November 16, 2012
Louse

Untitled

     I have this boot. It was given to me at a wedding. Well. Two boots. I have two boots. The pair were given to me at a wedding. It wasn’t my wedding. I’d already been through my own wedding and subsequent de-wedding. For a while, and this is a digression, I tried to convince people to call it just that, a de-wedding, as if it had been similar to a delousing. I’d been de-wed. Though, technically, the relationship—de-wed to delouse—didn’t match perfectly. I was de-wed, but if we were to try to formulate the same sentiment with the word, delouse, then it was my un-wife who was deloused. In this situation, if you can imagine it at all, I was the louse. But, see how the two don’t exactly match up? I was de-wed. She was deloused. If you can imagine it, anyway. Generally, I didn’t go into as much semantic detail when trying to convince people to agree to call it that rather than the thing they wanted to call it. There were times, too, when a person who thought they knew what I was trying to accomplish with this word, de-wed, would offer their own, de-marriage, and this would make me want to punch them in their faces, not least of all because the word made them sound like immigrants trying to say ‘the marriage’ and I found this belittling. Most often, though, I would calmly explain how the two were not only not the same thing, but were incompatible, and that their strange word, de-marriage, spoke nothing at all to the actual state of my relationship with my un-wife. 

    Anyway, this boot. It’s not a very interesting boot. It’s black. The soles are worn, on both of them. Both of them are equally uninteresting. Except, according to the man who gave them to me, they are interesting because they were once the boots of a famous actor. That’s what he told me, anyway, as well as the name of the actor, though I don’t remember that anymore. I’m not very good at knowing the names of famous actors or movies or singers or songs. And I think he gave them to me because he felt bad for me. I had been trying to explain to him the fact that what I’d been was un-wed. He looked at me during this explanation the way most people look at me, except that, at the end of it, he took off his boots and he handed them to me, and I thought he wanted me to hold onto them for him while he did something else, but he stood up, wearing only his socks on his feet, now, which were white, very white, and didn’t match the rest of his clothes, and he patted me on the shoulder and told me, You should have these. They once belonged to X and he gave them to a friend of mine who eventually gave them to me, and ever since, I’ve had nothing but the best of luck, and now maybe you need them, so you can have them, okay? I have other shoes in my hotel room and you should have these and maybe they’ll help you out. And then he left and then a crowd showed up at the bar and I lost sight of him, but when I knocked on his hotel room door the next morning, trying to give him the boots back, he said, Don’t be an asshole. I’m trying to do you a solid. Then he closed the door on me. 

    The thing was, and still is, one of the boots doesn’t fit. It’s too small. The other boot fits, if just, but the left boot is a size or maybe even two sizes too small, and while I still have them, I don’t ever wear them because I can’t get my foot all the way into the one. If I could fit my foot into that one, even if it hurt, but like really hurt, I would. I would do that, if I could, would suffer the blisters and the cramps, but I can’t even do that, so there’s not even the opportunity for them to hurt. I’d suffer through the hurt to get to the luck, is what I’m saying.  But instead I have this boot I can’t wear and this wife I can’t re-wed and an entire world that doesn’t feel to me like it should be my world, and I know this is silly, know that it’s a ridiculous notion, not just that these boots were once owned by anyone in particular, and not just the idea that they have bestowed anything like luck—good or bad—on anyone who ever owned them, but the idea that my life could change, that some random act could change my life is a silly notion, but it’s one I can’t let go of, even as I bind my foot tighter and tighter, trying to make it smaller and smaller, small enough, anyway, that I can squeeze it into place.



Story by Manuel Gonzales

Photo by  Emily Raw

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    I have this boot. It was given to me at a wedding. Well. Two boots. I have two boots. The pair were given to me at a...
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