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A fourth pair of shoes

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A guest column by Ken Begley

I owned three pairs of shoes when this story began.

A pair of shoes showed up at my house a few years back. That's not all that unusual, except these showed up by themselves, with no one attached.

I was coming up the drive to the garage one day when I saw a plastic Walmart bag with something in it lying against the house. There's always something laying around our house, mostly kids, so my curiosity wasn't peaked until a couple of days later. The bag was still there.

I got out of the car and reached over to grab the bag. It was quite heavy. I looked inside, and there was a pair of lightly used, men's steel-toed work shoes. Well, that was a puzzle. Where did they come from?

I brought them into the house and asked my wife, Cindy.

"Don't know," she replied. "I saw the bag, but wasn't curious enough to see what was in it."

"Somebody must have made a mistake," I thought.

I wasn't sure what to do, so I laid the bag of shoes back out by where I found them, thinking someone would be back looking for them.

A couple more days passed while the shoes waited outside. No one came or called for these orphan shoes, so I brought them inside and found them to be my size after trying them on. They were quite comfortable.

I now owned four pairs of shoes.

Let me say that men, unlike most women, don't tend to have love affairs with shoes. My wife works at Springfield State Bank on Bardstown Road as a teller, but finds it necessary to keep 30 pairs of shoes for this task. Shoot, you can't even see her shoes because she works the drive-thru window.

It appeared to me to be some weird obsession requiring treatment. Later, while comparing notes with some other husbands, I found this to be a common illness among women.

Guys are different. I've never known a man to have more than a few pairs of shoes, of which most are worn out and should be given a decent burial.

We tend to buy a pair of shoes, wear them until they disintegrate into pieces, wear them two months past that and then buy a new pair.

Women just like to buy new shoes. This bothered me greatly when Cindy would bring another shoebox into the house. The conversation would go like this:

"What do you need more shoes for?"

"I needed a black pair to match my dress."

"You got a new dress?"

"Yeah."

"You already have five pairs of black shoes."

"They're not the right color of black."

I always thought women dressed to catch the eyes of men. This can't be true. When have you last heard men standing around commenting on some unsuspecting female by saying to his friends, "Wow, look at the feet on that gal?"

Anyway, the work shoes were wonderful and became my good friends.

We worked in the garden together, mowed grass, dug the footer for a concrete patio and generally just enjoyed each other's company. We got along famously.

Then the ugly truth came out.

I was wearing the shoes to a family reunion at my mom's house. One of my sisters looked down at my feet and said, "Where did you get those shoes?"

Upon which I replied, "They just showed up at my house one day."

"Oh yeah," she said, "The dead man's shoes Mary left you."

Apparently some young, healthy guy in Louisville had mysteriously dropped dead. His young widow was a friend of Mary's and was giving away his stuff, but a lot of people felt a little funny wearing them because of the odd circumstances of his death. So Mary hustled the shoes out of town to give to me. She left them outside my garage door so no explanation would need to be rendered.

I now own three pairs of shoes.

• Ken Begley is a columnist for The Springfield Sun in Washington County.