There was a time when Puma shoes were making a huge comeback and almost every girl I knew was wearing a pair of these shoes with the velcro straps. They weren’t ugly, by any means, but they were being over done. I guess the blessing in disguise here is that velcro doesn’t really tighten your shoes as well as laces (at least from my experience) and velcro was a lot easier to loosen than laces.
I had started seeing a girl named Summer, who I had ironically met in one of my summer classes in college. We got to know each when we were both late for class and had to sit together in the back. It really became easy after that as we talked a lot and before you knew it, we were seeing each other by the end of the week.
There was one thing that always bothered me about Summer, and that was the fact that she smoked. She would smoke before class and she would have another cigarette after class.
“I’m trying to quit,” she would tell me, “I swear I’ve already cut back a lot.”
The thing is, if you’re a non-smoker and you make out with a smoker, it really is like kissing an ash tray and not an entirely enjoyable experience.
So as Summer and I continued to see other, I started to think of ways to help her quit smoking. They were mostly fun ideas or ideas that would benefit me in some way. For example, if Summer smoked more than 3 times during a date, she would have to pay for dinner, or if she smoked before a movie, she would have to pick up and pay for our concessions – simple things like that. Other times, I would make Summer do small foolish dares that would amuse me, like do a cartwheel in the middle of a busy hallway, or put her hand up in the middle of lecture to ask to use the washroom.
However, this didn’t seem to deter Summer’s smoking, at least a noticeable speed.
“How many cigarettes did you have today?” I asked her.
“Just three,” she said, “that’s pretty good right?”
I looked at my watch and it was just past noon.
“I don’t think you’re taking this ‘quit smoking’ initiative very seriously,” I said.
“I am,” Summer said as she grabbed my hand, “I am!”
“I don’t think you’ve even slowed down since I first met you,” I replied.
“So what do you want me to do today? Pay for lunch?”
“No, I don’t think paying for things is helping.”
“Do a headstand?”
“No,” I replied, “I don’t think that bothers you either.”
“Let me think about it,” I replied as my mind started to work while we ordered our lunch. I had to think about a wager that I knew I couldn’t lose.
It was at that moment that Summer got up, excused herself to use the washroom, that I knew what I wanted her to do. I saw those white Puma sneakers on her feet with her track suit ensemble that was just a tad too long as the bottom of her track pants dragged on the floor slightly. I knew exactly what my plan of attack was going to be.
“I know what will make you stop,” I replied to Summer when she returned.
“If you smoke another cigarette today, I get your shoes.”
“Yes, your shoes,” I said as I pointed to her feet.
“Forever? or what?”
“Until you have to go I guess,” I replied, “I haven’t really thought that far ahead.”
“So what happens to me? I have to spend my day in my socks or something?”
“Pretty much,” I smiled, just thinking about her potential predicament. I knew Summer would have another cigarette at some point during the day – it was too early for her not to.
“I don’t agree to this,” Summer said, annoyed at the fact that I was now fixated on her shoes.
To her credit, Summer did her best to avoid smoking for a while. It wasn’t until later in the afternoon that she stepped aside to have a smoke.
“You’re not getting my shoes,” she said as she took a drag on her cigarette and noticed me glancing at her.
At the end of the night, I walked Summer to the bus stop and waited with her. We sat on the bench as we watched the cars go by. I had to take a different bus to head back home, so I was doing the gentlemanly thing here.
“I’ve been good right?” Summer asked, referring to the fact that she only had 4 cigarettes all day.
“Yes,” I said, “but remember what I said?”
“That if you smoked one more that I would get your shoes.”
Summer’s eyes widened.
I grabbed for her feet and reached for her shoes. I lifted her legs up as she tried to fight back.
“No!” she laughed as she tried to push my hands off.
I got a hold of the velcro strap on her right shoe and the strap came loose. Her right shoe was coming off as well. With a little concentrated tug, her foot was free and I saw her exposed white ankle sock.
“Give it back,” she said as I tried to get her left shoe as well.
She didn’t fight as hard anymore and I pulled her left shoe off at the heel, without even undoing the velcro straps.
Summer tried to play it cool by wiggling her white socked feet, but I knew she was unhappy with her predicament.
“Give them back,” she pleaded again, “my feet will get cold.”
“That’s what the socks are for,” I said..
“My feet stink too,” Summer said as she tried to put them to my face.
“Yeah your socks look dirty,” I lied.
“What? No!” Summer pulled her left foot back to examine the bottom of her sock, they weren’t dirty, but they weren’t that clean either.
When the bus arrived, Summer and I kissed good night and she reluctantly got on the bus without her shoes. When she called me later that night, she told me that some guy had sat next to her and she had to hide her feet because she didn’t want anyone to see her without her shoes.
“Oh my god,” she said to me on the phone, “my socks are so dirty!”
I wish we had better technology back then as I would have loved to have a picture.
I had a lot of fun with Summer as taking her shoes became the go to form of punishment. And I’m also happy to say that she did eventually quit smoking, so I’d like to think I had a small positive impact.