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A Man And His Sneakers Are Soon Parted

new running shoes were delivered yesterday, a hipster pair of Under Armor Phantom SE.

Which I’m glad they aren’t really, because who wants to pay $125 for an empty box?

But the cool thing about these sneakers is that the box said the shoes would — as Dave Barry would say, “and I am not making this up” — talk to me on my phone, telling me where I’ve run, how far I’ve run, and how long it took me to get there.

No way, I thought. But I introduced my shoes to my phone like the box said to do, and the next thing I knew my shoe was talking to me, and will talk to me wherever I go. I’m Maxwell Smart, except the shoe does the talking.

I’m having second thoughts. It did seem cool at first, because I have a 2.5 mile-ish circuit in my neighborhood, and the shoes will tell me exactly how far that circuit is and how long it takes me to run it, and I can keep track of my average time and such as that.

If my average time doesn’t behave itself I can drive the circuit in my car a couple of times and get it where it needs to be. This sounds great but I wonder what I’ve gotten myself into. Could my shoes text my wife and say, “We took a detour, and we don’t know who we’re with but we’re at 267 Paradise Ave”? Or, “David said he was out for a run when you called yesterday? Not in us he wasn’t.”

I can already see I’m going to have to take these shoes either everywhere I go, or nowhere I go, and we haven’t even been on our first run yet. See, I’m already thinking it’s not my run but our run, because now, that’s exactly what this is.

Who else do the shoes talk to? “Dear Prospective Employer: We scanned all of Mr. Williams’s online activity, and read the job application he submitted on your site. We thought you should know he doesn’t work out as much as he claimed on the application, and he drinks socially, if six hours last week at The Thirsty Boomer is what you call “social.” Your application didn’t inquire about entertainment choices, so we have no comment on that. Sincerely, Phantom SE Sneakers.”

I dug the box out of the trash and read everything again carefully, and there is no way that I can un-introduce my shoes and my phone. They’ve bonded, and while they may not be BFFs, they do have a “Hey, how ya doin’?” relationship when they run across each other and then go for a beer.

After a couple of Schlitzes, they start comparing notes on me. They have an independent relationship now, and as any psychologist will tell you there is nothing I can do about it. At least that’s what my therapist tells me.

a man and his sneakers on ChezGigi.com

My next thought was to get rid of them; Satan is in my house and he needs to go. As everybody knows who has ever watched The Twilight Zone, this didn’t go well. I’d put them outside in the garbage can, and the next morning they were sitting neatly by the bed, ready to go for a run. I can’t give them to Goodwill because who knows who will buy them or where those people will go?

Of course I know. They’d rack up data on me that would make Manson look like a Boy Scout. Those shoes know they’ve got me by the short hairs and it’s all fun and games until someone throws them over some telephone wires.

I can’t trade the phone in because the shoes will just meet the next phone. Besides, I bet they’ve hooked up with my wife’s phone already.

So here’s where I’m at. All I wanted was a decent pair of running shoes, and I’m not so stupid — which is not to say not stupid at all — that I don’t understand that the running shoes were acquired because of a long list of discontents: my weight, my health, my fear of aging, my sitting in an AA room thinking, “No way am I going to end up looking like these folks.”

In the middle of that melee was a 40% off coupon for Under Armor products. I wonder who funded such a great coupon. Not just one company, I’ll wager. Who knows the extent of this conspiracy? Russell Sportswear, Tommy Copper, Ace Bandage, Schlitz — this goes deep and it goes wide.

I’ll admit that paranoia about talking sneakers might be a bit over the top — but then again, it might not be. I’m thinking I had better get a handle on my discontents, because somebody else already has, and who knows what they’ll do with this information?

This post was written by my friend, David Williams, sometime contributor to ChezGigi and a very funny man.

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