouldn’t unravel and we wouldn’t have to stop.
Last year when Ben and I started dating and we began running together, he experienced the same exasperation in constantly waiting for me to retie my shoes.
“Honey, why don’t you do double knots?” he asked after the umpteenth time I announced that we had to stop to retie my shoes.
He gave me a look that stated, “I’m not going to argue with you, but I’m sure you’re doing something wrong.” After observing me doing double knots to his satisfaction and still having them untie (much to his surprise), he decided that the only thing to do was to tie my shoes for me.
We developed a running ritual, where just before we start running, I point my feet at him and say one of two things, “My shoes need to be tied,” or “Will you tie my shoes?” Ben likes doing this one little task for me. I’m usually so capable and independent, that having this dependency on him pleases him. He jokes that this ensures that I need him. Without him, who else will tie my shoes?
I did a couple of speed work outs this past week. I ran 1.5 miles at 8 mph (7:30 pace) the day before yesterday. My left shoelace unraveled in the last .4 miles of my work out and I had to run carefully to avoid tripping on it on the treadmill. I intended to run 1 mile at 8.5 mph (7:03 pace) yesterday, but only ran 1/2 mile at that pace. I had to quit early because both laces unraveled when I reached the .3 mile mark.
I can do a lot of things. Tying laces isn’t one of them.